For ModernExtension dance company using dance as a means for activism is not out of the ordinary.
In their most recent performance, the group performed dances inspired by a book in the Rare Book Collection at Wilson Library. Their 26th Annual Spring performance — which includes 11 dances — will take place Saturday and Sunday in the Great Hall of the Student Union.
Senior Park Cannon, a Hispanic linguistics major and the group’s co-president, appreciates the focus ModernExtension dancers put on incorporating community issues into their dances.
“Although it is student-run and we have a faculty adviser, it’s also about the community," Cannon said. "We work to create dances that relate to things that happen in our community.”
Senior Celeste Cowan, a biology major and the other ModernExtension co-president, said being a part of the group opens up new opportunities for innovation when it comes to dance.
“ModernExtension dancers have a passion for creating, and we enjoy the process of going into the studio and not just learning choreography but exploring and questioning and learning,” Cowan said.
The dance group sets itself apart from others on campus by bringing in guest choreographers as well as a faculty adviser. They also offer weekly technique classes.
Heather Tatreau has been the ModernExtension adviser for the last two years. As a former ModernExtension dancer, Tatreau has seen the group evolve over the years.
She said having an adviser allows the dancers to receive professional experience.
“I’m there to help guide them and artistically give them some advice when they’re ready for choreography. I can also push them technically by giving them challenging classes,” Tatreau said.
“During production time, we’re also able to do more than other groups because they (Modern Extension dancers) have someone to pick up the pieces when things aren’t working very well.”
Cowan said attending a University that does not offer a dance major or minor makes it hard for dancers to learn as much about dance as they would like, but having a professional dancer as an adviser helps fill the gap.
“What I love about ModernExtension is that the adviser has always taught us the importance of knowing the history of dance, and knowing your background is really important,” Cowan said.
While this weekend’s performance will be the last one of the school year for ModernExtension, Tatreau hopes it will help raise awareness of the dance community at UNC.
“I think it’s going to be a really good show, there’s going to be a lot of variety to the types of pieces that were created this year," she said. "There’s something for everyone. It should be fun.”
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