/Standing ovation Hinds Community College dance students ‘brought the house down’ at Carnegie Hall

Standing ovation Hinds Community College dance students ‘brought the house down’ at Carnegie Hall

The four days spent in New York City to support HCC’s Montage Theatre of Dance were a treasure trove of eye-opening, heart-thumping moments and a prestigious gig. Willie Hunt, a Jackson freshman, was humbled. “Being from a small town, you can see the big cities and not just the big lights and buildings. We feel like we have an opportunity. It’s all happening so quickly. It can be overwhelming if you let it get to you. But performing — it’s just, whew!” He grinned, his excitement still tingling in his face. Montage Theatre of Dance was among the 14 preprofessional dance companies selected to participate in the Performing Arts Educators 14th Anniversary Invitational at Carnegie Hall January 18. This festival promotes pure dance on a world class stage. It does not allow for the distraction of set or scenery and focuses on the art form without any competition. Ashton Reynolds, a Byram freshman, stated that Carnegie Hall was “so beautiful” upon his first encounter with it. “All the work inside, including the ceiling and all the gold. There is gold and white everywhere. You see red velvet seats and you can see all the people who are supporting you on that stage. You put your best foot forward on that stage.” This was Montage’s second appearance in the invitational. The first was in 2009. Tiffany Jefferson, HCC’s dance director, brought home the Del Kieffner award, which honors those who have gone above and beyond in helping students live a better life. Reynolds stated that some of the students cried so hard they had to get backstage. Jefferson, their teacher, admitted that it was him. He backed her up, saying “It was me too.” Montage performed the opening number of “The Dance of the Lion King” in front of a sold-out crowd of approximately 2,800 people. It is based on the Disney animated film and incorporates many dance genres — hip hop, African Caribbean (a hip-hop/ballet hybrid), modern, tap, jazz, and modern circus work — into the narrative collage. They received a standing ovation. Festival
Matt Straub, artistic director and producer. “It was one of the most moving sets I’ve ever seen in my
This was my twenty-somethingth year of doing it. It was breathtaking.” Hannah Mackenzie, a sophomore in Ohio, stated that the crowd was amazing and the energy was palpable. “When we were taking out our bows, and seeing all the smiling faces and cheering for us, that made a big impression on me. “Miss Tiffany worked hard with us and made sure that we deserved that stage.” Camea Dixon, a Clinton freshman, said, “I never thought that I would be able dance in New York City on the Carnegie Hall stage.” “I was nervous but also excited. “I had a great time.” There were 18 students and two instructors, as well as three instructors’ children (who also
Also performed: took dance classes at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Broadway Dance Center, and “The Lion King”. Other Broadway productions included “A Soldier’s Play”, “Frozen”, and “The Lion King”. We also visited the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York’s dance class was a great source of inspiration. Dixon was a little intimidated by theater dance classes and vowed to be more confident when she returned home. Reynolds also enjoyed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater class.
Taken home. “Seeing a black man performing there gives you hope that your abilities can match his.” Hunt recalls his first impression of Carnegie Hall. He walked in, looked up and saw images of previous performers such as Leontyne price, Lady Gaga and The Beatles. “I began to wonder to myself, “Why me?” He said. Then he remembered Jefferson’s preperformance lectures and how he should think “Why not me?” “It doesn’t really matter where you are from. If you can make it to it, then it’s possible to get over it. Jefferson advises her students to not limit themselves. “Don’t get prepared, stay ready,” Jefferson says. It’s a saying they are familiar enough with to recommend T-shirts that include the phrase. This is how they got the chance. “Whenever you have an opportunity, it’s when you seize them.” This is one way to help share an art form that often gets overlooked. Music, theatre and
Movies all have a place in our lives, and we all have favorite artists lists. But most people can’t name a favorite choreographer. “We also know that dance can move cultures in many ways. No pun intended. She said, “You must be able connect with your community, be in touch with people.” The Montage’s most memorable piece, “The Dance of the Lion King”, is a tale that connects emotion, loss, growth, humor, and African culture. Straub stated, “You could pick a thousand people from the street and they would have loved it.”
He said, “Tiffany knows her stuff,” and praised Montage’s strength and success
Particularly at a college that has high levels of dancer turnover, especially at a second-year college. Montage Theatre of Dance’s “The Dance of the Lion King” will be performed at Thalia Mara Hall, Jackson, Feb. 9, and Cain-Cochran Hall, HCC’s Raymond campus February 11-13.