The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday March 25th

Clear mind, dancing shoes, can’t lose: Modernextension Dance Company serves as second family

Modern Extensions dancer,...posing in attitude.
Buy Photos Modern Extensions dancer,...posing in attitude.

“One of the essays I wrote to get accepted to college started out with ‘When I perform, my soul explodes out of my body.’ I just think that that is pretty telling,” Zitney said. “It just clears my mind. People say going on runs clears their mind — dancing clears mine.”

Zitney, who serves as social and fundraising chairperson for Modernextension Dance Company, said she likes all kinds of dance, although she started in ballet. Recently, she has developed a passion for blues dance.

“I miss ballet, but modern gives me the flexibility to do what I want while still having a structure to work in,” she said.

Zitney said she has a better understanding of music thanks to dance.

“I love it, because it allows me to connect with music and life through a lens I think a lot of people don’t get to,” Zitney said. “It gives me a unique perspective on the world, getting to understand music in this particular way, or my body in this particular way.”

When Modernextension performs on Sunday night, the improvisational performance will be unlike anything most people have ever seen, Zitney said.

“If you’ve ever closed the door to your room, turned on music and just danced around, we’re channeling that energy into art and a performance and something that people want to come see as a dance ... It’s taking the idea of improv and just raw emotion and turning it into art.”

Modernextension’s vice president, Dana Gentry, said Zitney was in her piece last year.

“She was incredibly enthusiastic and involved and engaged all the time,” Gentry said. “She was always ready to listen, but also to give her own ideas.”

One of Modernextension’s presidents, Sarah Richardson, said they are a pre-professional dance company with about 29 members.

“I think we’re a little different than some of the other dance groups, because we have professionals from the surrounding area come and teach classes so that way we can kind of keep up technique,” Richardson said.

Richardson said prior experience is not a prerequisite to be a part of Modernextension.

“We’re more based on creativity, so we kind of look for dancers who are confident in themselves and have an understanding of their body and are comfortable expressing themselves in that capacity,” she said. “We do look for dancers who have technique, but that’s not required. We’re more looking for creative movers.”

Zitney and Richardson both said Modernextension felt like a family.

“What we like to base ourselves on is that we’re a family — a dance family — and we think the dance community shouldn’t be so close-minded,” Richardson said. “It shouldn’t be just people who have previous dance experience.”

Modernextension brings together people from a variety of dance backgrounds, Zitney said.

“It’s fascinating to see how someone like myself, who comes from a very ballet-centered background, and how that ends up mixing with someone like Sarah and her very hip-hop based background,” Zitney said. “You see those two come together and create this interesting style that isn’t as prominent.”


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