Spring 2023 Dance Fusion showcases talent

Mallory Kaul

Music and movement came together in a spectacular show for the Visual and Performing Arts Spring 2023 Dance Fusion. A beautiful array of music accompanied expressive dances, each choreographed to tell a specific story. 

Directed by Starla Gatson, the dances reached a broad range of themes, from a meaningful story about mental health challenges to a fun and flashy Disney Channel tribute. 

ULM’s Dance Repertory Ensemble members Beth Brakeman, Sarah Riley Broadway, Kate Cole, Ashja Mitchell and Jada Owens utilized both dancing and acting skills to share their emotions with the audience. 

Both director and dancers used a variety of elements that could set the scene perfectly without needing a word to be spoken. 

The sparse stage needed only elements of theatrical lighting to accompany the music, though dancers used minimal props to create a fresh and exciting experience. 

Costumes changed between songs, with the colors and styles becoming a tool to set the mood of the performance, even before the music began. 

One of the more emotional dances to the song “I Can’t Breathe” by Vancouver Sleep Clinic complemented dark costumes and a shadowy stage. One spotlight created a dramatic contrast between the dancers. 

The expressions and movements suggested a dance about feeling overwhelmed, anxious and needing to be saved. 

Conversely, nostalgic songs from Disney Channel movies such as “The Cheetah Girls 2,” “Teen Beach Movie” and “Camp Rock” accompanied fun and fast-paced dances. 

Each rendition harkened back to the classic Disney dance sequences but was carefully restaged by both director and ensemble.

With so much variety, education major Tia Smith found it nearly impossible to pick a favorite dance sequence. 

“I have to say that I loved the ‘Laissez les bon temps rouler’ section,” Smith said. “Each dancer looked like they were having so much fun onstage.”

The chemistry between the dancers was palpable, even beyond the dances that required it. A connection could be felt through each performance, which amplified the experience of the audience. 

Kate Cole, a VAPA dancer who will be graduating this year, was thrilled with the outcome of the concert but felt bittersweet knowing that this was her last. 

“I was sad at the beginning because I knew this was my last Fusion,” Cole said. “But when I noticed the crowd radiating energy from the first song, that sadness went away.”

Cole also said that she loved performing with some of the most incredible dancers ULM has to offer, even if it was for the last time.

Cade Robinson, an English major, loved the different types of dances and music that were performed. 

“The choreography was spectacular,” Robinson said. “It was like seeing a whole new world of expression.”