WMU News

April dance graduate gets prestigious apprenticeship

May 11, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Following a grueling six-hour audition for River North Chicago Dance Company, recent Western Michigan University graduate Lacey Kelley was one of three women chosen out of 140 dancers for the company's prestigious summer apprenticeship program and a possible future with the well-known jazz dance group.

The fast-paced audition was a mix of styles, techniques and intimidation. The participants were split into smaller audition groups, with each group required to learn combinations in ballet, jazz and modern dance. The groups also learned combinations involving company repertoire, a male and female partnering duet and a lyrical solo. After each combination was performed by an audition group, a cut was made.

"The audition was not only challenging physically, but also demanded a lot mentally," says Kelley. "What I've been through at Western and what I've learned [gave me] the confidence to know that I would make it through to the end."

The summer apprenticeship program with River North begins in July and consists of daily company technique classes and lessons in company repertoire. "Basically we learn everything they learn without having a spot [in the company] and experience their lives as professional company dancers," Kelley says. The program culminates with a mini-performance at the end of the summer where the apprentices can showcase what they've learned.

Kelley was born in Georgia and moved to Florida when she was 10. There she began dancing with Rolanns School of Dance. After living in Florida for three years, her family relocated to Burr Ridge, Ill., where she continued dancing with Salt Creek Ballet and the Academy of Dance Arts. While at the academy, Kelley decided to pursue a college degree in dance at WMU. She graduated in April. Kelley is the recipient of the Junior Miss Premiere 2000 award from the Premiere 2000 dance competition as well as several awards and scholarships for excellence in dance from WMU and summer workshops.

Media contact: Sara Johnson, 269 387-5830, johnsonsa@groupwise.wmich.edu

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