This past weekend, on Mar. 3rd and 4th, Dance 49 took place in the Dewitt Main Theatre and it will continue through this coming weekend Mar. 9th-11th. Dance 49 is a showcase where dance students are cast with a choreographer who then creates a piece to perform at the showcase. This year there were seven numbers that featured a broad selection of dance styles such as hip-hop, contemporary, and pointe ballet.
One of the dancers in Dance 49 this year is Chloe Yonkus (‘24). Yonkus is a business major, with double minors in communications and dance. She commented on her experience and why she chose to minor in dance, saying, “I’ve been dancing since I was three or four years old. I’ve been dancing my whole life, basically. I did it all throughout high school and wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it in college just because it’s a bigger responsibility and that also means that you would do it after school too. So that’s why I’m minoring in it and I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with that little degree but for now it’s fun to do and stay dancing.”
Yonkus is a business major and plans on using this to potentially start her own dance studio after college. She currently works at a clothing store in downtown Holland, which has given her more experience on the business side of things. Yonkus is also involved in other areas around campus including Student Congress, Nykerk (where she is involved with even year play), being a social media coordinator, and serving on a Dance Marathon committee through photography and other work.
For dance, Yonkus has been involved in the department since her freshman year, and last year, she was involved in Dance 48. Yonkus remarked on the process of how choreographers pick their dancers, saying, “You audition and the choreographers fight over who they want in each of their pieces. It’s kind of funny.” Last year, Yonkus was in the tap piece choreographed by Heather Cornell. Yonkus said, “[Cornell] is a really really brilliant tap artist and musician. She’s really very talented. So I was in her piece last year until I got injured… I hurt my knee in a skiing accident so I didn’t get to be in the show, so that’s why I wanted to do it this year.”
Just as Yonkus had hoped, she was cast in Cornell’s tap piece once again. However, this year’s piece was choreographed by guest artist, Mark Yonally, and Cornell was the rehearsal director. Yonally is an established tap choreographer and the founder and artistic director of Chicago Tap Theatre.
The seven Hope dancers in the tap number had the opportunity to perform their piece at Chicago Tap Theatre’s 20th-anniversary tap performance. Yonkus was excited about their invitation to perform the number. She said, “It was super cool, so now I’m excited to do it onstage here. It was really cool too with a tap company and to be in their show and see what they do. It’s a nonprofit [company] so they do get paid, but a lot of [the tap dancers] have other jobs. It’s pretty cool because if I do something like that after college, that’s probably what I’d do — [dance] in conjunction with my real job.”
On getting to work with a new, guest choreographer, Yonkus said the tap dancers have done a lot with Cornell, “So it was nice to get a new style and technique of choreography. Even though it’s still tap dance, every choreographer is unique in the way they teach it and Yonally’s brilliant and Heather’s brilliant. It was stressful for sure, because we had to learn it in one weekend. But it was cool to meet him and he took us to lunch one day and it was cool to bond with him and learn about his experiences and it’s been a good networking thing too.”
Yonkus shares that the tap piece is special not just because of the guest choreographer this year. “Our piece is the only one that has live music on stage. That’s really important to a lot of tap dancers, dancing with live musicians. We have a drummer, a bass player, and a singer and all three we are close with because we practice a lot. It’s something special to dance with live music and it’s something special to watch too.”
For audiences coming to Dance 49’s last performances this weekend, Yonkus says, “The Dance Department at Hope is one of the best in Michigan and a lot of people don’t know that I think. It’s really spectacular to see these artists put their all into one number for a whole year. A lot of people don’t know a lot about tap dance, but even seeing the other groups that do contemporary and ballet and hip hop, it’s entertaining. So, if you like art at all, here’s your chance to see art in motion.”
Here is some more information about the production:
Choreographer: Mark Yonally
Rehearsal Director: Heather Cornell
Cast: Paige Augustyn, Isabella Ensworth, Alexis Erickson, Josie Farrell, Sarra Lacour, Jackie Rodriguez, Chloe Yonkus, Taylor Lee
Choreographer: Kara Madden Brems
Cast: Allison Fulton, Kate Greif, Anna Harrell, Emma Lord, Morgan Mohler, Madeleine Popp, Sloane Provost
Choreographer: Lindsey Hanson
Cast: Elizabeth Park, Leah Fritts, Maia Travis, Mattie Klomparens, Maureen Cole, Miriam Czaja
“It’s Not a Move, It’s a Culture”
Choreographer: Deavondre Jones
Cast: Zoey Cappatocio, Stacy Devine, Skylar DeWitt, Monica Neba, Cali Smith
Choreographer: Julie Powell in collaboration with dancers
Cast: Seanna DeWitt, Evann Fischer, Natalie Glover, Deborah Hegg, Mackenzie Kellogg, Harlee Scholten
“Conform Me Not”
Choreographer: Jasmine Meija
Cast: Kaleigh Estby, Marguerite Hartman, Allison Mclntosh, Jillian Reitzel, Shannon Rodriguez, Miranda Stepchuk
“Better Days and Calmer Nights”
Choreographer: Matt Farmer
Cast: Emmeline Barry, Jordan Dillabough, Anna Hammond, Claire Knodel, Madison Korff, Bethany Lawrence, Hannah McGrew, Madeline Williams
Director of Design and Production: Erik Alberg
Lighting Design: Eric Van Tassell
Sound Design: Ken Chamberlain
Costumes and Shop Management: Anna Hill
Stage Manager: Cindy Alberg
There is still one more weekend to see Dance 49. Come and support Hope’s Dance Department!
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