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ODU hosts its first Pre-Collegiate Summer Dance Intensive

By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

Filled to capacity, the dance studio in Diehn Hall vibrated with music and the steps of young, hopeful dancers.

Old Dominion University's first Pre-Collegiate Summer Dance Intensive, a week-long summer program, was designed to teach high school-aged students the fundamentals of dance and give them a look at college dance life. The five-day camp lets students participate in four master classes per day taught by ODU faculty, adjuncts and alumni in a variety of styles, including ballet, hip hop, aerial dance, modern/contemporary and many more.

"There are moments that are really challenging for everybody," said James Morrow, associate professor of dance in the Communication and Theatre Arts Department. "It's important that dancers have versatility, and that's reinforced here."

The focus on different types of movement and variety of dance styles is part of what attracted Ashton Hendrickson, 14; Jessica Watkins, 17; Kimberley Potter, 15; Kara Bergstrom, 17; and Clara Minkewicz, 17, to the Summer Dance Intensive.

Having experience in a number of dance styles is important to being a well-rounded dancer, Watkins said.

"They are not only teaching us the techniques, but how our bodies should feel when we're doing them," said Watkins, who's from Virginia Beach. "We're also focusing on other techniques, like breathing."

Although this is the first time the event has been held, it was at full capacity with 36 dancers from as close as Norfolk to as far away as Richmond and Fairfax. Three students are attending on scholarships from the nonprofit Teens with A Purpose, which focuses on empowering young people from Hampton Roads.

"Each day is a little different so they're getting a wide variety of movement and being exposed to dance types they may not be familiar with," Morrow said.

Each teacher's style is slightly different, which provides a contrast with the studios and programs students are used to, said Potter, who's from Chesapeake.

"It's interesting, because you're partnered with people you've never danced with before, and at some points, that makes it more challenging," added Minkewicz, of Pungo.

Along with Morrow and other university faculty, ODU dance students enrolled in an internship course are helping run the camp and providing advice on college life.

"The Intensive is a chance to build technique and produce new choreography while gaining an introduction to arts facilities at the University," said Cullen Strawn, executive director for the Arts at ODU.

The weeklong Intensive included two dance concerts that were open to the public, with one featuring University alumni.

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