Spring Dance Concert Incorporates West African Culture


Students will be able to enjoy a performance put on by the University of Tampa’s dance department starting Thursday Feb. 18. The annual Spring Dance Concert is making its way back to Falk Theater with a new set of dancers and choreographers. The dancers have been preparing for their demanding performance on stage. The auditions were held for dance majors and non-dance majors and the spotlight will soon be on them.

The production will perform nine dance routines including a West African dance that combines Sinte, Rites of Passage dance,  and Soli, celebration dance, seen in Guinea, choreographed by Dr. Kyaien Connor from the University of South Florida. Connor has been a professional West African dancer since the age of 14 and this is her second year working with the Spring Dance Concert.

“Our piece will focus on two dances, Sinte and Soli,” said Connor. “The piece closes the show and it will be exciting and heart pumping.”

The piece will also feature live music including lead drummer, Papa Cheikh N’Dong, who performed with the National Ballet du Senegal for a year. His connections led him to the United States.

The dance program director, Professor Susan Taylor Lennon, will be directing the Spring Dance Concert.

“I think the audience will be entertained and also given dances that provoke thought and reflection,” said Lennon.

The production has required its dancers to be hardworking and devoted to their performance and to conveying the message of each of the different dances being performed. For senior Applied Dance major, Laura Remillard, dedication and passion has made preparing for her performances worthwhile.

She will be performing in three pieces by Sea Lee, Marlana LaCivita, and Connor. The performances include Connor’s West African dance, modern dance, and tap dance.

Lee’s dance, entitled In Rememberance of the Cosmos, is an emotional piece made in the memory of her grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

“We as her dancers are portraying different memories and moments in an individual’s life,” Remillard said.

LaCivita’s tap dance grabbing the audience’s minds in a “rhythmic and funky piece,” said Remillard.

Remillard has been dancing for 19 years when she was two years old and danced purely for fun.

“Over time I grew to love it and found it not only therapeutic but another form of self-expression,” said Remillard.

After graduating this year, Remillard’s goal is to attend graduate school for dance movement therapy. She believes the dance opportunities she receives at the University of Tampa help prepare anything dance related after graduation.

“You get performance experience, work on time management, collaborate with different students as well as faculty, and get to improve in different styles or techniques.” said Remillard.

According to Remillard, the dancers and choreographers have practiced hard and she is most looking forward to the audience’s energy on opening night. She emphasized how the cast of dancers will need to work together and bring their emotions, style and passion to the stage to make the production successful. As this is her last Spring Dance Concert, she is anticipating an emotional night for both opening and closing for her and as well as the other seniors.

“There’s a saying our director, [Lennon], says before each of our performances after dance circle and dance cheer, and she tells us ‘to do it with love.’ I think during Spring Dance Concert, if everyone does it with love, we will have a very successful show.” Remillard said.

The show will run through Saturday Feb. 20 in Falk Theatre with a special matinee show Feb. 20 at 2 p.m.

Katelyn Massarelli can be reached at katelyn.massarelli@spartans.ut.edu.

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