Dance Alabama! feeds student dancers’ passions

Dance has always been at the center of Natalie Brown’s life. She came to college and decided to major in
telecommunication and film, but thanks to Dance Alabama, she still had an outlet to dance.

“Dance is so important to me and one of the biggest parts of my life and it’s so important to have this group
of people to participate in that,” said Brown, a junior. “Dance Alabama! is the biggest part of my college
experience. Dance Alabama! is my family for sure.”

Dance Alabama! is a student-run organization aimed at giving students an opportunity to dance outside the
structure of the dance major or other academics, and also share dance with the community.

Students perform a concert each semester, in addition to sometimes sharing performances with the
community. This semester they will bring a performance to Capstone Village to share with the residents.

Brown, the secretary of Dance Alabama!, is performing in three dances in this week’s performance, and has
performed in the show every semester since coming to the University. She is also at the head of another
Dance Alabama enterprise, the Dance Alabama! Film Festival, which is tentatively set to be held in January.
Brown is just one of many students who have found a home at Dance Alabama! and watched the
organization grow and serve both students and the community.

Alexandra Mannings, a junior majoring in physics and dance, is the vice president of Dance Alabama!, in
addition to her roles as a dancer and choreographer. Each semester the process of putting together the
show begins with about 40 dances, and from that number dance faculty and professors give feedback,
suggest changes and make cuts. Mannings’ dance about insomnia and sleeplessness, in which she is both
choreographer and dancer, is one of 25 dances to make the final cut in this week’s show.

“The concept of it started with the feeling of insomnia,” Mannings said. “It was this feeling of being trapped
in your body. I wanted to make a dance about that. I wanted to shock the audience.”
This dance is just one among a wide array of pieces in the show. Members of Dance Alabama!, some of
whom are dance majors and others are not, will bring a mix of styles to stage – jazz, tap, ballet and
contemporary, among others. Mannings said she would like to choreograph in the future, so Dance
Alabama! gives her an outlet to try new styles during her college years.

“It gives me a chance to really explore [choreography] and really build up a resume of pieces and
choreography that have been on stage and performed,” Mannings said.
While Dance Alabama! serves as a venue for dancers to gain experience and build their brands, it is also
about something more than that.

“Besides the professional part of it it really gave me a base when I first came here of people who really
enjoyed what I enjoy,” Mannings said. “So it’s a really great environment in general, personally and
professionally.”
Alexia Acebo, a junior majoring in dance and psychology on the pre-physical therapy track and treasurer of
Dance Alabama!, has also been involved in the organization since freshman year and said she enjoys the
refreshing outlet it has given her during her time here.
“I have met my best friends through this organization, I’d say,” Acebo said. “It has a huge place in my heart
because a lot of people get an opportunity to do something we love even if they don’t want to do it in their
profession. Whatever their situation they are able to audition and be a part of it.”

Dance Alabama! has given Acebo not only community and enjoyment, but also structure and experience.
“It teaches you to hold the responsibility for holding rehearsals and having choreography prepared and
putting yourself out there,” Acebo said. “I came from a composition studio and did a lot of performances
and had a lot of focus on entertainment and why we dance, and I feel like it can get lost in this day and age.
Sometimes we forget to have fun.”

Dance Alabama! is, at its heart, a place where people who love dance can come together to create and share
the art they hold so dear. While they all share dance in common, this group of students is diverse and
spread out across different areas of campus. For Brown, it has helped to define her college experience.

“You get to meet a lot of like-minded artists and you get to be a part of a lot of really talented people’s
artistic visions,” Brown said. “Every single person in Dance Alabama! knows and loves me and supports me.
Everyone is friends and wants to see everyone succeed, so I’m so glad I chose this university for that
reason.”