Published on February 1, 2024 by Anne Madison Adcock  
2023 24 Dance

Samford University’s Dance Company has been diligently preparing since September for the annual Michael J. and Mary Anne Freeman Theatre and Dance Series dance concert, Voices. This highly anticipated production features 14 enthralling dance pieces choreographed by 10 guest choreographers from across the country, alongside Samford dance faculty. The performance will be held Feb. 8-11 at Harrison Theatre and will showcase a variety of styles, from classical ballet on pointe to street jazz, contemporary dance and musical theatre. This year, the 24 talented student dancers collaborated with students from the School of the Arts Commercial Music Program.

Dance, similar to singing, acting and writing, is a form of expression that transcends the confines of language. Just like singers use lyrics and vocals to communicate, dancers express thoughts and emotions through movement.

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“To me, dance allows a free feeling of letting go through expression and quality of movement,” said Hanna Carlton, sophomore in the Samford Dance Company and an elementary education major. “When I dance, I let go of all worry that is overtaking my thoughts, and I find calmness in my movement. It brings me happiness and helps me express myself when my words can’t. Even in ballet when it’s more precise, I still feel the happiness and the free feeling in my pointe shoes, even if I mess up. Dance is something that has always been constant in my life; it’s shaped me to the person I am now, and I’m eternally grateful of this opportunity.”

Voices combines beautiful choreography with songs, spoken word, and other soundscapes, while adhering to a central theme: the concept of expressing one's voice. The audience not only experiences inspiring and impressive performances, but also gains insights into the dancers' voices, opinions, and personalities.

Commercial music students Emerie Ediger, Kacie Bell and Olivia Webber created a three-movement song representing the individual testimonies of each of the dancers. Each movement in the song encapsulates the journey of personal faith and resonates with their own testimonies, while combining them into a storyline of questioning, discovering and exploring faith, and the freedom that comes with walking with God. These movements are interconnected through common pedal tones and adjacent keys, bringing a constant and steady progression throughout the entirety of the piece.

Kacie Bell and Emerie Ediger music students

Commercial music students, Kacie Bell and Emerie Ediger.

We each have a different writing style, but we found that these puzzle pieces locked together to craft a story that was bigger than our individual experiences,” said Ediger. “All of this culminates in the hymn, Because He Lives, which perfectly captures the hopeful, never-ending conclusion that is walking in faith. It was a new challenge to portray the emotions of the dancers’ movements through lyricism and musical expression. Performing live with the dance company is a new level of collaboration that I’m excited to experience! I’m looking forward to going on a journey with the audience and communicating how this story can transcend artistic mediums.”

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Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.