Dance in Concert Celebrates 50 Years

Over the past 50 years, Dance in Concert has become a pillar of the dance program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. For current students, this event serves as an opportunity to showcase their talents as dancers, along with the new skills and techniques they have learned through the dance program. For faculty, they take pride in highlighting how their students have improved each year. And for alumni, Dance in Concert is fondly remembered as one of their favorite events from their time at SIUE.

Regardless of the reason, this year’s 50th anniversary of Dance in Concert is cause for celebration. This event has touched the lives of countless SIUE dance students over the past five decades. To honor Dance in Concert’s legacy at SIUE, the Department of Theater and Dance hosted a 50th anniversary celebration with five performances on Nov. 13-17.

“The 50th Anniversary is a way for me as director to honor our rich history and those who have supported the growth of our program over the years,” said Kristin Best Kinscherff (‘03), associate professor of dance and Dance in Concert artistic director. “I am also a graduate of the program and Dance in Concert was significant to my development as a college student. I gained important organizational, communication and time management skills. Dance requires dedication and perseverance, both acquired through rehearsals and performances.”

The past, present and future of the SIUE dance program were represented in each of this year’s Dance in Concert performances by the alumni, current SIUE students and children from local dance schools who brought to life the choreography of SIUE faculty and alumni.

“I am so delighted to have been asked to do this event,” said Tessa Priem (’05), who performed choreography from her solo show, “Inner Reformation: an Autobiography Danced,” at the event. “It’s such an honor to think that out of all the students who have been through the program these 50 years, I get to be one who dances again on this stage for this special occasion.”

To pay special tribute to the dance program’s alumni from the past 50 years, the Saturday evening performance featured an Anniversary Gala celebration. Prior to the show, dance program alumni were invited to attend a reception in the lobby of Dunham Hall, where they could meet current students and reconnect with faculty and other alumni. Attendees then were treated to a show featuring special pieces choreographed and performed solely by alumni. The show paid homage to the alumni who have not only made their mark on the SIUE dance program, but also have shared their talents with the broader community at the regional, national and international level.

“It has been close to 20 years since I’ve been a part of Dance in Concert,” said Rachel Brady (’93), who performed two pieces at the event, including a duet with her sister, Erin Mallory (’98). “I’m grateful to share this experience with my friends, colleagues, teachers, students, family and the new generation of SIUE dancers. I was given many opportunities while I was at SIUE and will always be willing to contribute any way I’m able.”

Darla Andree (’84), who choreographed a piece she performed with several alumni at the event, also was excited to return to the event after many years. “The rehearsals have been wonderful, with such camaraderie,” she explained. “Even though many of us weren’t in school together, we’ve made connections over the years. It feels like one big family.”

For one reason or another, Dance in Concert has made a lasting impact on countless dancers over the past 50 years. And with the thriving dance program at SIUE, this event is sure to create another 50 years’ worth of fond memories for students, faculty and alumni alike.

“Dance in Concert was my last college performance so it is really special to get to come back,” said Hayley Barker (’17), who performed a self-choreographed solo. “I anticipate my favorite part will be all the memories that come rushing back. The high of walking up the stairs to the dressing room after a performance is a great memory; I’m elated to do it again.”

Photo: SIUE senior Colin Vincent and sophomore Danielle Faller perform a piece choreographed by Kristin Best Kinscherff during this year’s Dance in Concert.

 

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