At promptly 7:30 p.m. Saturday night, the lights rose as “Underground” from the musical Memphis by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro played through the speakers in Collins Alumni Auditorium. This signified the beginning of the fourth annual Elevate dance concert put on by Lipscomb’s Department of Theatre and Foundation Dance Theatre (FDT).
Although each year the dance concert is entitled Elevate, there is a theme set that each of the dances focuses on. For 2018, Elevate took on the theme, “This is the Moment.”
The evening featured 12 dances ranging anywhere between tap to hip-hop and duets to group performances. Each dance had been uniquely designed with its own costumes, music, lighting and dancers. A total of 24 dancers could be seen throughout the night.
“The subtitle, ‘This is the Moment’ is actually the name of a song in the musical Jekyl and Hyde,” co-director Kari Smith said. “It is a pivotal point in that show, and we were looking for a theme that would highlight important moments in our lives.”
Smith held the title as one of the two directors of this year’s performance along with Leigh Anne Ervin. Both women are adjunct professors on campus and serve as the co-founders of Foundation Dance Company.
“Each choreographer brought a beautiful and totally unique piece to the show, and our designers worked together to bring the choreographer’s vision to life,” Smith said. “Because each choreographer was able to interpret the theme in their own way, the result is a truly diverse show that highlights their creative vision as well as the talents of the dancers.”
Each dancer had the opportunity to connect this theme to a personal situation in his or her life that would allow him or her to relate directly to each of the dances.
“To me, ‘This is the Moment’ means taking chances when you’re provided with them, and chasing your dreams, which is definitely what Lipscomb has allowed me to do with dancing,” senior english writing major Jenna Phipps said.
Phipps participated in three dances including “Underground” a musical theatre piece, a modern piece entitled “Illusion” and “Faith,” a mixture of jazz and rap.
“I was most excited about the theme because ‘This is the Moment’ indicates taking chances when God gives you the opportunity and seeking to grow as a dancer while I am in an environment where I am given chances to do that,” Phipps said.
Each dancer began prepping for this moment back in August whenever he or she auditioned to become a member of the 2017-2018 Foundation Dance Company. After auditions, the best dancers were selected from various backgrounds across campus including dance and theatre majors, as well as individuals who found themselves in another major but still held a passion for dance.
Amongst the group of individuals selected for the company was freshman biology major Haley Hensley.
According to Hensley, practices began immediately and were held at least once a week for a couple of hours. However, during the final weeks before the dance concert, dancers could be found rehearsing every night for approximately five hours.
For Elevate: This is the Moment, the FDT went through two major changes from last year’s dance concert: moving the location from Shamblin Theatre to Collins and taking the performance down to just one show instead of three.
“Last year, we had three smaller shows, which I enjoyed because I like to be able to perform multiple times,” Phipps said. “Having only one performance meant that we had a much larger crowd, and the audiences’ enthusiasm helped us to enjoy performing for them even more.”
Smith added that she thought that by FDT delving deeply into the stories performed, it allowed for each person in the audience to be able to relate to something.
“I think that recognizing important moments is a theme that people of all ages can relate to,” Smith said. “I hope that our audiences and our community recognized the value of exploring the stories we tell and the characters that we bring to life through dance.”