Dancing on the Edge Returns

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Dancers workout their steps for Dancing on the Edge. Featured here, Onajae Edmunds, Paige Lake, Daria Gilbert and Owen Tidd.

For Radford University’s Dance program, no event is bigger than its annual performance of Dancing on the Edge. The 2022 incarnation will feature a variety of styles in five different pieces choreographed by faculty and a guest artist, Maxx Reed. 

Interim Chair of Dance, Amy VanKirk serves as the artistic director and choreographed a piece titled Rhythm and Groove.  

“It is a joyful piece celebrating the vernacular dances of the second half of the 20th century with a focus on community and the celebration of jazz dance roots,” VanKirk said. “Students in the cast were encouraged to find their own “inner groove” and express authentic joy through their movement.” 

Assistant Professor Ji-Eun Lee choreographed two pieces, Hide and Seek, and God.  

Hide and Seek features dancers from the Radford University Ballet Youth (RUBY) program, which draws in young people from outside the university to train and dance with Department of Dance faculty and students. It examines the human experience of nostalgia, and the longing people feel for the memories of their youth. 

God, as the title suggests, is a more pensive piece exploring the experience of those who lose faith in God and keep this sense of loss buried in their hearts.

Collaboration between the classes is par for the course in Radford’s Dance program. From let to right, Madz Alexander (junior), Onajae Edmund (freshman), Kenz Thomas (sophomore) and Loren Lucas (senior).

In contrast, Professor Deborah McLaughlin’s offering, Trainsitting, is a lighthearted, multimedia piece based on the desire to see a sophisticated train system replace America’s reliance on automobiles. Utilizing film and photography, the work notes the creativity expressed in train graffiti and the New River Train Observatory, while also observing a disregard for the railway system. 

The guest artist piece was choreographed by renowned choreographer Maxx Reed, who worked with students in February to create Block Party, a commercial style work that explodes on stage. 

For freshman Onajae Edmund, Dancing on the Edge is part of a busy but exciting month. He just performed in the musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, and is featured in Rhythm and Groove.  

“It’s high energy,” Edmunds said of the piece, which travels through different decades to tell its story. “I know a lot of people are going to have fun with it.” 

For senior Loren Lucas, the event is the culmination of a successful student career in the Dance program. Naturally, graduation brings some bittersweet emotions, but she’s confident about her future. 

Senior Loren Lucas and freshman Onajae Edmund work with Interim Chair of Dance and choreographer, Amy VanKirk, on a performance for Dancing on the Edge.

“There have been so many opportunities for me to grow as a dancer and a person, and I am very grateful that when I leave here, I’m not going to be lost,” she said. 

“I’m going to move forward in the future always remembering what I have been given here.” 

Kenz Thomas, a sophomore, and Madz Alexander, a junior, find themselves in the middle of their experience, anticipating the upcoming show. 

“There’s an emotional connection in dance,” said Alexander. “We quite literally roll in each other’s blood, sweat and tears.” 

“Every time I see these people, am so honored to be able to dance beside them.” 

Thomas says that the process of sharing the same storyline and narrative and working on a piece that expresses emotions creates bonds that translate on stage. 

“The whole point of being in this piece is to find joy and connection to other people,” Thomas said. “That is the point of why we’re dancing and that is how we are supposed to feel.”   

The show is open to the public and offers three performances in Bondurant Auditorium in Preston Hall on the main campus. On April 28th and 29th, the show starts at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, April 30, audiences can enjoy an afternoon performance at 2 p.m. 

Tickets are available at the door or through www.radfordactivities.com or by calling 540-831-5420.

Apr 25, 2022
Sean Kotz