Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble explores contemporary dance art in ‘Duality’
By Adrienne Warber
West Michigan is a haven for the arts, especially dance. The greater Grand Rapids area offers many creative opportunities to both view and participate in dance-related events. One great dance opportunity is Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble, which offers a creative voice for former professional dancers and those who studied dance to perform and choreograph. This weekend Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble will explore the art of contemporary dance in their production of “Duality,” in two performances on May 4-5 at Pioneer Auditorium at Wealthy Elementary in East Grand Rapids.
Artistic Expression in Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble’s ‘Duality’
Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble’s “Duality” will explore the nature of opposites and how they interplay. The contemporary dance showcase will include a mix of group dances and solos, choreographed by the ensemble members, including pieces by Grand Rapids Ensemble Founder and Artistic Director Sarah Bethel and featured guest artist Stephanie Rankin. Performers will explore the art of contemporary dance expression through unique themes and collaborations. Rankin choreographed a number on Grand Rapids Ensemble based on Italian writer Dante Aligheri’s Inferno, from his work, “The Divine Comedy,” that will deal with purgatory as a place and inner struggle. Arye Shannon-Carmichael, Grand Rapids Ensemble Assistant Director, will draw with charcoal on canvas as she dances, creating two different mediums of artistic expression in her piece.
“The duality theme will show many opposites – good and evil, selfish and selfless. “Duality” will make you think, feel and hopefully enjoy the experience,” says Bethel.
The show will last for 1.5 hours, with one 20 minute intermission. Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble will also a silent auction during intermission for great prizes donated from local businesses, such as a gym membership and fun local activities. All proceeds from the auction go toward supporting Grand Rapids Ensemble and their vision to cultivate creativity through dance and choreography.
Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble
Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble is a unique platform for former dancers and dance majors who miss performing on stage and have a passion to express their voice in dance and choreography. Founder and Artistic Director Sarah Bethel founded Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble in 2017 in response to seeing a need to give adult dancers a voice in West Michigan. Bethel, a former professional dancer who danced with Sidewalk Productions and Dance in The Annex and a former dance teacher, wanted to form a company that would give every member a chance to fully express their creativity through dance and choreography in West Michigan.
Bethel who is both a Registered Nurse and former dance teacher missed performing and knew many other former dancers working in other fields also missed it. Bethel talks about the founding of Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble, “I founded Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble to give adult dancers an opportunity to keep dancing and to choreograph. We (Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble) encourage creativity through our movement and choreography and hope to create art that both educates and reflects our life experiences.”
The current Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble cast of 11 women are all united in their love of dance and desire to express it. They have backgrounds that vary from majoring in dance, former professional dancing or years of dance training to teaching dance. Many work in other professions during the day, and joined Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble to pursue artistic expression through dance and choreography in high quality performances.
Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble will hold auditions this summer for new members. Any experienced dancer with a desire to dance and choreography is welcome to audition. Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble is especially seeking people with a strong background in contemporary dance and improvisational work. For more information about Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble, visit their website.
Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble will perform “Duality” on Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m. at Pioneeer Auditorium at Wealthy Elementary, 1961 Lake Drive SE East Grand Rapids, MI. Tickets for “Duality” can be purchased at the door for $15 for adults and $7 for kids in cash or check only. Doors open 30 minutes before each performance. For more information about “Duality” or Grand Rapids Ensemble, visit their facebook page.