GVSU dance program part of Grand Rapids Ballet Summer Dance Festival

Members of the Grand Valley dance program, including a new faculty member, are helping Grand Rapids Ballet continue its 50th anniversary celebration with special performances.

Students and faculty member Edgar L. Page, assistant professor of dance, will perform at Grand Rapids Ballet's Summer Dance Festival, which will feature outdoor performances on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27.

“We are excited to present an inclusive and community-centered showcase of the best dance artists and students in Grand Rapids,” said Glenn Del Vecchio, Grand Rapids Ballet executive director. “We are very proud to have been a part of the art and culture of Grand Rapids for the past 50 years and look forward to continuing to serve our region and Michigan into the next 50.”

As the Grand Rapids Ballet sought community partners for the event, the goal was to incorporate various styles of dance and feature artists from across the state, said Jessica Meldrum, marketing director.

"Grand Valley was a natural fit as its dance program presents high-caliber performers and includes the next generation of talent," Meldrum said.

A dancer balances on one leg while extending the other leg. One arm is extended upward, while a hand rests on the extended leg.
The piece scheduled to be performed by dance students was also performed at the GVSU Spring Dance Concert.
Image credit - Courtesy photo

"Grand Valley was a natural fit as its dance program presents high-caliber performers and includes the next generation of talent," Meldrum said.

Ten Grand Valley students will perform a contemporary modern piece choreographed by Hannah Seidel, associate professor of dance. The piece, "This Gentle Pressure," was designed to show the impact just a slight amount of human contact can have on people.

Seidel is glad for the opportunity to showcase the students to the community; they will perform both days. And besides this important exposure for the GVSU dancers, the outside venue is also a good challenge for the students, who will have different considerations than they would in a theater, such as the elements, Seidel said.

"It's exciting for them to have an audience beyond those who come out to the Allendale location," Seidel said. "It's also an opportunity to test their performance chops a bit in a setting that is not their home theater. They're going to be on a raised stage in a parking lot and not have a backstage where you can just disappear."

For Page, the performance on Aug. 26 just as he is arriving at Grand Valley from Denver also represents an opportunity to reset and reground himself in Michigan: he grew up in Detroit.

He said his piece, "Tenderly," is a contemporary modern dance work that is a "retrospective of my work coming from traditions in the African American aesthetic. There's an amplified focus on authentic emotional connection and relating that to a full experience."

A dancer balances on one knee with a hand on the ground while extending the other leg and arm.
A person smiles while posing on a stool with one leg extended.
Edgar L. Page, a new dance faculty member, will perform at the event. (Courtesy photos)

The piece explores the feelings he experienced after taking some time away from performing and reemerging, realizing he was missing the joy of that movement, Page said. That also meant nurturing himself and filtering out negative thoughts.

"The theme that I kept giving myself is 'gentle,' which is why I came up with this title, 'Tenderly,' which is about how we can be so tender with how we are presenting strength, and how we love each other and also ourselves in a real and tender way without the harsh words or the harsh criticism of self," said Page, adding, "That's also one of my objectives with dance. I think the dance world has historically been less than kind to many folks, using language or harsh practices that are really quite damaging in the long run."

As he looks toward his time at Grand Valley, Page said he is excited to pass along to students his knowledge from a robust career, from performance to artistic direction to stage management. 

"I am also very clear about who I am as an educator and making sure I am bringing and giving what I also hope to receive – this gentleness, this grace, but also a lot of passion and definitely fun."


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