Friends, family and In-Motion Dance Troupe alumni entered Shippensburg University’s Memorial Auditorium this weekend, bearing bouquets of flowers and departing with warm sentiments and nostalgia.
Troupe members took the Memorial stage to perform a series of 18 dances last Thursday, Friday and Saturday during their 32nd annual recital. It was a passing of the torch scenario for four freshman members, who as new additions performed their first recital alongside four senior members who pirouetted, krumped and tapped on stage as troupe members for the final time.
While honoring the growth of graduating members and the memories that they made during their time with the troupe were a focal point of the performance, they shared the tribute with former tech crew technician, Frank Detweiler, who died unexpectedly in August. The tech crew provides technical support for various events and performances on campus, and works closely with troupe members to prepare the stage lighting and effects featured during their annual recital.
Prior to the recital’s commencement, Elizabeth Yoder, assistant director for technical and event services, took the stage to speak of Detweiler and the impact he made on the lives of his fellow crew. As a token of empathy for his family’s loss and to express their appreciation of the lasting memories that Detweiler built with many tech crew members, Detweiler’s family was invited on stage to accept a commemorative gift.
“We want you to have something to remember that while Frank loved the tech crew, the tech crew also loved Frank,” Yoder said.
With stiff smiles and dewy eyes, the Detweilers returned to their seats with a frame filled with a picture collage and other tech crew memorabilia. Following the tender words conveyed in celebration of Detweiler’s life, troupe members began their recital — dancing in tribute to him.
The first dances of the recital were “Thumbs,” which was choreographed by senior Megan Marquart and junior Angelina Stewart, followed by a more contemporary dance titled “Work Song,” choreographed by Reilly Bedesem, a sophomore at SU.
To fill the time needed to switch outfits and prep between dance routines, each of the 15 members was filmed giving shout-outs to the individuals attributable to their lives successes, followed by a video compilation of pictures that captured who they are as individuals.
As the recital progressed, the style of dance pivoted toward hip-hop with a solo piece performed and choreographed by sophomore Jaya Watty to the Cardi B song “Bodak Yellow.” Watty hit the moves in her solo with authority and vigor — setting the tone for the troupe’s hip-hop spirit rally routine, which was the final performance before a brief intermission.
Before resuming for the second half of the recital, Detweiler again took the spotlight with a video that assembled various photographs of him participating in tech crew tasks and highlighted some of his friends’ favorite memories through stories. Once the video ended, the auditorium was flooded with darkness before it was brightened with brilliant light beams that accompanied throwback tunes, in what the tech crew referred to as “the light show Frank always dreamed of.”
When the troupe returned to the stage for the second half of its recital, dancing merged with acting in the “Wizard of Oz” performance when dancers took on characters and movie scenes projected in the background, underscored the theatrical choreography. Breaking from the traditionalism of the original “Wizard of Oz” movie screened behind the dancers, troupe members incorporated modern songs into the skit that maintained a coherent storyline through the lyrics.
Some of the standout performances at the tail end of the recital included “Castle on the Hill” and “Back Home.” “Castle on the Hill,” choreographed by sophomore Breann Sheckells, challenged dancers with the detail and precision that tap dance demands, and succeeded with its ability to highlight the tempo and key aspects of the song with the tap of feet. Urging the troupe’s seniors to soak up as much of the center stage glory that they could before the last few grains of sand fell from the hourglass of time, reality sank in for the four seniors during “Back Home” — moving one to tears.
The finale of the recital was a dance routine choreographed by Marquart and Stewart to the Jordin Sparks song “S.O.S,” and each dancer made an appearance in the closing piece. Once the dancers trotted off the stage upon the conclusion of “S.O.S,” they were invited back on stage by class for the curtain call.
Adhering to tradition, the underclassmen presented seniors Marquart, Cassandra Price and Carly Smakulski with a bouquet of flowers, but Marissa Moore stood as a flowerless outsider. Answering the murmurs in the crowd, Moore’s boyfriend appeared from behind the stage’s curtain and crossed the stage with the missing bouquet of flowers, a question and a ring. Moore said yes.