‘Seasons of Change’ features ethnic rhythms


Becky Hannaway, exchange student from Northern Ireland, runs through a rehearsal for the December dance recital. The class rehearses without music to perfect their form.

Hawaiian hula rhythms and 1980s percussion beats serve as the inspiration for the Mount Mary College dance department’s upcoming performance, “Season of Change.”

This semester’s informal dance recital includes all new, original choreography for a wide variety of music ranging from a Polynesian number, “He Mele No,” to the Sheila E./Prince collaboration hit, “The Glamorous Life.”

Becky Hannaway, an exchange student from Northern Ireland participating in the United Kingdom’s Study U.S. program, is excited about her first dance performance in a Hawaiian floral-printed skirt.

“I’ve always wanted to live in America — to have the American college experience,” Hannaway said. “I never thought I’d be learning a Hawaiian dance.”

Jackie Luedtke, physical education and dance department chairperson and instructor, explained the content for the performance.

“Basically the [dances for the] fall show are ‘works in progress’ for spring, or it’s student work from the current semester,” Luedtke said.

Inside of the Caroline Hall gym, Luedtke and her volunteer crew construct a portable theater for each of the dance department’s performances. The stage is set up in the back half of the gym while the front serves as seating for the audience. In keeping with the international flavor of the department’s work, the portable stage is called The Global Little Theatre.

In spite of the program’s small numbers, Mount Mary’s dance community enjoys a loyal following.

“I’ve been dancing with Jackie since 2007,” said Bethany Richardson, a Mount Mary art therapy graduate who visits campus weekly to continue dancing. “I guess it’s not a question of if I’m going to dance — I have to dance. I will always make time in my schedule for it.”

In addition to the group dances, Richardson will be performing a solo in the December recital.

“Solos are always nerve-wracking, but I wasn’t able to perform last year so I’m really excited to dance again,” Richardson said.

Luedtke plans for “The Glamorous Life” number to cap off the fall recital with the completed version serving as the finale for the spring performance.

Jackie’s daughter, Lyssa Luedtke, frequently joins rehearsals, working on choreography for the Sheila E. number along with several other dances. Lyssa, who studied dance at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, performs at Mount Mary as a guest dancer.

“I could dance in these,” Lyssa said, modeling bright yellow patent leather pumps for her mother. “What do you think?”

Lyssa plans to pair the 5-1/2 inch spiked heels with a fur coat as part of her costume for “The Glamorous Life” in the spring performance.

Sydney Dahlstrom, a freshman interior design student, is excited to perfom her first Polynesian dance.

“I’ve always wanted to learn it,” Dahlstrom. “I’m really excited for other people to see it too, and I think they will be more interested in Mount Mary’s Dance Association.”

Next semester Luedtke will be teaching three dance classes: 1) Beginning and Intermediate Modern Dance; 2) Modern Dance Technique and Theory; and 3) Dance Performance.

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