Brown Bag dancers reflect on experience
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 22:02
A crowd of eager spectators surrounded the stage inside the Bob Hope Theater lobby, trying to catch a glimpse of the Spring Brown Bag Dance Series.
On stage, the dancers are at the heart of the action as they perform their student-choreographed pieces.
For the dancers performing in Brown Bag for the first time this semester, the excitement is especially palpable.
“The audience is so excited to see you,” first year Meredith Williams said.
“It’s so close to the stage. You don’t ever get to sit that close to your stage. ... I like that kind of non-traditional setting.”
The Brown Bag Dance Series is choreographed and performed every semester by students of the SMU Meadows Division of Dance.
For the students, Brown Bag represents an opportunity to begin exploring the professional world of dance.
“You have to learn to be a professional when nobody’s telling you to to be professional,” Williams said.
Specifically, Williams said that the relatively short amount of time that the students have to produce Brown Bag is an accurate reflection of the type of pressure that professional dancers are faced with.
To earn a position performing in Brown Bag, dancers must attend a 5-hour audition and dance each piece for the student choreographers.
The choreographers then choose the dancers they want to perform their pieces. Rehearsals start the next day; the students rehearse twice a week for a total of three weeks, in addition to their regular dance class schedule.
Williams, a dancer since the age of 4, hopes to become a professional dancer after graduation.
Following her career as a performer, she also aspires to run a dance school or company. She is majoring in dance with a minor in arts management.
“It’s kind of scary to go into because it’s so unsure,” Williams said about the dance industry.
“That’s why I really want to go to school for some kind of business administration. But I never want to be totally separated from the dance world.”
Hope Endrenyi, another freshman dancing in her first Brown Bag performance, explained the unique challenge that young dancers are faced with.
“It’s hard, because for dancers typically you go straight from high school into a company or you try to start working professionally, at least specifically for ballet,” Endrenyi said.
But Endrenyi said that as much as she loves dance, she also wants everything that a college education and experience has to offer.
“College allows you to develop yourself as a human being in society as well as a performer in the arts,” she said.
Endrenyi, who plans to pursue a career in ballet and musical theater, feels that Brown Bag offers students a chance to experiment and learn to exercise responsibility as artists.
“Brown Bag helps us create our own voice, so when we graduate we know who we are and what we have to offer so we can channel that knowledge to create a steady career for ourselves,” she said.
While many dancers must choose between dance or an education, being a Meadows student gives aspiring performers like Williams and Endrenyi the opportunity to pursue both dreams.
“I’ve always loved to dance, but I’ve always wanted to do other things, like medicine in college,” Reid Frye, a first year who is double-majoring in dance and pre-med, said. “I was lucky to receive this opportunity to pursue what I love so I decided to do both.”
Frye said a job with a dance company after college is one he couldn’t turn down, but he also has hopes of continuing his education and attending medical school.
To balance the competing demands of school and dance, Endrenyi said that time management is key.
“We have our academics, we have our technique classes, and then we have rehearsals, so it’s a lot to juggle,” Endrenyi said.
But despite all the challenges, these rising dancers remain true to themselves.
“Above all else, what I respect about dance that people don’t realize is that dancers are highly disciplined, and I think it teaches you very valuable life lessons,” Frye said.
That discipline is apparent in every movement the dancers make as they perform their original creations.