'Dancing Never Felt So Good': Sumter Civic Dance Company presents 20th contemporary dance concert

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 3/10/19

For the 20th year, the Sumter Civic Dance Company presents its contemporary dance concert. The title of the March 15 and 16 performances is "Dancing Never Felt So Good," and company director Andrea Freed-Levenson said that's true for the audience as …

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'Dancing Never Felt So Good': Sumter Civic Dance Company presents 20th contemporary dance concert

Posted

For the 20th year, the Sumter Civic Dance Company presents its contemporary dance concert. The title of the March 15 and 16 performances is "Dancing Never Felt So Good," and company director Andrea Freed-Levenson said that's true for the audience as well as the dancers.

"This concert is special because it shows the versatility of the company," she said. "We have Broadway, jazz, hip hop, swing, several different styles of lyrical and contemporary and ballet."

It's also traditionally the concert when the company recognizes its graduating seniors. Nicole Dixon, Mara Pierce and Emily Simmons will not only be dancing, but the three have also collaborated on the choreography. Appropriately, they will be dancing to "I'll Always Remember You" by Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus).

"Seniors are required to work together on a group piece for this concert," Freed-Levenson said.

The company will also be dancing the choreography of Freed-Levenson, Erin Levenson Harms, Andrea Govier and Toni McCray. While Freed-Levenson has produced most of the choreography, Harms has choreographed two pieces for the Sumter Civic Dance Company as well as two for the Apprentice Company. McCray has choreographed a hip hop piece to 24K's "Superfly," and Govier has choreographed four pieces, three for the company and one for special invited guests, the Freed School Teen Company. She also choreographed a piece for the Freed School Gymnastics team and collaborated on the choreography to Pink's "A Million Dreams," which she will dance with Harms.

Freed-Levenson said the company's choreographers have a "common thread. Our choreography is driven by the music and not the other way around. A lot of choreographers come up with the movements first, then try to find the music to fit it."

The company's choreographers are almost always looking for music, she said. "If we're listening to music, we're working.

"My choreography is very literal, and Erin's is more abstract."

A special "comedy" dance that Freed-Levenson thinks will be a crowd pleaser will feature Don Phillips dancing en pointe, unusual for a male dancer. "It's a very quirky piece," she said. She has also created a "Riverdance" for the concert.

"People love Riverdance," she said, "and I like the challenge of keeping it fresh. I did my first Riverdance in 1998."

Harms, who dances with the company, said she prefers choreography to dance, but that Govier "is getting back more into dancing. She's recommitting herself" and is featured in several pieces.

Both Freed-Levenson and Harms said contemporary dance is a favorite of the company and that it continues to grow in popularity, although "jazz is coming back."

"More young people want to dance, Harms said, "probably because of all the (dance) TV shows and social media."

Freed-Levenson said preparing for the contemporary concert is "labor intensive, because the company has to learn so many dance styles. They rehearse at least nine hours a week. Within contemporary, there are so many different styles.

"The challenge from my point of view is keeping it fresh and not getting away from the basic core of dance. That's what makes dance interesting - it stays fresh."

David Shoemaker is technical director for the contemporary dance performances, and Sondra Tidwell is stage manager.

The Sumter Civic Dance Company presents "Dancing Never Felt So Good" at 7 p.m. Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16, at Patriot Hall, 135 Haynsworth St. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. For advance tickets and information, call (803) 773-2847 or stop by Freed School of Performing Arts, 527 N. Guignard Drive.