One of the most lively courses at GMU is Dance Appreciation. Students come from all over the globe, bring a wealth of knowledge about dance forms and cultural differences, and can attend shows at the Center for the Arts for free. In one semester, a curiosity about dance can be nurtured and developed, and then the emails come in when the class is over about shows and events that sustain their appreciation of this art-form. Yesterday I received a message from an Appreciation student I taught in the fall of 2009, Sara Masouleh, about The Kennedy Center performance of the Presidential Scholars. Sara knew that Ida Saki would be performing; Ida is the dancer who turned down the invitation to compete on So You Think You Can Dance in order to go to college and join a professional company. Here is what Sara wrote: “All of the students obviously have dedicated a good part of their lives to perfecting their respective art. The musicians and dancers particularly stood out to me. The musicians all seemed so moved by their music and this depth I think really helped make for a more effective performance. The music also allowed the dancing to have much more impact.
There was also some incredible visual arts (via film) incorporated into many of the pieces which also made the performances that much more moving. There was a male cellist who was phenomenal. He blew me away. He performed as part of the music for many of the dance pieces and in my opinion really sealed the deal for the performances. The chemistry among the dancers was incredible, especially considering how they were from all over the country so I'm not sure how long they even had to prepare the choreography together. One performance was entitled ‘Improvisation’ so I was assuming that meant they would be putting choreography together on the spot. But after watching the piece, I am a little skeptical because it was incredible, there was so much harmony between the dancers!! I haven't been to too many dance performances so I don't have much basis for comparison but these kids were truly a gifted bunch. The movement combined with the music made for powerful performances that left me walking out of there SO impressed.”