The Department of Dance at Hope College will present its annual concert, Dance 50 this year, on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9 and 10, and Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 15-17, at 7:30 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre.
While the concert is different every year, this 50th installment is special, with the program and additional events providing an opportunity to celebrate the department’s past, present and future. “Dance 50 is not just another showcase,” said department chair Matt Farmer, who is the Dorothy Wiley DeLong Professor of Dance. “It is a way for people to actively participate in history.”
The sequentially named concert debuted as Dance 1 in March 1975 in the DeWitt Center main theatre, and has never missed a year since. This year’s choreographers include a wide range of past and current Hope faculty, alumni and guests. Approximately 50 Hope students will perform, with nearly 20 others working on technical and costume crews.
Multiple celebratory events scheduled in conjunction with the 50th will include a major gathering on Feb. 17 for dance alumni that will host more than 130 returning alumni from the past five decades. Everyone who passes through the DeWitt Center’s main entrance for the concerts will also see the future: The Heeringa Dance Wing, a major addition to the department’s instructional and performance space, is currently under construction adjacent to the theatre.
The concert program will feature seven works in different styles including jazz, tap, contemporary, modern, hip hop, and ballet. The choreographers are Maxine DeBruyn and William Charles Crowley; M. Linda Graham; Ray Tadio; Crystal Frazier; Steven Iannacone, Sharon Wong; and an original work from Manhattan Tap choreographed by director, and current faculty member, Heather Cornell.
Erik Alberg not only takes on the role of director of design and production but also lighting designer. Sound design is by Ken Chamberlain, costume and shop management is by Anna Hill and Cindy Alberg serves as stage manager.
The opening work on the program, “Atmo-Sphere,” honors DeBruyn’s role as the department’s founder and her dedication to dance and dance education, not only at Hope but nationally and internationally. DeBruyn, who died at age 83 on Dec. 9, 2020, joined the Hope faculty in 1965 and created and taught the college’s first dance course. She retired in 2006 but remained active in the department for several more years. “Atmo-Sphere’s” co-choreographer, William Charles Crowley, is a 1992 Hope graduate and former student of DeBruyn’s. He is artistic director of Still Point Productions, and has taught and performed internationally.
From the first course taught by DeBruyn, dance became an academic department at Hope, offering a minor, in 1974. The minor grew into a major in dance in 1984. Today, the department offers two different dance majors and two minors, with coursework that is a combination of theory and technique, including ballet, Hip Hop, jazz, modern and tap. More than 250 students are enrolled in the department’s courses in any given semester, including approximately 75 who have declared majors or minors.
Hope has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance since 1982, and the Department of Dance has received a variety of honors through the years. A year ago, in February 2023, it received the 2023 Inspiration Award from Chicago Tap Theatre, one of the nation’s top tap companies, as a leader in tap dance education.
Tickets for Dance 50 are $10 for regular admission, $7 for senior citizens and Hope faculty and staff, and $5 for children ages 13-17, and free for Hope students and children 12 and under. Tickets are available at the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. 8th St.). The office is open for ticket sales on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890. Tickets may also be purchased online at hope.edu/tickets.
To inquire about accessibility or if you need accommodations to fully participate in the event, please email email@example.com. Updates related to events are posted when available at hope.edu/calendar in the individual listings.
The DeWitt Student and Cultural Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue between 10th and 13th streets.