Performances from Georgetown’s two academic dance ensembles, Georgetown University Dance Company (GUDC) and Black Movements Dance Theatre (BMDT), have brought the Devine Theatre to life.
GUDC’s “Works in Progress Showing” serves as a glimpse into GUDC’s production process in an informal setting. Performed in a blackbox theater without professional lighting or costumes, the show intimately exposed the audience to Georgetown’s dance scene.
GUDC’s Faculty Artistic Director Raina Lucas expressed her joy at participating in “Works in Progress Showing” and working alongside the passionate students who brought the show to life.
“Usually the audience is filled with people near and dear to the students, making it a truly special experience. It’s so wonderful to witness and feel the love and support in the space,” Lucas said. “The audience gets to experience and hear about the process of making and performing a dance, as well as hear from the choreographers about their goals, hopes and thoughts surrounding their work.”
GUDC will perform excerpts from eight student-choreographed pieces, two guest artist pieces and one faculty piece at their show. These works range from delicate ballet to upbeat jazz to intricate contemporary, according to GUDC Student Artistic Director Skylar Harbour (COL ’23).
“I would describe the company as a big melting pot. Our community is filled with diverse dancers that are from all different backgrounds: so many dancers grew up with unique dance training from strict ballet, to competition jazz, contemporary collectives and musical theater programs,” Harbour said. “It is quite beautiful that we get the opportunity to mix within the art and learn from our peers that have been educated in a different style.”
The show closes with a piece by Lucas, titled “The Truth Spun Backwards.”
“The piece abstractly explores the complex shaping of truth and how we sift through and cope with various sources of information to arrive at an understanding of truth,” Lucas said. “I was inspired to create this piece because the question of ‘what is true?’ is something that I see society grappling with each day, especially in this age of social media and the rapid spread and sharing of information/disinformation/misinformation.”
The other notable show of the late 2022 Georgetown dance scene was created by BMDT.
BMDT’s fall performance is titled “Soul Memories.” BMDT’s Student co-Director Makayla Jeffries (COL ’23) discussed the experiences that inspired her to create the show.
“The show was inspired by my time studying abroad this past summer in South Africa. While in South Africa, we talked a lot about how there are more than just physical things that can be passed down between people,” Jeffries said. “It’s very much an acknowledgment of the spirit, of the soul, of the things we intrinsically know, of the things we have intuitions about and using that to help us remember.”
Faculty Artistic Director Alfreda Davis added to Jeffries’ comments.
“We really shaped the show around Makayla’s experience and expanded it to humanity. So soul memories, talking about those things that shape you, those things that impacted you from your youth to how you journey through life,” Davis said. “It may be something that impacts you in terms of your family, your career, your relationships and how you carry those memories.”
BMDT’s mission conveys the Black experience through movement, according to BMDT’s Student co-Director Eddie Ramirez Pineda (MSB ’23).
“We like to emphasize the dance theater part of our company. So our show’s not just dancing,” Ramirez Pineda said. “You’re going to see moments of stillness. You’re gonna see some moments of storytelling that are really critical to our identity as a company. At the end of the day, we’re storytellers.”
As self-producing companies, BMDT and GUDC’s students play a role in all aspects of the show. Davis reflected on the work involved in creating every aspect of the production.
“What you see on stage is the end product of what we do throughout the semester. We have to manage our budget, design our costumes, work with guest artists,” Davis said. “There’s a lot involved and the students really take charge of a lot of that work.”
GUDC’s involvements in Georgetown’s dance community have enriched members of both companies off the stage, according to GUDC’s co-Production Director Caroline Ericsson (COL ’24).
“GUDC is an exceptionally warm, tightknit community. We spend long hours in the studio, but I think that’s one reason why the company lends itself to such long-lasting friendships,” Ericsson said. “I’ve met such wonderful people through the company, and it has made me feel so much more at home at Georgetown.”
Ramirez Pineda added to Ericsson’s comments, discussing the close-knit relationships formed among members of the company.
“One of my favorite things is after rehearsal we go on Snaxa runs, and it’s just a time for us to vent, or hang out in a space that isn’t necessarily structured. We really do feel like a family, so when we’re dancing, the stories feel a lot more real,” Ramirez Pineda said.
GUDC’s “Works in Progress Showing” performances are Wednesday, Nov. 30, and Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m., and BMDT’s “Soul Memories” is Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. While these performances are currently sold out, standby tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.