Elite student dance company performs new recital

By: 

Lifestyle Reporter
Merge Dance Company rehearses March 4 at the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre.

San Marcos is home to performers and dancers, but a company is setting the standard for aspiring professionals.

Michelle Nance, associate professor and co-director of Merge Dance Company, said

the contemporary group is made up of eight dance majors who audition or are recruited to the exclusive team.

The team practices well into the evening hours on a weekly basis, Nance said. Members must be talented and have a good work ethic, she said.

Allen Bernabe, dance education junior, said he was one of the lucky few  asked to join the group without having to go through the audition process.

“It is very humbling and prestigious to be a part of the group,” Bernabe said.

The practice hours are grueling but rewarding, Bernabe said. The group has the opportunity to learn from and work with professional choreographers.

“Intersections”, the company’s latest recital, “merged” many styles together, Nance said. The name is a metaphor for the diverse group that came together to create the performance.

“It reminds me of the traffic on (Interstate Highway) 35,” Nance said. “We felt so many people involved.”

Nance said the performance featured 10 unique dances that evoked different moods.

She said a piece titled “Loss” was thought-provoking, poignant and sweet. The dance investigates issues and process of grieving.

Nance said the group helps students to enhance their skills and understand dance is a way of communicating.

The group routinely travels for performances. Nance and three group members traveled to Guatemala last year. The trip was an eye-opening experience for the members because it showed them dance can break language barriers, Nance said.

“Everybody moves, and gestures mean things, and you just get it,” Nance said.

Anthony Castillo, performance and choreography sophomore, said being a member has been a challenge.

“It has been a little overwhelming but exciting,” Castillo said. “I do this because I love it.”

Castillo, who has been dancing since the age of 13, said the group seemed professional when he auditioned.

“The energy level was up there, and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Castillo said.

The Merge Dance Company is open to all dance majors, Nance said. Membership is a yearlong commitment. Auditions will be held again before the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester.