Young Dance is a relaxed environment for creativity

Etta Harkness Bartholdi, Staff Writer

“[I love] the feeling of freedom in my body when I dance,” said junior Avery Shoemaker. “It’s the perfect combination of art and athleticism.”

Shoemaker may have danced for many years of her life, but she started organized dancing at age thirteen with ballet and then transferred to modern. She joined Young Dance a year later.

“For me,” junior Shana Crawford commented, “dance is an artsy outlet. I have stayed with it because it helps me get to work things out in a creative way, and the people are wonderful.”

Crawford isn’t the only one with this reason to stay. “It’s a relaxed and laid back environment,” said Shoemaker. “It’s not competitive and there is never pressure to put yourself over anyone else. That’s why I stay with Young Dance.”

This is a common feeling among the participants at Young Dance. It is a space for creativity, and an open forum for thoughts and ideas, even student choreography. “I co-choreographed a piece last year,” Shoemaker explained. “It had a loose theme of psychology, especially around ideas of anxiety and isolation.”

Crawford is currently choreographing  two pieces with the company. “The first piece is based on inertia and resistance to change. The feeling I want people to get is if you are standing in the arctic desert and there’s a wind storm going on around you.”

The second piece she is working on is cooperative, with dancers who wanted to choreograph together. “It is based off the song ‘Man on Fire’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and we want it to be focused on cooperation,” she said.

These kinds of projects are a big piece of why people stay with Young Dance. The dancers have performed at Clara Barton Elementary school, Barbara Barker Center for dance, Patrick’s Cabaret, the Walker Arts Center, and many other uniquely artful places.

Participants in Young Dance are exposed to all different kinds of dances from all around the world. Crawford, and sophomore Liam McLaughlin enjoy the whole company projects. One in particular they mentioned was titled FECH BU XALE, which was created by a company called Voice of Culture. The dance was from West Africa.

“I would say that it was my favorite because I had never done any African dance before it, and this piece was an eye-opening experience,” commented McLaughlin. “I never knew how fun, energizing, social dance from other parts of the world could be.” Crawford named it her favorite because, “It was the most fun, we had the whole company dancing in ridiculously bright colored prints and learning a new type of dance.”

Young Dance’s company sticks around. Most of the participants have been there for three or more years. “I always say that each year is my last year. But when you’re invested in something for six years, it’s hard to just leave,” said McLaughlin. “I always tell my mother ‘one more year! Just one more!’” He emphasised that the reason he can’t leave is “the environment, the people, the positivity surrounding it is so great.”

The company offers beginning level classes and scholarships. Many dancers have been with the company for a while but anyone can join at any age. “I think its a super accepting community,” stated junior Noelle Reed. “Anyone who wants to do dance or try dancing out should do Young Dance.”