As Spring into Dance approaches, dance students are working hard in preparation for the show. In a performance choreographed by Anderson University’s dance faculty, dancers have to learn a delicate balance of long hours of rehearsals, training and practicing with the hectic class schedule and homework. Despite the heavy workload that the program requires, there is joy, passion and love of dance to be found within every dancer.
Sophomore Heidi Vickers has found the program to be a “family-oriented environment.” Knowing that many universities have competition-based programs, Vickers noted that while AU did have competition, it was on a healthy level so “when it comes down to it, we’re all like family, and we always encourage each other.” Vickers talked about how the professors strived to make the dance environment like a home, always supporting and lifting each other up, especially during hard times.
Julia Van Der Eems, in her junior year, reflected on what made the dance program special to her. For her, the heart of the program is “taking the professional dance world and meeting it up with a Christ-centered education.” This was not something that she came to in her freshman year. “It’s taken me more time to realize that the reason why we’re unique is because of the focus.” In her hopes for the future of the dance program, Van Der Eems said that “I hope they keep the idea that it’s okay to be smaller. It’s great that we can have more personalized relationships with professors.”
Leah Pitman, a senior Dance Science major, said that “the encouragement is something that sets Anderson’s dance department apart from other schools.”
Pitman continued, saying AU is an “encouraging atmosphere versus a competitive place.” A learning environment allowed Pitman to feel “comfortable, safe, and vulnerable in learning together and growing together.” For her, the dancers are a loving community, genuinely caring for each other. Reflecting on her time at Anderson, Pitman recalled how her community has impacted her by “being in a community of encouragement and continual challenge that has led me to growth.”
Pitman, Van Der Eems, and Vickers all advised the younger classes to take advantage of the many options that Anderson has available. “Soak up the opportunities that you can without overwhelming yourself,” Pitman urged. Vickers encouraged students to “keep the lines of communication open with the professors.” Each dancer said that while there’s a fine line between overcommitment and embracing new opportunities, it’s necessary to step out of your comfort zone in order to truly grow.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see these passionate and hardworking dance students live in Spring into Dance with performances on March 31 at 7:00pm and April 1 at 2pm.