Impact of Dance Extensions on Student Dancers

A close up of two dancers faces as they look serious, faces upturned.

This semester Rowan University’s Contemporary Dance Company Dance Extensions put on its first ever Dance Extensions Showcase. Dance Extensions is a student-run dance organization on campus that is working to “promote dance as art.” This performance was held at Pfleeger Concert Hall, near the new Wilson Hall Dance Studios, and featured 14 student-choreographed works. 

The current Executive Board of Dance Extensions includes Tyler Benson (president, sophomore), Jordyn Dauter (vice President, sophomore), Valentina Giannattasio (secretary, sophomore), Cade MacFee (treasurer, senior), Tara Tucci (historian, sophomore), Bella Campo (senator, first-year) and Sophie Creed (senator, first-year).

A dramatically lit stage with dancers embracing one another.
From left: Emma Chang, Sophie Creed, Bella Campo, Alexa Bonuomo, Kathryn Honnig, Tara Tucci & Tyler Benson performing in the Dance Extensions Company Opening Number “Last Minute” choreographed by Vice President, Jordyn Dauter & Historian, Tara Tucci.

What was the inspiration behind this piece?

Alexa Bonuomo, a senior elementary education major and dance minor from Haddonfield, NJ (Camden County) choreographed a duet titled “MOVE.” Alexa says, “This piece was definitely meant to be a crowd-pleaser and to get the audience excited. We wanted to portray confidence and the idea that if you have your friends with you, you are unstoppable.”

Her duet partner LisaMarie Casazza, a sophomore dance and education double major from Clayton, NJ (Gloucester County) adds, “When Alexa and I first heard about the showcase, we wanted to perform a fun, upbeat dance that would give off positive vibes to the audience and lift people up.”

Jordyn Dauter, a sophomore dance and exercise science double major with an honors concentration from Quakertown PA, says “My group piece was inspired by the video game Mario Kart, specifically the track in the game ‘Rainbow Road.’ I wanted to challenge myself choreographically with a musical theater-style piece. My goal was to create something that isn’t seen very often in the dance industry.”

What was it like seeing your dances develop from the beginning to the end of the rehearsal process?

Sophomore dance and environmental science double major and biology minor Tara Tucci from Pilesgrove, NJ (Salem County) says, “Seeing my routines develop from beginning to end was something so surreal. I had a clear vision in my head of what I wanted the end result to be, and my cast surpassed that expectation. It was so amazing to see their passion in their performance, and how that grew as they learned more of the routine.” Tara choreographed a group piece titled “My Hand,” which closed out Act 1 of the showcase.

Sophie Creed, a first-year dance and theatre arts major with a concentration in musical theatre says, “It was really cool seeing my dance from rehearsal to the stage! All of the elements that were added on stage (lights and enhanced sounds) were so exciting and looked incredible. I loved seeing my vision come to life.” Sophie choreographed a group piece titled “Connections,” which was seen during Act 1.

Cade MacFee, a senior theatre arts major with concentrations in musical theatre, directing, theatre education & acting, and dance Minor from Eldersburg, MD adds, “It felt very gratifying to take this next step as a company and show what we’ve been creating. It was so incredible to see our potential and purpose be realized and to see us take nothing for granted as we keep moving forward.” Cade performed in the Dance Extensions Opening Number “Last Minute” and the Improvisational Score “Where Does Time Go?” composed by sophomore Valentina Giannattasio.

Three dancers grimace while dramatically posing their hands.
Company Member Lily Snow performing in the Dance Extensions Company Opening Number “Last Minute.”

What was the most valuable thing you learned from rehearsals?

First-year law & justice studies and disaster preparedness double major Kaitlyn Mycyk of Mercer County, NJ, says, “It’s okay to step out of your comfort zone.” Kaitlyn performed in three different styles of dance pieces, contemporary, improvisation, and musical theater. 

Sydney Craig, a junior psychology major, and women & gender studies minor with an honors concentration, from Gloucester County, NJ, shares, “My favorite part of the show was watching all of my friend’s performances from the wings and cheering each other on!”

Valentina Giannattasio, a sophomore dance and marketing double major with a certificate of undergraduate study (CUGS) in sustainable urbanism from Buenos Aires, Argentina says, “I learned that sometimes you need to step out and see things from another perspective. While choreographing it is really easy to get lost in your own thoughts and ideas, and most of the time this affects the result of whatever you are working on. I personally learned that looking at my choreography from a different point of view helped me better understand the concept of my piece and therefore portray the story I wanted to in a more meaningful way.” Valentina choreographed a contemporary dance about the survivors of World War 2, which was seen in Act 2 of the showcase.

Dancers stand with arms outstretched to the left.
From left: Tyler Benson, Emma Chang & Bryce O’Donnell performing in Secretary, Valentina Giannattasio’s work “Unchangeable Past, Fixable Future.”

What was it like performing and/or seeing your choreography on stage during the first-ever Dance Extensions Showcase?

Alexa Bonuomo says, “It was such an incredible feeling to see my work and the work of my friends be displayed to the public. These dancers and choreographers deserve to show their work and express their own art.”

Adding to Alexa’s sentiments, Sydney Craig shares, “I haven’t truly been on stage performing like this in over two years so I was quite emotional. I am so grateful to be back doing what I love with such amazing, down-to-earth people.”

What was your favorite part of the show?

Jordyn Dauter says that her favorite part of the show was “watching all of the company members thrive and perform as a group. We dedicated a lot of time to this showcase, and seeing it come together was a beautiful experience. I had just as much fun performing as I did watching my fellow company members on stage. Everyone looked like they were very happy to be on stage.”

Cade MacFee adds, “Standing in the wings, cheering on each dance with the rest of the company was such a moving experience for me. All of us put so much of our time and energy into that one night and for all of us to be supporting each other as we were so vulnerable with our art was a great reminder to me that this is why what we do matters. We create community through dance, and community is how we change the world.”

Five dancers pose while on the floor, with rainbow colored lights illuminating them.
From left: Tyler Benson, Sophie Creed, Jordyn Dauter, Bella Campo, and Emma Margolies performing in the closing number “Rainbow Road” choreographed by Vice President, Jordyn Dauter.

How has being a part of Dance Extensions benefitted you as a dancer and performer?

Emma Margolies, a first-year double major in accounting and finance, dance minor and honors concentration from Toms River, NJ (Ocean County) says that, “Being a part of Dance Extensions has benefitted me as both a dancer and a performer by giving me the opportunity to build connections and friendships with people who share the same passions as I do. Dance Extensions has provided me with the performance opportunities that truly bring out my passion and love for this art form.”

Cade MacFee adds, “I wouldn’t even be close to where I am as a dancer if it wasn’t for Dance Extensions. Through this company, I have been able to learn so many styles, train my body and mind to understand and best practice dance as a performer, and become a skilled student and teacher of dance.”

What has been your favorite memory with Dance Extensions?

Emma Margolies says, “My favorite memory within Dance Extensions is definitely the first rehearsal we had for Rainbow Road. At the time, especially as a freshman, all of the people were strangers to me. Fast forward four months later, those same people are some of my best friends. Dance Extensions has brought me to my people and I am forever grateful.”

Tara Tucci says her favorite memory with Dance Extensions is, “Without a doubt this showcase. It really brought the company together, and it was so breathtaking to see what students could pull off by ourselves.”

The dance extensions team stands in a dance pose on stage.
From: Alexa Bonuomo, Sydney Craig, Kaitlyn Mycyk, Lily Snow, Isabella Castells, Bryce O’Donnell, Emma Margolies & Cade MacFee (Treasurer) performing in the Dance Extensions Company Opening Number “Last Minute.”

To learn more about RU Dance Extensions follow @rudanceextensions on Instagram!

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Written by: Jordyn Dauter, sophomore dance & elementary education major

Photos by: Joseph Conte, junior community and environmental planning major

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