Since its creation in 2010, Ole Miss Student Dance has been almost entirely student-led and -run. With the exception of a faculty adviser to help create and maintain a budget, this modern dance company was created by and for students.
“Everything from choreography, to the show, to lights…,” said artistic director, Victoria Burrow. “It’s interesting, because we make it all ourselves.”
Members of the OMSD board carry out the organization’s logistics and planning. Board members include Artistic Director Victoria Burrow, Assistant Artistic Directors Courtney Boreserine and Catherine Klocke, Production Manager Nicole Fava, Assistant Production Manager Madeleine Bradley, Treasurer Dominique Dairion and Outreach Chair Ladarius Lee.
Over the past few years as leadership members shifted, so have the OMSD’s goals. Burrow wants the organization to expand community involvement.
“Our main mission is to just spread dance to as many people as we can,” she said,” and to get as many people involved, and to feel comfortable, and to not be afraid to dance.”
OMSD choreographer and dancer, Hannah Corson, supports Burrow. “We want to be really inclusive, from people involved in everything, to the people who aren’t involved in anything else on campus,” she said. “Everyone should get a chance to be in this organization.”
Community classes are now being offered. These are dance classes open to all students and faculty currently enrolled at the University of Mississippi on Tuesday evenings from 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Turner Center dance studio.
Each week, a different OMSD choreographer will teach a short combination dance of a different style, ranging from contemporary to jazz to hip-hop.
“We are a student-run dance company that tries to incorporate all kinds of different styles… of dance, so whomever wants to dance on the Ole Miss campus has an outlet and an opportunity to do so,” said Corson.
The group is also trying to expand reach through social media. There is an Ole Miss Student Dance Facebook page and an Instagram page @olemiss.studentdance that posts videos from the community classes to generate more interest. The pages also posts event updates and the week’s class style.
Both methods have been effective. Within the past two years, interest has spiked, and turnout numbers for fall concert auditions have nearly doubled. Corson hopes awareness for the organization and for the arts will continue to grow.
“I want more people to come to the show, not because they have to or just for extra credit or something, but because they want to learn more about this art that is so therapeutic and expressive and intriguing,” she said.
The OMSD fall concert will be held Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 with showings at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2.
Burrow said they are trying to tell the public so people will come and see what they have been working on all semester, and the dancers, choreographers, and designers will be recognized for their efforts.
While the fall show might mark the end of OMSD’s fall semester activities, in spring, many OMSD choreographers and dancers participate in Mississippi the Dance Company. Burrow said it’s too difficult to maintain both organizations simultaneously, so OMSD is more active in fall and focuses more on community classes in spring.
In an attempt to get students involved in OMSD and more artistic opportunities, summer applications are sent out searching for new choreographers for fall. Applicants must be registered students at UM who have spent at least one season with the organization prior to applying.
Corson said being a choreographer has been a great learning experience because you get to work with people who have danced their whole lives and people who just started dancing in college.
“It’s been really interesting to see how to work with all these different people to create one cohesive piece,” she said.
Students involved and who run the organization aren’t searching for recognition, but for a creative outlet to express themselves through dance.