HCC students to showcase their dances



When Debbie Meyers was asked to rewrite the dance performance curriculum at Howard Community College last year, she knew it was her chance to raise the bar.

Meyers, who taught dance for 10 years at Towson University, joined HCC's dance faculty in 2002 as a teacher and became director in 2004. Using her experience at Towson, Meyers looked to elevate HCC's dance program by comparing it to those at four-year schools.

"I developed our [program] so that our students could transfer their courses, and in essence their first two years at Howard would closely resemble their first two years at a four-year school," Meyers said.

As part of the new curriculum, Meyers added dance composition, a course designed to teach students choreography. The college started offering the course this semester.

Meyers said she thought learning composition was important for students because she has noticed choreography becoming what she calls "MTV-like," depending too much on lyrics to tell a dancer how to move.

"The sole purpose of dance should not be to reflect the lyrics in the song," Meyers said. "Dance is an art form. ... If you have crafted a fine choreography, that should be evident in the movement and the audience wouldn't have to depend on the lyrics to find out what it is you're trying to express."

Two students are taking Meyers' course this semester. They will showcase their dances for the first time tomorrow night and Sunday afternoon as part of the college's Spring Student Fine Arts Celebration. Dance composition student Ann Greyson, 37, decided to choreograph a solo jazz and musical theater piece. She will dance the role of Victoria in the Jellicle Ball scene of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats, a favorite of hers.

Greyson, of Columbia, will use the music from the show, but alter the costume. She will be a Siamese cat, her favorite.

"I feel like I want to present the show and also present my style," Greyson said.

Meyers' other student, Heather Dixon, 20, decided to choreograph a solo tap dance to "I Need a Hero," a song from Shrek 2.

"I'm a little nervous," said Dixon, 20, of Beltsville. "I haven't really choreographed anything on my own before. It's my first time putting myself out there."

Dixon said she is still finding her niche in choreography.

"I guess I just do what feels right," she said.

Greyson and Dixon choreographed a modern dance duet that they will perform this weekend. Their piece is inspired by Cross, a poem by Langston Hughes.

Through their dance composition class, the students learned how to convey the emotion in the poem through movement.

Greyson said that when she read Hughes' poem about growing up as a biracial child, she felt the two main emotions expressed in the poem were acceptance and forgiveness. The challenge was to show those emotions in a dance.

"I kind of like those little challenges," Greyson said. "You have to be more physical instead of vocal."

Dixon added that it is important to keep the audience in mind, too.

"As a dancer or any kind of performer, you like to have people watching you," Dixon said. "You want to do stuff you like and [that] stays to the theme of what you're trying to convey. And at the same time, you don't want your audience to be yawning."

Dixon and Greyson's three pieces are among 17 ballet, modern, tap and jazz dances that will be performed this weekend.

Dance performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and 3 p.m. Sunday in Smith Theatre, Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Tickets are $5. Information: 410-772-4800.

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