Orchesis seeks new dance genres

The rhythmic sounds of hard-bottomed shoes echoed in the hallway of the Gaither Gym Complex as one of Florida A&M University’s oldest dance organizations opened its doors to hip-hop dance and step teams in an effort to add flare to its spring concert.

“Step and hip-hop teams are becoming more prevalent on college campuses around the country,” said Dr. Gaynell Sherrod. Sherrod is the associate professor of dance studies and serves as the Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director.

Dr. Gaynell Sherrod is associate professor of dance studies and artistic director of Orchesis Dance Theatre. Under Sherrod’s leadership, the organization has held three spring concerts. This year, they are looking to bring something different to their audience.

“Dance in a New Groove” is this year’s theme, and Orchesis plans to highlight the 20-member company, but it will feature pieces of work from two hip-hop dance and step teams.

Danielle Gallman, a 23-year-old Florida State University music therapy student from Charlotte, N.C., has been a member of Orchesis for three years. She joined because of the dance group’s great reputation.

“I have friends who danced for Orchesis, and they said it was a great learning opportunity,” Gallman said.

In the Tallahassee community, the 65-year-old dance team is known for its unique and soulful performances. Orchesis incorporates ballet, contemporary dance and traditional African dance to create an eclectic and distinct style.

“We are very inclusive of a lot of different styles,” said Gallman.

Sherrod, a classically trained dancer, wanted to offer step teams and hip-hop dance organizations a “concert dance format” to perform in.

“Step and hip-hop dance is exciting and more easily accessible than dance groups with more formal training,” said Sherrod.

One hand-picked team by Sherrod to perform at the spring concert is Attack Dance Crew. Attack is a nine-month-old hip-hop dance team from Tallahassee Community College. Brandon Johnson, the group’s founder and artistic director, decided audition because of Orchesis’ credibility.

“We wanted to reach out to other organizations in order to reach a high level,” said Johnson.

He said Attack has worked hard to make a name for itself because it is a newer group.

“People gave us a chance because we came from other dance organizations,” said Johnson.

During tryouts, Sherrod was looking for a team “that has a distinctive voice and creativity.

“I really like Attack because they are very organized and committed, and they’re not even a year old,” she said.

Sherrod wants the show’s audience to see the diversity that the Tallahassee dance community has to offer. According to Sherrod, dance is evolving, and she wants them to see the innovation that happening. Most of all, she wants to bring attention to the progress that Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre has made.

“The show will help show people that Orchesis is just as evolving and contemporary as other dance teams,” said Sherrod.

Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre’s spring concert, “Dance in a New Groove,” will be held on Friday, January 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Hall Auditorium. A matinee showing will be held on Saturday, January 29, at 3:00 p.m.