Adelle Dennis performs in “The Prophetess” in fall of 2019. Photo by Rob Mohr (C’21).
By Mary Katherine Saye
It was no surprise upon meeting Adelle Dennis (C’21) to find that she is a dancer. Perfect posture, a bright smile, and an admirable sense of composure for a college student set her apart. She is studying dance as a minor with more than 13 years of experience and it’s clear the amount of dedication required is not a concern for her.
Learning how to choreograph dances in high school led her to choreograph the opening of “DanceWise: Backwards in High Heels” this past fall. She is grateful for this opportunity because it taught her how to choreograph for a large group and gave her a chance to know the dancers on a personal level.
In preparation for the show, she shares how fruitful it was working with a guest choreographer, Leanne Rinelli. Though Rinelli didn’t choreograph her dance specifically for DanceWise, Dennis emphasized the fact that Rinelli had a very “open approach” to what Dennis and fellow dancers wanted to express and made adjustments to movements accordingly.
Dennis shared that in the process of choreographing her own dance for DanceWise, she too found it important to know what desired to be expressed. She auditioned to be a choreographer for the show, the theme of which paid homage to the legacy of women at Sewanee.
Dennis’s inspiration came unexpectedly from the Game of Thrones soundtrack which she says “pushed” the dance to align with her vision. She paid special attention to movements such as lifting up and reaching because she wanted to convey a sense of support that was so central to the show.
She offered that the life of a dancer can be strenuous and time consuming because of the long rehearsals in preparation for shows like these. Yet, she spent more time talking about how moving it was to be able to participate in the creative process of other student choreographers and how the show’s theme became meaningful to her.
In April, Dennis will be participating in a show formally known as “Dynamics” and choreographing a ballet trio. Various styles of dances will be showcased as well as the involvement of other organizations on campus such as theatre groups.
Dennis admits that after high school, she was considering dropping dance to focus on other things. But her time at Sewanee has given her a “creatively nurturing environment” in which she has met some of her greatest friends and is free to participate in creative events such as “DanceWise” and “Dynamics.” She shared that dancing at Sewanee has changed the way she views herself as a performer and has taught her to appreciate other styles of dance. There is no question that Dennis is not simply stepping into another year, rather she is dancing into it.