After Dark highlights the talent of Baylor students

Baylor Dance Company showing off their skills in preparation for After Dark. Grace Everett | photo editor

By Erianne Lewis | Arts and Life Editor

Students will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Waco Hall for the annual talent show, After Dark, hosted by Student Productions. Geneva, Illinois, junior Grace Beattie and Frisco sophomore Ava Bohling are part of Student Productions and are executive producers for After Dark this year.

Beattie and Bohling said the planning process began over the summer with the brainstorming of theme ideas.

Bohling said they recruit people any way they can, through social media, email and by attending open mic nights at Common Grounds.

Eleven artists are taking part in the showcase, including Bohling who will play the piano accompanied by an original song. Performers vary from singers and dancers to poets and unicyclists. There will even be two featured student films.

Bohling and Beattie add more detail to the show than in previous years.

The stage and surrounding areas will be decorated with decor appropriate to this year’s theme, “A Night on the Town”.

“Seeing it all come together, seeing our performers and seeing the theme put together and it was all like, ‘oh, our vision is coming true,’” Bohling said.

Fairfax, Virginia, senior and president of the Unicycle Academy, William Burns, said he was encouraged to audition and he, along with the other unicyclists, quickly put together a video.

Burns and three other unicyclists will perform a script-based act with a unicycle-stealing antagonist. Burns said the performance will last about five to six minutes.

In its act, the Unicycle Academy enlisted someone from every classification level to participate, Burns said.

Unicycle Academy at Baylor performing their skit during the After Dark dress rehearsal.
Unicycle Academy at Baylor performing their skit during the After Dark dress rehearsal at Waco Hall. Grace Everett | photo editor

“It will be a good bonding experience across different ages,” Burns said. “I hope the club will last after my departure. It was here before I got here, so it’s been that long, which is inspiring. I’m really looking to engage freshmen, and I think this cross-class effort will help them get more involved.

Inspired by his football coach at the time, Burns started riding a unicycle a decade ago after receiving it as a Christmas present.

“It’s kind of like flying, more than a bike,” Burns said. “You only have one point of contact with the ground and you feel a bit airborne. It’s refreshing.

Houston senior Jennifer Gannon and Rocklin, Calif. senior Taylor Williams are part of the Baylor Dance Company, another act that performs in the showcase.

Gannon said Baylor Dance Company officers attend After Dark every year. There are five officers performing in the dance, which was choreographed by Gannon, president of the Baylor Dance Company. Gannon said she was thrilled to see the girls perform the choreography on stage.

Gannon and Williams started dancing when they were three and four years old respectively. However, they had different paths which led them to the Baylor Dance Company.

Gannon danced competitively growing up and joined her school’s drill team when she entered high school. Williams grew up dancing in the studio, and she joined the varsity dance team in high school.

“My grandma wanted me to do a more feminine sport, and my mom and dad said ‘No’ to me competing,” Williams said. “She [my grandmother] didn’t want me to play football, so she put me in the dance. I played football with my father and danced with my grandmother. Here I am at university, still dancing.

Williams said there came a time when her football and dancing schedules were too busy for her to continue doing both. Meanwhile, her grandmother sat her down and told her she could stop dancing if she needed to, Williams said.

“She still swears to this day that what I said to her then was ‘No Grammy, I don’t want to stop dancing. Dancing brings me joy,'” Williams said. It’s kind of my mantra when I think about dance.”

Both Gannon and Williams joined the Baylor Dance Company in their freshman year of college. Gannon said dancing had a bigger impact on her and shaped her into the woman she is today.

“My favorite part of dancing is always the performance aspect,” Gannon said. “I love performing. I love the feeling you get when you perform. Coming to college, I developed a great love for choreography. I love the art of dance, how it pushes you continuously, you and your character.

Williams said there’s something special about watching non-dancers enjoy a performance.

“I love hearing opinions from people who have never seen a dance performance before,” Williams said. “When I have friends who come to our performances for Baylor Dance Company, who don’t understand what we do and the level we play at, after watching, they’re like, ‘Wow. It was amazing. It also makes me feel joy, because they can see the beauty in what we do. I feel better knowing that I am sharing something so happy with other people.

Beattie said during rehearsal on Tuesday, one of the artists performed a song that made him cry because of the Baylor connection.

“It just brought me a lot of nostalgia and emotions,” Beattie said. “I know people experience music and different acts in different ways. So I think engaging the audience in that way and feeling those emotions again and just being in that moment, that’s what I’m excited for.

Robert M. Larson