Koresh dancer and ECU alumnus Micah Geyer prepares ECU students for their rehearsal for "Standing in Tears," to be performed on campus in March. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Alumni audition ECU dance students for March performance

Oct. 16, 2014

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

About 70 East Carolina University students were willing to forgo fall break for the chance to dance with an internationally-known company.

Thirteen made the final cut for “Standing in Tears,” a signature work by the Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance Company. The work will be performed in March during the S. Rudolph Alexander
Performing Arts Series and the ECU/Loessin Playhouse Dance 2015 production.

Koresh dancers Shannon Bramham and Micah Geyer, who are also ECU alumni, held auditions where each student learned and performed two excerpts of the original choreography.

“I would have given up summer break,” said Sarah Kleinke, a dance performance major from Hickory who was selected for the performance.

ECU dancer Nichesa Jones, pictured above, was one of 13 selected as a cast member for the ECU performance of “Standing in Tears," set for March as part of the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series.

“This outweighs any break we could have possibly had,” said Kelsie Jayne, a dance performance major from Clayton who also was selected. “I would have gone home and watched Netflix.”

Students participated in about 20 hours of rehearsals over five days to refine and, in a few months, perform in front of the company’s director, Ronen “Roni” Koresh, said Teal Darkenwald, assistant professor of theatre and dance.

The remarkable turnout was no surprise, Darkenwald said. “Dance majors are expected to go above and beyond the normal requirements of the university in the hopes of one day becoming part of a dance company such as Koresh,” she said.
Shannon Bramham

Now cast, the students will rehearse “Standing in Tears” about 90 minutes each week until the show opens this spring.

“We’ve already gotten so much out of this, to work with actual company members,” Kleinke said. “Having different teachers, it gives you a different perspective, a different way of doing a movement.”

It also provides networking opportunities, something the seniors are contemplating as graduation nears.

“We’ve been hearing about Koresh since we first got to ECU,” Jayne said. “To have Micah and Shannon here and to be a part of it is the greatest opportunity.”

The company was founded in 1991 by Israeli-born choreographer and artistic director Koresh. Known for engaging performances – a unique blend of ballet, modern and jazz - and technically superb dancers, the company performs critically acclaimed works in the United States and abroad.

For Bramham and Geyer, returning to ECU as company members and guest teachers has been surreal because they were ECU students when Koresh first performed on campus about seven years ago. “It’s come full circle,” Bramham said. “To see how the department has grown, it feels great.”
ECU dancers Kelsie Jayne, left, and Sarah Kleinke were both selected to perform in the Koresh Dancers performance in March.

While in school, Bramham performed in works chosen to be part of the American College Dance Festival Association in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, her own choreography was selected for the ACDFA Gala. She also had the chance to set her choreography on the South Dayton Dance Theatre in Dayton, Ohio.

“We’re here to give that push that it’s possible,” Bramham said, adding that studying at ECU taught her hard work and perseverance. “Not getting cast in everything prepares you (for the real world),” Bramham said.

“You definitely leave (ECU) well-rounded,” said Geyer, who has performed at the Kennedy Center and the Joyce Theater for Tap City, and toured throughout Europe and South America.

“We’re helping the next generation of dancers to fulfill their dreams and goals like we were able to,” Geyer said.

ECU cast members
Danyel Beaver
Noelle Dave
Kirsten Genovese
Kelsie Jayne
Nichesa Jones
Sarah Kleinke
Lauren Pittman
Bridgett Taylor

Kristalyn Gill
Danie Johnson
Benji Martin
Sheridan McHenry
Felix Rucker