Troy University fields new dance program, ensemble

Posted: Thursday, 26 June 2008

TROY – A newly formed repertory dance ensemble will help kick off Troy University’s new dance minor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The Department of Theatre and Dance, created this spring within the College of Communication and Fine Arts, will begin offering the dance minor this fall. It marks the first time dance has been recognized at the University as an arts discipline, according to Adena Moree, director of theatre.

“With the revitalized program, we are envisioning a total package in dance,” she said. “The performance-based dance minor and the Ensemble will allow students with extensive dance training and performance experience prior to high school graduation to continue that tradition at Troy University.”

Prior to the change, dance was taught within the College of Health and Human Services as part of the physical education curriculum.

“This is a whole new attitude,” said Dr. Maryjo Cochran, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts. “We’re taking these classes out of a physical education forum, bringing them into the fine arts and making our program much more contemporary.”

“The TROY Dance Repertory Ensemble will operate much like a commercial dance company with apprentices and a junior company made up of young dancers from our area,” Moree said. “It will function as a billboard for what we’re trying to establish on the Troy Campus and will guarantee another stellar performance group for TROY audiences, ensuring a more varied cultural experience for our students and the community at large.”

Though the program strongly emphasizes ballet, it will focus primarily on contemporary dance, jazz and musical theater performance -- providing dancers the opportunity “to continue doing what they’ve spent their pre-college years loving,” Moree said. “Our concentration will be on performance and instruction; therefore, in addition to classroom instruction, we intend to offer master-teacher workshops and also to include conventions like ‘The Pulse’ for instructional and exposure purposes.”

The inaugural Ensemble, recruited by faculty member Deborah Hicks, who helped organize both the program and Ensemble, will allow students to continue their dance careers.

These six dancers have specialized backgrounds in the field: one currently apprentices with Alabama Ballet in Birmingham, one comes from Birmingham Dance Theatre where she has, this year, placed first in two regional dance convention scholarship auditions, one comes to TROY from the Alvin Ailey bachelor of fine arts program in New York City, two are state Junior Miss talent winners, two hold national solo titles, another placed third overall in the Youth America Grand Prix, and one dances professionally as far away as Japan.

“The talented dancers who comprise our first Ensemble will set a high standard of quality by which future generations of TROY dancers will be measured,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., Chancellor of the University. “Their fitness, talent and professional demeanor promise to inspire and excite many audiences during the year ahead.”

The members of Troy Dance Repertory Ensemble are:

  • Adrienne Hicks, a junior transfer student from Troy
  • Stephanie New, a sophomore from Huntsville
  • Kerry Obrien, a dancer from Dothan
  • Alex Straughn, a freshman from Mobile
  • Sydnii Todd, a freshman from Birmingham
  • Brantley Wilson, a freshman from Hartselle

Apprentices are Christina Green, a freshman sport and fitness management major from Dothan, Leanna Kornegay, a freshman nursing major from Centreville, and Bailey Bankston, an entering freshman from Dothan.

The Ensemble and dance minor, however, is just the beginning, according to Moree, adding that “the department’s aim is to build beyond that scope, hopefully partnering with other established companies and studios as well as area schools. We anticipate building an opportunity from the seeds of this minor that will bloom into a major and, in turn, allow TROY and the College of Communication and Fine Arts to become the flagship for all four arts education disciplines.”

“Until then, the minor, dance concert productions, and the Ensemble will allow students to continue both their performance and competitive dance interests,” she said.

TROY Dance Repertory Ensemble will take the stage this fall, premiering at the University’s Faculty and Freshman Odyssey Convocations and for the general public on Sept. 26, as the University hosts a gala for the newly created department. Along with the Ensemble, the Montgomery Ballet will be featured in that performance.

Kellie Folger

Members of the TROY Dance Repertory Ensemble, a newly formed dance company within the University’s new dance minor, are (seated) Brantley Wilson of Hartselle, (left to right) Adrienne Hicks of Troy, Sydnii Todd of Birmingham, Alex Straughn of Mobile and Kerry Obrien of Dothan. Not pictured is Stephanie New of Huntsville. The Ensemble will help the Department of Theatre and Dance showcase its newest program. (TROY photo/Kevin Glackmeyer)