Front Porch Dancers lend expertise to young Delta dancers
by Courtney Warren
Feb 28, 2014 | 1615 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The dance composition class at Delta Arts Alliances warms up before class. This class will be working with the Jackson-based dance company Front Porch Dance.
The dance composition class at Delta Arts Alliances warms up before class. This class will be working with the Jackson-based dance company Front Porch Dance.
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On March 8 shoes will be tied and toes will be pointed as Front Porch Dance, a Jackson-based contemporary dance company, presents an evening of "Mississippi Stories in Motion."

According to a press release by the company, this performance will "display original choreography that aims to awaken and transform the audience's awareness of the unique images, landscapes, and stories of Mississippi."

The Delta Arts Alliance and the Mississippi Arts Commission sponsor the event.

Performers include Krista Bower, Lynn Forney, Rachael Inman, Kellis McSparrin, Erin Schiewe Rockwell, Mia Whitehead, Stefanie Wright.

There will be an open technical rehearsal with moderated Q and A from 3-4:30 p.m. at Jobe Hall at Delta State University and at 6:30 p.m. Front Porch Dance will perform.

Admission is free but donations to the Delta Arts Alliance are appreciated.

The DAA dancers will be able to learn from this company on a one-on-one level and Rori Herbison, executive director, said they are feeling every emotion in the book.

"I think it's a gamut of emotion — excited, proud, nervous, anxious. This is a new territory for them and I think this group is so meticulous in their work and their approach, that the unknown is more daunting. They're going to be doing great. I am so happy for them and proud of them," she explained.

Herbison believes meeting these dancers and watching them perform will benefit the DAA dancers in a huge way.

"The benefit, I think, runs very deep. On the surface, we can certainly look at the situation and say these dancers will learn new technical skills — skills that will mightily advance their dancing career; but I think more important is the experience. These dancers will always have this experience to draw confidence from. This is a life experience that speaks to overcoming fears, working hard, trying new things. They will be able to pull from this experience later in life and look to it for strength. When they are faced with a new situation that seems challenging, maybe they are even thinking of quitting, they will be able to think, 'This is hard. I know that, but I also know how hard dance was and how good I was.' They will be able to draw from that self-confidence," Herbison said.

Herbison said while the DAA hopes to have more companies come visit and perform, it is costly.

"We are certainly hopeful we will be able to continue offer opportunities like this our dancers, but these engagements do cost money. We were fortunate to receive a Mississippi Arts Commission mini-grant to present Front Porch Dance. We will continue to pursue outside funding opportunities and apply those to the right situation for our dancers," she explained.  

Herbison added that she is looking forward to the future in regards to the dancers and the program at the DAA and also said, "I hope to see our School of Dance continue its upward trajectory. Enrollment is up; we have three rostered instructor spots and currently offering six different classes. The energy and the momentum is positive."

Erin Schiewe Rockwell, co-founder and co-director of Front Porch Dance, said she is looking forward to the event and what the company can bring to the delta.

"We'll be doing a workshop with them that day and building choreography based on looking at their personal story and seeing what they have to say abut their story and life. Then we will work on bringing that out through movement in performance that evening," she said.

Rockwell also added she feels each dancer has a story and is a piece of Mississippi that contributes to and can have an impact on other Mississippians.

"I think that the biggest thing is that they, even thought they may be young or less experienced as far as movement, have a voice and they have a story. It's important enough to share and it can be shared not just through speaking, but also through movement. That can be a very powerful way of connecting to others and other peoples' stories. Their story might be one color and one design but it sits in this bigger picture of the Mississippi story. We can also provide a new perspective on viewing movement and dance," she explained.

Krista Bower, co-founder and co-director of Front Porch Dance, said the company is looking forward to their visit and performance.

"The seven members of Front Porch Dance are looking forward to their first performance in Cleveland. The choreography featured in this performance was inspired by the artwork found in “The Mississippi Story” exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. Each dance work explores aspects of the unique landscapes, images, and people of Mississippi, and we are eager to share this concert with audiences in Cleveland," she said.

Bower also hopes to benefit the dancers of the DAA.

"We hope that these young dancers will be inspired as they participate in our creative process and as they dance alongside professional artists on stage. As part of their dance education, it is important for young students to be able to see professional dance performance and to talk with company members to learn from their experience. The mission of Front Porch Dance is to foster appreciation of contemporary dance by engaging audiences through approachable dance art. The Q&A will provide an excellent forum for conversation about our choreographic process and about the inspiration behind each of the dance works."

For more information about Front Porch Dance and their performance with the Delta Arts Alliance call (662) 843-3344.