‘Fire & Ice’: Burning down the house

Dance is one of my favorite artistic expressions. To be a true artist though, one needs to be more than just a good dancer. When on stage, you need to be focused, smile and incorporate your character. 

For the fall dance concert, the Richland dance program presented “Fire & Ice,” with an environmental theme. In between performances, recycled shopping bags were distributed to the audience that could be used instead of plastic bags at the supermarket.

In September, I watched auditions for “Fire & Ice.” Some 40 students tried out, performing to different rhythms and showing off their talents in hopes of being selected for a spot in the upcoming concert.  In just two months, director Gina Sawyer and the dance faculty put together a beautiful, fascinating concert.

“Fire & Ice” was proof that you don’t need a big budget to produce an amazing concert. One of my favorite pieces was “Energy to Light,” involving six dancers who performed in low stage light wearing headlamps to produce shadows on a big screen behind them. The focus wasn’t on the dancers but on the movement reflected on the screen. For me, it exemplified the beauty of dance.

Another thing that caught my attention was the many genres of dance presented in the concert, that included modern, jazz, tap and hip-hop. The program was free for students and let them learn different types of music and dance styles.  

I recognized some of the students from the auditions and was able to see how they have grown as artists. Bridget Jones, 18, was in my math class. I asked her about the rehearsals. She said there were three per week, more than five hours, not counting her own practice.

I asked if she gets nervous before a concert. “I’ve been dancing for 13 years and I still get nervous but the other dancers helped me calm down right before the performance,” she said.

Dancing requires much more than raw talent. It takes time, focus, dedication and lots of practice. I enjoyed the fall concert and am looking forward to the spring performance.