Photo by Doug West

Learning how to balance classes, work and rehearsals is something that all performers learn quickly when getting involved with the Department of Theatre and Dance at West Chester University. As performers, the tech week before a big show can be one of the most stressful weeks of the semester. If you are attending the University Dance Company’s fall concert “Continuity,” you will see 10 different works of art, effortlessly executed by the company’s ensemble of 53 beautiful dancers. What you won’t see is the 10 weeks of long rehearsals, late nights and early mornings, followed by an entire week of lighting and spacing rehearsals. You won’t feel the dancer’s pain of hearing the phrase “one more time,” which actually means “we’re going to run this piece at least seven more times.” Most notably, you won’t see a crew of the most dedicated students working behind the scenes to make the concert run flawlessly.

The stage crew for “Continuity” is run completely by West Chester University students who are majors and minors within the Department of Theatre and Dance. After previously shadowing former stage manager and student Katie Coyle, Sab Sinsel will be calling the concert independently for the first time as a part of her education as a stage manager in her theater major. Calling a concert includes indicating lighting and music cues, navigating the curtain system and ensuring that all dancers are set in place and present before a piece begins. “The process of calling a show is nerve wracking but once you nail a piece, it feels great,” says Sinsel.

Junior Becs Smith holds the title of master electrician and assistant lighting designer. With this role, Becs is in charge of running the set up and breakdown of the stage’s lighting equipment, as well as shadowing guest lighting director, Jon DeGaetano ‘10. “We have a different lighting designer every year, but this is Jon’s second semester with UDC so we’ve really created a bond and a trust. That’s really important. Because he lives in New York, he is able to rely on me when he’s not here,” says Smith. DeGaetano is a graduate of the WCU Department of Theatre and Dance who recently earned his graduate degree, an MFA in Design, from the Brooklyn College. He is currently based in New York City and designs theatre, dance and performance art in and around the city.

“Continuity” will feature pieces choreographed by students Kourtney Kukowski, Julia Rizzo, Zoe Weiss and DenNira Whitley. Dance faculty Liz Staruch and Gretchen Studlien-Webb will also be presenting work along with guest professional artists Shannon Braham, Jill Glace, Kareem Goodwin and Denise Murphy.

Jill Glace is also a West Chester University alum returning to debut her piece “Veiled Cages.” This piece explores the concept of the duality of conflict in the mind and body. The dancers find feelings of restriction in their movement, while set in partners separated by a thin breathable fabric. As Glace explains, “The fabric is metaphoric for the cages our bodies are placed in. However, the cage is softer than we think. We aren’t stuck in wrought iron. There is a way out and a way through.”

Performances of “Continuity” will run Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Madeleine Wing Adler Theater located inside the Swope Music Building. A food drive to benefit the West Chester Food Cupboard will be held for the Nov. 9, 7:30pm concert only. Bring two non-perishable items to the box office for a half-priced ticket. To purchase tickets, please visit or purchase at the door on the night of the show.

“Performances of ‘Continuity’ will run Nov. 8 at 7:30pm and Nov. 9 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm in the Madeleine Wing Adler Theater located inside the Swope Music Building.”

Rachel Stoll is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in dance.

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