‘Celebrate the human spirit’ through dance

Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre will present its annual spring concert Jan. 20 to Jan. 23 in Lee Hall Auditorium.

The theme for this year’s concert is “Celebrating the Human Spirit.”

For more than 40 years, Orchesis has been performing throughout Tallahassee and other cities in the state.

Members of Orchesis said their mission is to entertain, enrich and inspire the Tallahassee community through art and cultural expression.

According to Beverly Barber, the former artistic director of Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre, early faculty members such as Anita P. Stewart, Letitia Williams and Sophia Steele made dance more than a hobby for students at the University.

Through their guidance, hard work and motivation, dance became a class and activity at FAMU for students who had an interest in the performing arts.

Barber said, upon the suggestion of Marolyn W. Smith, a retired faculty member of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the group underwent a name change in 1963 from The Modern Dance Club to The Orchesis Club.

Orchesis consists of students, a variety of dancers and musicians who work to stage impressive performances.

Members of Orchesis also provide teaching technique sessions and choreography for students grade K thru 12 and other dance troupes and clubs.

“We are mentors for all ages and we especially enjoy working with children,” said Gaynell Sherrod, the group’s director.

Enjoying her new position as director, Sherrod said she has a vision for Orchesis dancers.

“I want the members of Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre to grow artistically and technically,” she said.

“This will allow them to build skills that are impeccable to other career options.”

Giltrecia Head, 23, a senior architecture student and president of Orchesis, said being a part of the dance troupe has been beneficial to her in many ways.

“When I intertwine architecture and dance, I become more creative, and have interesting outcomes in dance movement and architectural design,” she said. “Dance is a stress reliever. It’s fun and pure exercise.”

Since its inception, Orchesis has stayed on the move, providing dance services for the community, learning new dance skills and preparing for its annual concerts.

Every concert showcases each dancer’s creative potential, group choreography and feature routines.

“Expect to see feature dancers, a unique flavor and creativity in every performance,” said Charles Burney, 20, an architecture student from Philadelphia.”Each dancer puts their heart and soul into every routine.”

General admission for the event is $10 for non-FAMU students and $5 for senior citizens. FAMU students get in free with a valid Rattler ID. For more information, call 599-8678.

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Contact Angela Green at angelaajamaica@aol.com.