Students take the stage for a night of dance at ARDT

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One moment, a spin and a twist of the body captures the crowd, while the next brings a flurry of student
dancers to the stage. With the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, you never know what’s coming next.

The ARDT is a dance company at The University of Alabama designed to prepare students for competitions
on larger stages both nationally and internationally. Performances are spread across a variety of genres of
dance, from ballet to more contemporary pieces.

“We’ve always done a variety of work to ensure the student is being trained in a variety of techniques and
skills,” said Cornelius Carter, the director of the University’s dance program. “But it’s very different from a
recital, it’s not a recital. What we do is a concert work that’s really veered towards professional work that
you would see in New York.”

Emma Cooper, a sophomore majoring in dance and public relations, specializes in ballet. She has been a
member of ARDT since her freshman year, with each year letting her branch out with new performances.

“ARDT is really fun because we’re doing a lot of different things, so I’m kind of getting out of the ballet
background and going into contemporary and modern and jazz and stuff like that,” Cooper said.

ARDT is put on every semester, with students often returning for a new role. Cooper herself was a part of
the theater last semester, performing ballet pieces such as Rita Snyder’s “Pequita.”
This year, Cooper is in two dances –– a contemporary lyrical piece and a contemporary ballet piece. “The
Trainer,” the ballet piece, is centered on circus animals and how the trainer works with them.

Performing alongside Cooper is Bobby McClure, a senior majoring in dance and philosophy. McClure plays
both the trainer role and the lion within the piece.

“Between ARDT and Dance Alabama, a lot of different stories are asked of us to tell,“ McClure said. “…some
of those stories are things I may not have ever had another chance to practice, like, with [The Trainer] I’m
playing the part of a lion. That’s not necessarily something that just in everyday dancing, I’m like ‘oh, let me
try the part of a lion,’ but it’s really neat to try and make my body move like an animal and yet still portray
the image of a dancer on stage.”

Along with “The Trainer,” McClure is also a part of an excerpt from “The Nutcracker” and an improv-based
structured dance. The improv piece also features Grace Kurosaka, a senior majoring in dance and biology.

“I think that the biggest change will definitely be the improv piece because structurally, we go to the same
places and we have a general movement quality, but it will be different every single night,“ Kurosaka said.
“The music is the same as well, but what our choices and decisions that we make on the stage will always be
different every night.”

The stage changes drastically with each piece. In previous years, one dance may center on lovers doing a
romantic dance, while the next may be set in a fight scene with a lighting change and props laid out to set
the mood.

“Part of that is exactly what we aim for, is to take the students from this classical ballet and all of a sudden
they’re doing a piece where they could be in a box designed like a house or they could go to a piece where
they’re underwater,“ Carter said. “We’re challenging them and the audience.“

ARDT’s first showing at Morgan Auditorium was last night, but there will be three additional showings on
Oct. 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and a final showing on Oct. 14 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general
admission and $14 for students and can be bought at the box office or at theatre.ua.edu.