Profile: the Lawrenceville School Dance Collective

Director of Dance Derrick Wilder has been the driving force of the Dance Program since its conception 20 years ago. This year, Wilder debuted a new addition to the School’s vibrant dance culture: the Lawrenceville School Dance Collective (LSDC).

Director of Dance Derrick Wilder has been the driving force of the Dance Program since its conception 20 years ago. This year, Wilder debuted a new addition to the School’s vibrant dance culture: the Lawrenceville School Dance Collective (LSDC).

The LSDC is a new dance company meant to be a space for highly trained dancers to hone their craft. Wilder said, “LSDC was needed to fill the void for [the] high-skilled dancer here at Lawrenceville. We have that for our singers in Lawrentians, and we have that for our musicians in Collegium.” It was the dancers themselves that inspired the creation of LSDC. Wilder explained, “It has come about simply because the skill level of the dancers has risen over the years.”

Without a dance program specifically catered to elite dancers, Wilder realized that these dancers were, at times, taking the spotlight from the rest of the dance community in performances meant to showcase the talents of all levels of dance, such as the Spring Dance Concert (SDC). Wilder said, “[the inspiration for LSDC] was really looking at where SDC has come [to]… Because the number of highly-skilled dancers has grown, we’ve almost pushed the community out [of SDC].” SDC from its inception was meant to be a chance for the Lawrenceville community to get involved in dance regardless of skill level, but in recent years, Wilder saw it becoming more and more about the more highly-trained dancers. In order to accommodate for the widening spectrum of dancers at Lawrenceville, Wilder expanded the dance program.

Wilder envisions LSDC becoming more than just a resource for the highly-skilled dancers at School, but a resource for the community within Lawrenceville. By creating a dance collective run by a professional such as himself, Wilder hopes to provide a model of ideal structure for the student-run dance organizations. Wilder stated that the purpose of “LSDC is for Nachale and [the] Lawrenceville Dance Team to have a model so they can see what it takes to put together a company.” Wilder also wants LSDC to be present in the Lawrenceville community and beyond the gates of the school. Wilder said, “This year we are trying to do one preformance outside of school… and lecture demonstrations for local schools.” This is an effort to both showcase the dance talent at Lawrenceville to the community outside of the School, but also to bring high quality dance to those who don’t have exposure to it.

By increasing the number of performances, LSDC will also provide valuable experience for the dancers. It can often be difficult to find time in a busy Lawrenceville schedule to practice and rehearse at the level required for elite training. Elaborating on this struggle, LSDC member Evelyn Dugan ’21 said, “You can warm up the voice in ten minutes, whereas the body you need an hour.” The dancers take classes twice on Wednesday, and members of LSDC take on another hour of rehearsal afterwards for three nights a week; although Wilder understands the limited time that Lawrentians have so he allows his LSDC dancers to skip their Thursday modern class. This way the dancers can use their earlier classes to warm up their bodies, so they can get straight to dancing during LSDC rehearsal. The dancers are excited for this opportunity to challenge themselves. Yee Xin Cher ’22 said, “At home I just did a lot of ballet, I never had a chance to branch out to different dance styles, so I’m excited to try out new styles.” Many dancers train intensively only in one style of dance at home, but LSDC offers the opportunity for top notch technical training in newer styles as well. Dance, often viewed by the School as just a sport, is an art that gets very few chances to express itself to the larger community, but LSDC will change that for the elite dancers at Lawrenceville.

The Lawrenceville community can expect a myriad of dance performances from LSDC this year. Wilder is planning a Tuesday Dance Showcase to take place during lunch on Tuesdays, similar to Midday Music. The first Tuesday Dance event will be on October 29 at 12:30 P.M. There will also be full evening recitals to compliment the shorter Tuesday Dance Showcase. The first one will take place November 9 at 7:30 P.M., and the second on January 11 at 7:30 P.M. The Lawrenceville community is encouraged to come out, support their peers, explore all that dance has to offer!

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