Feb. 12 saw students and others in Branscomb Auditorium as Florida Dance Theatre put on a series of performances showcasing the possibilities of the new musical theatre major starting in August.
Dr. Kyle Fedler, Florida Southern College’s provost, introduced the local dance company, which talked about what the new major would mean for students.
Carol Erkes, executive artistic director and founder of the Florida Dance Theatre, and Freddie De Jesus, the associate director and resident choreographer for the company, once worked as adjuncts to FSC’s physical education department in the hopes of starting a dance program.
“After a year and a half we realized that it wasn’t going to turn into a dance department, so we kind of put it on the back burner,” Erkes said. “And we’re trying to get that interest going now, being involved in the musical theatre department starting in August, and eventually a dance department.”
The program still has several stages to go through.
“We’re still kind of working it out,” Fedler said. “The progression, as it looks like now, we’re hoping to offer some courses next semester, either for credit or for recreation, but hopefully for credit. My guess is that, by second semester, almost assuredly, we’ll have some classes for credit.”
The program was originally suggested by students.
“We had some honor students…two years ago the president had students over and this conversation came up about dance, and the president said, ‘How many of you are interested in dance?’” Fedler said. “And we had all these hands get raised. So she and I began a conversation two years ago, and it is now coming to fruition.”
The dancers performed to a group of FSC students who were interested in the new program.
At the beginning of the night several students showed, by raising their hands, if they would have majored or minored in dance if the program had been available sooner.
“I came here to learn more about the dance major and minor and to see what it was all about, and the company,” Jenna Strobel, a freshman chemistry major, said.
Florida Southern Dance Theater performed a number of dances, showing different styles of dance including contemporary, ballet, tango and flamenco. Some of the numbers mixed one or more of the different styles.
Later, the dancers introduced themselves and there was a short dance class. Audience members were invited to come onto the stage and participate.
“The lesson was fun. It was interesting. They made it so everyone could do it, and gave us a little warm-up and feel for how the dance program will be for next year,” Strobel said.
However, students were not the only ones who went onto the stage for the lesson. Fedler got up and joined the students as De Jesus took them through some movements.
“The dance lesson was great,” Fedler said. “I actually did a year of ballet, 35 years ago, so it was a lot of fun.”
Although the musical theatre major will not be offered until next semester, and it may be longer for a dance major, students at the meeting seemed to be interested.
“I am interested in taking a few classes, whether it be minoring in it or just a few classes to keep up on dance,” Strobel said.
(Editor’s Note: In the print edition, Jenna Strobel’s name was printed as Jenna Strovel instead of Strobel.)