Dance blows audiences away with tribute performances

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The Sam Houston State University Dance Department blew audiences away in their sold out dance Spectrum “Departures” on Friday night, honoring the memory of the late Jonathan Charles Smith and the 20 years of service by Cindy Gratz, Ph.D.

The dances featured a colorful combination of modern, tap, contemporary, interpretive and others styles of dance.An anxious crowd was left at the edge of their seats as they gave much praise to all the dancers and their hard work throughout the night, filling the dance theater with positive clamor, laughter and cheers.

While some dances were performed by soloists, the main attraction was the group dancing, which showcased a combination of steps in structured synchronization. The harmony presented in the gracefulness of the dances drew audiences eager for more.

Mother of prospective student, Amelia Anderson from Dallas, wanted to see the potential of the SHSU dance department and by the end of the show, described it in one word: “Fabulous.”

The piece “Shift” made audience members gasp with a breathtaking performance. Dancers took the dance to the next level with their sudden movements, unique backgrounds and use of props. This number was out of the ordinary with the bright lights and contemporary sounds fading away as the dancers went into character and performed engulfed in their motions and surroundings.

Although “Shift” was impressive, it was “Red Socks” which was the most celebrated. This dance by the late Jonathan Charles was selected for the American College Dance Festival South Central Region Gala in 1999. “Red Socks” was one of the most powerful numbers of the night.

Participants tapped in this energetic piece with loud shouts and outfits giving life to the 1930s. Dancers ended the show with an energetic tap number that brought audiences to a standing ovation.

Freshman and nursing major Alicia Rice said “Red Socks”, a tribute tap number to Charles, as the most enjoyable performance of the night.”I loved it! It was great, it had different variety [of moves],” she said.

Graduate student in Fine Arts and Dance Travis Prokop was one of the many performers in “Departures”, having participated in two of the group performances of the night he emphasized the importance of practice and commitment for a successful piece.

“You rehearse every single day, it’s a big commitment. We clean it, we dance it, we get out and stamina is up, it’s a process, it’s a job, but I think it’s the greatest job in the world,” Prokop said.