Nov 102011
Authors: Shelby Taylor-Thorn

“To learn, to grow, to teach,” is CSU dance alumni Grady Saopes’s objective as he returns to the University Center for the Arts stage tonight.

Soapes has choreographed the piece “For Now…” which he, among fellow alumni and current CSU students, will be performing at the Fall Dance Concert this weekend at the UCA. “For Now…” is a reflection of building a home base for alumni to return to.

“It mirrors being able to come back to CSU,” Soapes said.

Although he has danced for 21 years, Soapes, 25, found his passion for choreography during his college studies.

“I discovered choreography at CSU,” Soapes said. “The department was so great at presenting opportunities to students. The connections that I made here are still following through in my career. I think that’s the whole point of being an alumnus and staying connected to the university: to help students succeed and to be a mentor.”

Soapes currently dances with a professional company. However, he rarely gets the opportunity to step out of his role as a performer and choreograph. He said he enjoys coming back and working with students to create something original.

“(The piece is) a way for alumni to give back to the dance program,” CSU dance program director Jane Slusarski-Harris said. “Conversely, we are placing a unique emphasis on building and connecting with our alums.”

Shannon McGee, a junior dance major, who admits she feels most like herself while in the studio rehearsing, is one of the current CSU students who will not only perform in the showcase, but will show one of her choreographed pieces as well.

“Working with CSU dance alum was a great experience for every dancer involved in the program,” McGee said. “It is great learning about what they are doing now in the dance world and seeking advice from them about what to expect once we graduate.”

The performances will showcase different styles of dance, mixing contemporary and classical. Special guest artists and designers will also be featured at the event.

Artist Julie Ballard from Chicago’s Columbia College has been working with the dancers and choreographers as a lighting designer for the concert.

“It has been a real treat having her here and a great learning experience for me as a choreographer to collaborate with her,” McGee said.

Other special guests include well-known contemporary choreographer Andrew Skeels, as well as retired ballerina Sayaka Karasugi-Ruggles, who is now pursuing a degree in performing arts at CSU.

“It has always been one of my goals to receive a university diploma,” Karasugi-Ruggles said. “I am excited to dance with the other students and to make a contribution to the concert.”

The showcase will also feature excerpts from classic pieces, such as “Don Quixote” and “Night Songs,” among the original performances put together by CSU students and dance alumni.
“It’s nice to see the next generation of dancers,” Soapes said. “They’re amazing.”

Collegian writer Shelby Taylor-Thorn can be reached at

What: Fall Dance Concert

Where: The University Dance Theatre at the University Center for the Arts

When: Tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
More info:

Cost: $11 for CSU students, $9 for youth ages 2 to 17 and $18 for adults

 Posted by at 5:55 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.