Breaking out into the professional world of dance


Senior dance major, Sabatino Verlezza, performed over the weekend at the Kent Dance Esemble Break Out, March 31- April 1. The dancers performed at the Music and Speech center in The Stump Theater. Photo by Emily Martin.

Megan Confer

Being a part of the Kent Dance Ensemble takes not only talent, but a strong sense of professionalism.

This weekend, the ensemble showcased their professionalism through six pieces as a part of their annual main stage show, “BREAK OUT!” The group began preparing for the show in August.

Kimberly Karpanty, artistic director of the show and associate dance professor, said professionalism is an important part of the ensemble.

“[The dancers] are considered pre-professional, and they get into the company through audition,” Karpanty said. “They are taken not only based on that day of audition but also what they have done over the year. It’s based on professionalism, grade point average, creativity and how they are wiling to collaborate with others.”

“The members of the Kent Dance Ensemble are expected to be leaders,” Karpanty said. “Both by conduct and mentorship in the department. They put in a lot of work.”

Karpanty said the dancers rehearse Saturday mornings as well as return early from university breaks in order to get an idea of what a dance career would be like.

“They are all about to go into advanced study or going into a professional career,” Karpanty said. “I tried to bring work that helped them breakout of their comfort zones.”

Karpanty said the purpose is to give the dancers a professional atmosphere.

“They sign contracts,” Karpanty said. “They are expected to be on time and be respectful.”

Each member is also expected to follow rules meant to mirror a professional dance group, such as not tanning or sunbathing because of the theatrical lighting used. Karpantry also said dancers cannot drastically change their hairstyle without approval of the choreographers.

LaRonica Southerland, senior dance major, said it’s important to remain proficient at all times.

“You never know who will come to see your show,” Southerland said. “You don’t know who’s in the audience.”

Southerland said being a member of the ensemble has taught her valuable professional skills.

“It has taught me how to dance with other dancers as one,” Southerland said. “I learned how to move as one, work with others and work with different guest artists. It has also given us the opportunity to make connections.”

Sabatino Verlezza, senior dance major, had the opportunity to be the student artistic director.

“A big component of my job as the student artistic director is to act as a liaison between the artistic director and the company as well as raising funds to bring in the guest artists,” Verlezza said.

Apart from their performing, the ensemble also worked to engage the community.

“We do community outreach,” Verlezza said. “We do lecture demonstrations at middle schools and high schools. We also teach dance and composition workshops. A big component of what we want to do is promote dance education and to reach out to the community as much as possible.”

Verlezza said being a part of the ensemble is something each member has worked toward.

“I remember being a young dance major and looking up to the dancers in the group as leaders and representatives for our dance division,” Verlezza said. “Being able to take on that role now is very special and very important to all of us.”

Contact Megan Confer at [email protected].