For most University of Mississippi students, the last weekend before exam week is filled with library visits, late night study sessions, endless hours reviewing flashcards, and typing up final papers in order to stay ahead during finals week.
But not for students of Ole Miss Student Dance. These students fill their last weekend before the break with dance moves, rehearsals, costumes, and spotlights.
Student dancers enrolled in various majors grace the stage to do what they do best, perform. Many of them are a part of the company so that they can use dance as an outlet from work, class, and everyday college life.
OMSD is a student-run dance company that allows dancers of all skill levels to participate in weekly community dance classes. Students who are part of the company also produce an annual concert, normally within the last few weekends before winter break.
This year, OMSD presented their concert “Pursuit of Origin” at Fulton Chapel. The entire show consisted of 10 original dances and was performed four different times for students, faculty, friends, family and alumni. Tickets were sold beforehand by OMSD members and at the door before the event.
Sophomore nursing major Madeleine Bradley has been dancing for as long as she can remember.
“As soon as I was potty trained, my mom put me in tights,” she said. “I’ve been dancing ever since. This is my first year being part of OMSD, and I love it.”
Bradley performed in two of the 10 pieces, Classical Meltdown and Troubled Waters, but preferred the later. She loved getting to work with all of the members of the company, and didn’t even mind having to cram dance rehearsal into her study hours.
“The whole week before the show, we practiced for a max of six hours a day,” Bradley said. “It was dead week for classes, and everyone was sitting on the floor with all of their books studying, and then [the dancers] would have to run on stage to rehearse. It was stressful, exciting and so much fun.”
Samantha Earls, a freshman exercise science major, accompanied Bradley on stage in Classical Meltdown, a piece she dubbed as her favorite. Earls has just restarted dancing after healing from an injury, and has regained her love for dance through OMSD.
“I wasn’t able to dance my senior year in high school because of a foot injury,” said Earls. “As soon as my foot healed, I knew I wanted to dance again, so I tried out for OMSD. It has been such a huge part of my freshman year so far, and I have really enjoyed getting to learn from and dance with fellow students here at Ole Miss.
Meredith Dillon, an OMSD veteran and senior psychology major, has been part of the company since her freshman year. The last three years, she danced as a company member, but this year, she was given the opportunity to choreograph a dance of her own.
“I started off as a theatre major my freshman year and wasn’t cast in a show, but still wanted to perform,” Dillon said. I heard about the student dance company and immediately tried out. After dancing for three years, I was asked to choreograph and had so much fun constructing a fun, goofy tap piece.”
The show predominately showcased more serious, contemporary pieces, but Dillon felt like adding a lighter, tap piece would be a nice touch. Her piece, The Heist, featured five dancers, including herself. With a lighthearted theme of cops and robbers, and a fun song Dillon described as an “80s banger,” the dance did not disappoint.
Alex Mitchell, a sophomore political science major and Meredith’s partner in crime, also performed in the original tap piece.
“In high school, I always did more rhythm tap, so it was really fun to be apart of a show piece,” Mitchell said. “There is such a fun story line behind the dance, and I really feel like the audience is able to get into it.”
“Pursuit of Origin” and OMSD allowed student dancers to take the stage again. It contained pieces of all different lengths, depths, and varieties, and showcased the hidden talents of some of Ole Miss’ finest dancers.
“While this is my last year to be apart of OMSD, I am grateful for all of the friendships and memories it has brought me,” said Dillon. “I hope that OMSD continues to put students on stage and let them perform. Dance doesn’t have to be your life; it just has to be fun.”