In the Carlson Theatre at Bellevue College, a group of dancers run around the lobby, saying hello to their friends and family fifteen minutes before the show of the year is about to begin. They all take turns encouraging each other, trying to calm down nerves and ramp up excitement. As a part of this, the group starts dancing in the lobby to a pre-choreographed Ed Sheeran song as a way to welcome in anyone who walks through the front door to pick up tickets. Suddenly, the lights begin to flash and they all run backstage, smiling politely at the claps that follow them as they go to finish all the final preparations necessary, the show is about to start.
All year long, the Bellevue College Dance Company – otherwise known as the BCDC – and other various groups on campus have been working with professors and professionals to put together their annual show. This year, the company performed on May 5 and 6 at the Carlson theatre to a full crowd. Along with the Bellevue College Dance Company, five other BC groups performed at the Festival. The clubs that performed were the African Student Association, Han Traditional Chinese Culture Club, Pop dance club, a traditional Vietnamese folk dance club, and the Flash Mob. All of these groups were invited for the first time in the history of the festival to join in in the spirit of the theme, which was world dance. “The theme is World Dance Festival,” said Laura Peterson, faculty advisor and director of the festival, “Tammi Doyle, the chair of the theatre arts department, and I wanted to open up the performance to the many clubs we have on campus. Many of these clubs celebrate the diversity of their cultures and express them in different ways, like dancing.”
However, dancing was not the forte of all of these groups so while all of the BCDC’s dance numbers were student and faculty choreographed, other clubs brought in outside people to teach them traditional dances. “BCDC this year is student-based choreography, besides a jazz and modern dance choreographed by me as their artistic adviser. For the clubs, some have brought in outside choreographers, while others have their dances based on traditional folk dances from their country,” said Peterson.
While work technically began on this project in January, it has been in development for a long time. The amount of preparation it takes to choregraph an hour long show, get people to join, get matching costumes, and then teach all of that choreography to the point of near perfection took just under nine months. Peterson said “I started prepping for this back in fall of 2016, gathering dancers and sharing ideas.”
If any Bellevue College students would like to join the Bellevue College Dance Company they either need to be an intermediate dancer or they could join a club with a dance group inside of it. “Dance is such a great way to express yourself non-verbally. Many of my students experience a joy they don’t quite get from anything else. It allows them to be artistic, expressive and tell a story through movement. Dancing is also a great way to build strength, flexibility and poise. Additionally, for new choreographers, it’s a safe space to create and explore their own personal choreographic process.” Peterson said.