Drexel Dance Ensemble
The Drexel Dance Ensemble is a professional caliber dance company presenting two fully-produced concerts in the Mandell Theater each year, performing for more than 1000 people each season. Students participating in the 50-member ensemble are given the opportunity to explore their artistry through working with professional choreographers, both faculty and guests artists, as well as a selection of student choreographers. The diversity of choreographic talent promises a show with dimension and unique perspectives on contemporary and classical dance forms. Entrance into this company is open to any dancers beyond their freshman year by audition twice yearly.
One of the more notable components of the Drexel Dance Ensemble is the student choreography. Each year 14 students are selected to create original works on their peers, and experience the process of working with a staff of theater professionals, including a lighting designer, and four costume designers creating original costumes for each piece. At the end of the year, four exceptional student choreographers are invited to reconstruct their works on the FreshDance Ensemble the following year, allowing their dances to have an extended life in our repertory.
Participation in the dance ensembles allows for the students of Drexel to connect to the artistic community, indulge in the creative process, and perhaps, expand their cultural scope. Recently, Drexel dancers represented the university, and our country, at the 45th Annual Singapore Youth Festival at the National University of Singapore. Invited by Singapore’s Ministry of Education, the 12 dancers selected from both ensemble companies performed Sea of Glass, choreographed by dance faculty member Olive Prince, on July 20, 2011. Click here to watch a video of this international experience.
Youth Performance Exchange Touring Ensemble
For students inspired to work with young audiences, the Youth Performance Exchange Touring Ensemble provides an exciting and satisfying opportunity to utilize dance as a conduit to teaching and connecting with children.
The ensemble, comprised of 8-10 students, presents a 45-minute lecture/demonstration on the topic of “The Art of Modern Dance and the Role of the Choreographer,” which includes both performed choreography and audience participation. The ensemble members perform for the students and lead a series of improvisational structures, facilitating a communal experience for the young movers, and then the assembly concludes with a question and answer session. The Touring Ensemble models its curriculum after the South Street Dance Company’s Young Audiences Ensemble created by Ellen Forman.
Learning and developing the performance material occurs during the Fall term, and touring to the schools happens in the Winter and Spring terms on Friday mornings, making the Touring Ensemble a year-long commitment. It is a rewarding experience with 20-40 performances, and an opportunity to give many elementary and middle school students valuable exposure to modern dance and a meaningful exploration of movement, as well as allowing each ensemble member to discover and cultivate their own talents as a performers and educators.