A peek into the Linfield Dance Ensemble: Student showcase scheduled for this weekend

Linfield students practicing for the upcoming dance showcase. (Annemarie Mullet)

Linfield students practicing for the upcoming dance showcase. (Annemarie Mullet)

Annemarie Mullet, Staff Writer

At Linfield University, there are many talented groups that fly under the radar. One of these groups is Linfield’s Dance Ensemble, run by choreographer and professor, Sarah Shouse. 

Housed in the Music Department, many students at Linfield don’t even know  that there’s a dance program at the school at all. Dance classes are under the MUSC category, and Dance Ensemble is listed as MUSC*070. This ensemble features a joint showcase at the end of the semester. 

Anyone can audition for the showcase, even if they are not part of the class. Zee Nace, a sophomore at Linfield, is one of the students just in the showcase. “I couldn’t take the class, but I was still welcome to come audition for the showcase,” Nace said.

The Linfield Dance Ensemble showcase is being held at ICE Auditorium this year on May 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. The show will feature nine dances from the ensemble, and two from Linfield’s LatinX Adelante Club, LULA. Attendees can expect performances in modern, jazz, tap, spoken word, and folklorico.

Five of the dancers in the showcase are Linfield students, and the other five are students from Oregon State University. Shouse also teaches at OSU, and decided to have a few collaboration pieces between Linfield and OSU students in the showcase.

A week before the show, the OSU and Linfield dancers got to practice together for the first time this semester. 

“I don’t know that it was necessarily hard to merge the two groups as both were prepared enough. Combining the two groups gives an energy increase because each group is finally seeing the pieces come together,” Shouse said. 

Sarah Shouse (provided by Shouse)
Sarah Shouse (provided by Shouse)

Shouse allowed students to choreograph dances as part of the learning experience. 

“The Linfield Ensemble got to choose their own genre of dance and what they wanted to do musically,” she said. “We just started to work through different choreographic devices and different ideas they wanted to incorporate into the dance. They have freedom to explore creatively.”

For the students, choreographing was new, but exciting. Aimee Ritchy, a freshman at Linfield, had a great experience trying out new things with her classmates. “I choreographed the tap dance that we do. It went very well because these ladies picked up tapping real fast,” Ritchey said. “I’m very impressed with what people have done.”

Ritchy, having tap experience, was helpful in guiding the other students, as the rest had minimal tap experience. But there was no judgment, as Ritchy pointed out. “We’re here to make dance a non-toxic atmosphere” she said.

Ritchy tap dancing (Annemarie Mullet)

Other dancers got to choreograph their favorite styles as well. Freshman Alice Cowie choreographed a dance.. “I have a jazz musical theater 60s themed dance. It’s fun, it harkens back to my roots in musical theater, as I used to compete in musical theater through the years for dance,” Cowie shared.

Emma Bare, also a freshman at Linfield, went another route. “My dance is contemporary style, which stems from my studio training. I got to choose the song and choreographed my own dance,” said Bare.

The ensemble practicing Bare’s dance. (Annemarie Mullet)

Cowie believes dance is for everyone. “You don’t have to be good, we just want people to have fun. Dance is not very well known as an art form or as a sport and just getting people to check it out is worth dancing” said Cowie. 

Continuing with a smile, Cowie highlighted that it’s not always an easy road, even if the dancers make it look easy. “Even as someone who has practice I still struggle with remembering I’m still a good dancer. Even if you mess up and fall I literally fell flat on my face earlier but it didn’t negate my dancing skills, you just get up and keep going,” said Cowie.

Freshman Savy Short, the final member of the ensemble, has cheerleading on her list of dance skills. “I’ve learned you’re gonna make mistakes, you’re gonna mess up, but knowing that you can practice and get better that’s a push to improve, and knowing mistakes are ok helps encourage growth,” Short said about being newer to dance.

The community created by the ensemble helps encourage growth as well. “This class is literally a friendship, there’s a bond in the air, it’s a found friendship. I could be cliche and call it a family,” Richty said.

Nace had a similar feeling. “Dance gives you a feeling of community. You can have your own individual dance journey but having a group of people to do dance with helps you feel confident in the individual dance you’re performing,” Nace said. 

When asked what the dancers wanted the audience to take from the show, Richty said with fervor and requested the words be in all caps in this story. “JOIN DANCE! COME WATCH! HAVE FUN!” Richty said.

Join the Linfield Dance Ensemble Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7, in ICE Auditorium at 7 p.m. for their showcase. Tickets are free for K-12 students and Linfield students with an ID, and $10 for anyone else. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test are required for entry.