TAMU-CC Department of Theatre & Dance Introduces First Dance Company

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – For some time now, Sarah Gonzalez, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Assistant Professor of Dance, has heard from a steady stream of Islanders who were looking to participate in more performance opportunities above and beyond what is required for a dance minor or certificate. Her solution was to spearhead the creation of the first TAMU-CC Dance Company. Auditions were held in spring 2021, and the first ensemble features 11 members.

“We were all desiring more long-term choreographic processes that are purely for creating artistic work to share with others,” said Gonzalez. “The dance company is a fun opportunity for not only the promising dance students in our dance minor program, but also for me as a choreographer.”

The dance company allows student dancers to continually engage in their passion for performing along with enhancing their technical skills in ballet, modern, and jazz. While many dance minors major in theatre, a number of students hail from other programs. One such dancer is clinical psychology graduate student Madison Cruger ’24.

A day in the dance company is a day filled with laughter, fun, and creativity, but it also is filled with focus, feedback, and hard work.

Madison Cruger '24, TAMU-CC psychology graduate student

Cruger says she realized her passion for dancing at the age of 8 when she watched the 2001 animated film “Barbie in the Nutcracker.” Barbie’s transformation into a ballerina, complete with a tutu and pointe shoes, lit a spark in her heart for dance. Cruger’s heavy involvement in the TAMU-CC dance department through classes and various professor-led projects led her to auditioning and becoming a member of the dance company.

“As a member of the dance company, I’m surrounded by my closest friends,” Cruger said. “Dancing is my stress reliever. A day in the dance company is a day filled with laughter, fun, and creativity, but it also is filled with focus, feedback, and hard work. We all share a passion for spreading our love for dance throughout our community, and this is one of the many reasons I love being a member.”

Fellow dance company member Angelina Tapia ’24 can also relate. A Corpus Christi native who has been dancing since the age of 3, Tapia was trained by Gonzalez, along with Jilissa Cotten, TAMU-CC Associate Professor and Director of Dance, in her formative years and sought an opportunity to continue working with them even though she is a pre-nursing student.

“It’s important to me to make time to participate in the TAMU-CC Dance Company because I felt like I was lacking something – a team,” Tapia said. “I graduated from high school during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in my first year of college, I struggled to make friends. With the dance company, I was able to have that team atmosphere back.”

To date, the TAMU-CC Dance Company has performed at Art Ball 2021 and Island Dance Demo, both in November, and in the Bailando International Dance Festival in October.

As dance company members, students can train in all dance genres and learn the fundamentals of choreography, artistic history, and theories of dance as an art form.

Gonzalez says that long-term goals for the dance company are to increase in member size, choreograph and host a stand-alone dance concert, and give student dancers opportunities to be involved in choreographing works, managing appearances, marketing, and fundraising.

“I think it’s important to have our college students experience all sides of what it takes to be part of a performance group but also engage in the production and administration sides of a performance company,” Gonzalez said.

Auditions for 2022-23 membership are expected to be held in late spring 2022. To audition, students must officially declare dance as a minor/certificate, or have already attained it, and have ample dance training. Members are required to enroll in technique courses each semester. For more information, email sarah.gonzalez@tamucc.edu.