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Department Of Dance

Leaping Into the Professional World: BYU Dance Students Join GibneyPRO

Four BYU Students Are Asked To Study With World-Renowned Gibney Dance

Dancers from BYU’s Contemporary Area will work in New York with a prestigious dance company until May 2024. In February 2023, Gibney Dance Company (Gibney) performed at BYU as part of the 2022-23 BRAVO! Performing Arts Series, which was also one stop on the company’s national nine-city tour. Founded in 1991, Gibney now boasts 23 studios and thousands of world-renowned artists. The company uses its platform to encourage dancers as both artists and activists and deepen community engagement.

Earnshaw and CDT dancers performing Omar Jesus’s piece at the Gibney studios. Photo by McCall McClellan

Following their performance on campus, Contemporary Dance Theatre (CDT) Artistic Director Keely Song took students to New York City to perform works by Gibney choreographers, NYC artists and BYU Dance faculty. Students also took classes and participated in workshops at the Gibney studios where they fortified the relationships they had created with Gibney on campus. CDT’s close work with Gibney on campus and in NYC resulted in four students being invited to join the GibneyPRO Professional Training Certificate Program (GibneyPRO).

These four CDT members, Hannah Hardy, Emerson Earnshaw, Steve Bangerter and Audrey Allen, were a part of the 18 dancers chosen from around the country to join GibneyPRO. Earnshaw says, “I feel really lucky that there are so many of us from BYU going at the same time. It's very comforting and exciting to be taking a support system out there with us.”

GibneyPRO is a two-semester program running from September to May. The dancers will participate in classes from 10am-6pm each day, working both alone and with the company. Throughout the year, six choreographers will be brought in to set new work on the GibneyPRO dancers. Students will also have the opportunity to choreograph their own works and present them in two “Works in Progress” showings at the end of each semester. Hardy hopes to use the “autonomy” choreographic time to create a piece that she can present as her senior capstone project. She will graduate from BYU in December 2023.

Hardy and CDT dancers performing Omar Jesus’s piece at the Gibney studios. Photo by McCall McClellan


Watching and working with the Gibney dancers on campus touched the students and with a little encouragement from Gibney dancer and choreographer Jesse Obremski, they decided to audition for GibneyPRO. Earnshaw and Hardy both spoke about how inspiring it was to watch the Gibney dancers work. They learned a lot about what type of environment they want to find and foster in their own careers. Both noted the sense of unity that the company displayed. Earnshaw says, “From watching them I learned that I want to be in spaces with that sense of community and unity.” Hardy remembers the company using “I invite” statements when addressing each other. This created a space of respect for teacher, student and dancer. Hardy says, “Regardless of our status as teachers or students, they were so appreciative of where we were coming from.”

The students are excited to grow through their GibneyPRO experience as dancers. Earnshaw says, “I’m excited to allow my artistry to grow and this will be a clarifying experience to help me decide my future. I’m excited to be exposed to new methodologies and a wide variety of [dance] philosophies because New York has such specific thinking when it comes to contemporary dance.”

Hardy and CDT dancers performing Omar Jesus’s piece at the Gibney studios. Photo by McCall McClellan

Hardy feels confident that GibneyPRO is the next step in her artistic journey. She says, “I actually had a spiritual experience with my application. While I was submitting [my application] I thought, “Should I do this?” Then I got the feeling, “Yes, you should!” So I clicked submit. When I got accepted, it just felt right.”

Hardy’s advice to students beginning their college dance careers would be to “just go for it” even when nervous. “You might as well audition; who knows what will happen. You’ll end up where you’re supposed to end up.”

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