The Theatre Arts Department introduced a dance team to their repertoire of artistic talents at the end of last semester.
The team, comprised of seven undergraduate students, released their debut dance video, “Salute,” in early December. The video features choreography by team leader, alumna Bretlyn Schmitt-Lazaris, and numbers performed by dancers seniors Gabrielle Incremona, Alison Bassett, Megan Fox, and Heather Christensen as well as sophomore Noelle Roth, and freshman Karli Strate.
The team believes their purpose is to bring additional artistic diversity to the Theatre Arts Department. Different from other teams affiliated with the university such as Stunt, Sideline, and the ROAR, the dance team aims to display theatrical excellence and structurally choreographed pieces.
Schmitt-Lazaris had a vision for the team that included the creation of video content to showcase the department’s ability. Immense growth within the department has given the dancers the opportunity for the team on and off screen.
Originally, the university did not have a strong dance curriculum set in place; however, eight years ago Schmitt-Lazaris became the resident choreographer. Later, she became the dance instructor of the program. She has since spent four years training and assisting dancers.
Once dance had become a prominent talent and interest, Schmitt-Lazaris felt that the level of talent had been elevated and was ready for showcasing.
Schmitt-Lazaris has given senior Gabrielle Incremona a platform for her future in dance, the theatre arts major explained.
“The content that we have filmed is great for seniors, like me, to use for our reels as we enter the competitive world of musical theater and dance,” Incremona said.
Schmitt-Lazaris explained that the aim of creating the unit was for it to be overseen by the the Theatre Arts Department so it could be differentiated from other teams on campus that are under the management of the Athletics Department.
The team focuses on performance, with they rehearse themed dances and film mini videos to showcase the different styles, according to Incremona.
“We focus more on the performance and storytelling side of dance utilizing the technical dance, as well as acting, training taught to us through the department in dance styles such as jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop,” Incremona said.
In addition to the team’s video releases on social media, live performance opportunities are also being considered to give dancers a chance to display personal growth and dedication to their craft, according to Schmitt-Lazaris.
With the help of the department’s newest concentration, Stage & Screen Acting/Directing, the video content produced by the team has increased, which has become a way of reaching out to patrons and prospective students in the community.
“Creating video content for the dance team was the final piece of the singing, dancing, acting trifecta. The ladies on the dance team, as well as many more of our students, have had the opportunity to expand their dance training through courses offered in theater,” Schmitt-Lazaris said.
The team primarily holds rehearsals at Mon Reve, Schmitt-Lazaris’ home dance studio. The studio donates studio time for the dancers.
“Dance can be such an amazing expression of the Lord’s love and I couldn’t be happier watching my students grow into such beautiful dancers with the talents he has given to each of them. We hope to continue to be a creative outlet for those passionate about this beautiful art form,” Schmitt-Lazaris said.
Currently, the team’s Instagram (@VU_DanceTeam) is where updates and media regarding the newest staple of the Theatre Arts Department.