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Evening of Dance Is A True Student Showcase; Four Participants Describe Their Anticipation

Story By:
Paul Miller | Director of Strategic Communications and Community Relations
Evening of Dance Poster
Samantha Parks ’24, bottom left, and Olivia Powell ’24, to her right, are among the dozens of students excited to be a part of the 50th anniversary evening of dance performance.

With the onset of spring comes many traditions at Keene State, including Evening of Dance, a popular annual showcase of original faculty choreography performed by students.

Evening of Dance is always anticipated but even more so this year as it celebrates its 50th. Inspired by composer Ira Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the Theatre & Dance Department decided on Dressed in Blue for an anniversary theme. Performances are April 11-13 at the Redfern Arts Center.

The event is one small example of the College’s vibrant arts scene, including concerts, recitals, films, art exhibits, and theatrical performances.

“While we are always looking to the future for ways to push our art form forward, this event will honor all that has happened before with Evening of Dance,” said Cynthia McLaughlin, associate professor of theatre and dance.

It’s all about our students, McLaughlin said, noting that 29 student dancers, 25 student technical support hands, and 60 student concert band members are among those involved.

While we are always looking to the future for ways to push our art form forward, this event will honor all that has happened before with Evening of Dance.”

– Cynthia McLaughlin, associate professor of theatre & dance

Alex Walton ’25, Mackenzie Casperson ’25, Samantha Parks ’24, and Olivia Powell ’24 are among the dozens of participating students. Each shared a brief thought about the upcoming production. Their academic major(s) is shown beneath their name.

Alex Walton


“I am a featured dancer in both Cynthia and Molly’s (Lynch) piece, Blue, as well as one of Riley Lynch’s pieces. For this anniversary edition, what the choreographers are creating will be magic on the stage. It’s an honor to be part of something this historical and big for Keene State. I started dancing at a very young age. I love to create. Whether it be music or movement, when I hear or see something that inspires me, I make something of my own.”

Mackenzie Casperson

Dance Performance and Choreography

“I’m cast as a dancer and extremely thankful for this opportunity. I am most excited to dance to live music. Most of my career has been dancing to pre-recorded music; I have never danced in collaboration with a live band, and I see this as an opportunity to get a gist of what it is like. … As a child, I remember choreographing little dances for me and my sister, Surelle. I followed my heart and kept pushing to be put into dance classes. Eventually, I entered the competitive dance world and I quickly fell in love with being able to communicate through movement.”

Samantha Parks

Dance Education and Elementary Education

“Bringing the dynamic landscape of Blue to life in performance is exciting. So much time and thought from choreographers and every dancer has gone into this. I am looking forward to seeing it all come together. The general extravagance of this being the 50th anniversary makes it feel more important and, in some way, I feel like I have something bigger to live up to or prove and that challenge also excites me. … Dance has allowed me to build qualities such as strength, perseverance, emotional regulation, the ability to truly listen to what my body needs, self-motivation, and confidence, in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to learn elsewhere.”

Olivia Powell


“I don’t have a direct dancing role, but I am excited to collaborate with my peers. I love dance because it gives me the ability to express myself without having to speak. I think that’s such a unique thing to be able to do. In an ideal world, I see myself traveling, teaching dance, and also having a private practice in rehabilitation counseling to help students like me who have body disabilities and injuries.”

Purchase tickets and learn more about the event.

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