Dance company plans for spring show

Emily Harris/The News
Sarah Showalter, president of the Murray State Dance Company, organizes the dance company’s practices and showcases.Emily Harris/The News Sarah Showalter, president of the Murray State Dance Company, organizes the dance company’s practices and showcases.

Story by Monika Staszscak, Staff writer

Emily Harris/The News Sarah Showalter, president of the Murray State Dance Company, organizes the dance company’s practices and showcases.

Emily Harris/The News
Sarah Showalter, president of the Murray State Dance Company, organizes the dance company’s practices and showcases.

Student-run organizations, such as the Murray State Dance Company, face many hardships to exist on a campus, where every year they battle for space and resources.

This dance team operating at Murray State gives students and alumni an opportunity to express themselves through dance.

Founded in 2008, the company is an alternative for students after the dance minor was removed from the curriculum at Murray State.

Even though it is fully student-run and operated, the company is not recognized by Murray State as an official student organization. Students who run the organization have to fight many battles and sacrifice much to keep this dance team going.

A lot more goes into organizing a performance than an average audience member realizes, and organizing it all as a fulltime student can be a struggle.

Everything starts with recruiting team members. Auditions are held every September and all Murray Student students and alumni are welcome on the team. One can audition to be in many different dance style teams, such as modern, African, jazz, contemporary, kick, Bollywood, hip hop and ballet.

The end goal for the dance team is the end of the year showcase, the final performance, where the team presents what they have achieved throughout the year. This year the show is on April 23-24 in the Robert E. Johnson Theatre on campus.

“It’s what all of our effort goes toward for one payoff at the end of the year,” said Sarah Showalter, the Murray State Dance Company president.

Profits from the show are important for the team, since that is how they fund the costumes, dance shoes, tights, rent and workers for next year’s show, Showalter said.

“It’s really rewarding to see peers getting along and learning from one another and building a relationship through the dances,” she said.

Angelica Aconfora is a former member and president of the dance team, and although she graduated in December, she is still acting as president and fights for the dance company.

When she joined the team, it only consisted of 15 members – now it has 28.

As president, Aconfora said she worked on expanding the company and building a good relationship with the Murray State faculty and staff. She put a lot of effort and her personal time into the company to keep it afloat and make the showcase happen.

“We give students a family and a place to freely explore their abilities” Aconfora said.

In order to be able to operate on campus, the company has to endure many difficulties. Just to schedule rehearsals in the Carr Health Dance Studio, they have to go through a month-long process before the season starts.

This process entails emailing their staff and signing up for approved time slots on an online form system, Aconfora said. It is the same difficult and time-consuming process every year, even though the dance company has been using the same dance studio since its founding in 2008, Aconfora said.

Scheduling the spring showcase in the Johnson Theatre is even more difficult. Heidi Ortega, the company’s adviser assists with this process, Aconfora said.

“Johnson Theatre is the only theatre on campus equipped properly for our show and we love the space,” Aconfora said.

To use the theater, they have to work around all the Murray State theatre productions. After scheduling the performance, the company has to hire Murray State approved theater students familiar with Johnson Theatre to run the lights and sound for the show, Aconfora said.

Other options on campus could be the Curris Center ballroom or Lovett Auditorium, but both cost hundreds of dollars a day to use, not including hiring a technical crew, all of which the company cannot afford, Aconfora said.

To help with the financial side, the company gets involved on campus. They have volunteered at the CFSB center for cleanup after games. They hope to be able to apply for scholarship money so the company has financial freedom to actually utilize what the campus has to offer, Aconfora said.

“We have been waiting for the day that the Murray State Dance Company is recognized by Murray State in terms of what we do and our mission to incorporate all people of all dance experience and give them the opportunity to express themselves,” Aconfora said.