Variety On Stage | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's note: The author of this post, Crystal Baity, is a contributor to ECU News Services.

Dance 2015 features ballet to hip-hop in annual production

    East Carolina University sophomore Katherine Corbett may be best known for her ballet and tap skills, but she also can sew.

    Corbett has been helping make tutus for Dance 2015, the Department of Theatre and Dance's annual production presented by the ECU/Loessin Playhouse beginning Jan. 29 in McGinnis Theatre.

    The show will be held at 8 p.m. nightly through Feb. 3. The only matinee performance has already sold out.

ECU dancer Katherine Corbett, center, enjoyed applying her skills both in dance and in costume design toward the Dance 2015 performance.
    "You get to see all different styles of dance," Corbett said. "It's really interesting because each piece is so different from the others. If you don't like one piece, you'll like something else because the styles are so different."

    Corbett considered majoring in dance and costume design, but ultimately chose dance performance. To maintain her design interest, she began volunteering in the costume shop with supervisor Dorothy Austin and designer and faculty member Cybele Moon.

    "They give me assignments and guidance on how to build things," Corbett said. Creating bodices with stiff boning and working with delicate material has been a challenge. "A lot goes into tutus," she said.

    An understudy last year, Corbett said that experience helped introduce her to the choreographers and prepare her for this year's production.

    Corbett will appear in the opening scene as part of a trio of ballerinas performing an excerpt of the classic Swan Lake set by ECU faculty member Galina Panova.

    Corbett also will be featured in a fun, theatrical tap piece, Chance of Rain, choreographed by ECU faculty member Dirk Lumbard.

    Not being forced to pick one type of dance over another drew Corbett to ECU's all-around program in modern, jazz and ballet. "A lot of colleges make you choose, but here, you do everything," she said. "Another reason I was interested in ECU is there are so many opportunities to perform, and perform in different settings."

    Last fall, the school added a second main stage performance, giving students another opportunity, which speaks to the growth of the program. Another is the expected 2016 opening of a $4 million dance building in renovated space one block west of the corner of 10th and Evans streets.

The Dance 2015 show promises a wide variety of performance styles designed to please the audience.
    Patricia "Patti" Weeks has taught modern dance at ECU for 35 years and has helped choreograph parts of ECU's annual main stage dance performance since its start.

    "There is always variety in the show, but I feel this one has one of the broadest ranges of topics, approaches, ideas and music," Weeks said. "You'll see a wide range of performance qualities, really strong athletic dance to subtle character interactions."

    One of six ECU faculty choreographers, Weeks created Hearts are Young, an original modern piece about falling in love featuring seven dancers. "It's about the potential of fresh young love," she said. "The concept is they want to commit but can't."

    Creating a story for an audience without words is an interesting process, one that ultimately gives the viewer freedom to interpret, she said.

    "We don't have a script, which is wonderful," Weeks said. "We don't expect the audience to understand every movement but maybe it's just making a connection with the beauty of the movement or making them think about their lives in a different way."

    Dance 2015 also will feature work by guest artists including hip-hop choreographer Joe-Joe "Grooves" Smith and Roni Koresh, artistic director of the Koresh Dance Company, in conjunction with the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series.

    More than 100 ECU students and at least a dozen faculty members are involved in the production, many working behind the scenes.

    Tickets are $15 for the general public and $12 for ECU students/youth and are available at the McGinnis Theatre Box Office. For more information, call 252-328-6829 or go to

East Carolina University student dancers prepare for their performance during a dress rehearsal for Dance 2015, which opens at ECU Jan. 29. More than 100 students and at least a dozen faculty members have pooled their talents in dance, choreography, production and design to present the annual show. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

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