A student from Amherst is the focus of Sweet Briar’s Senior Dance Concert this spring. Cortney Lewandowski will perform “Spice of Life” at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 and 18 in the upper dance studio in the College’s Babcock Fine Arts Center. The concert is free and open to the public.
Lewandowski, who has been dancing since she was five, choreographed “Spice of Life” with the intent to showcase her diverse repertoire. The program features a wide range of dance styles, including modern, tap, lyrical, jazz and hip hop. Tap and jazz dance are her favorites:
“With jazz, you typically have funky and upbeat music. Every time I hear a song like that I start to move. With tap, it is the rhythm you make with your feet — it’s like the heartbeat to the dance.”
Both were a tremendous inspiration for some of the group dances in her concert.
And then, there is her family.
“The three biggest supporters of my dream of becoming a dancer are my parents and late grandmother,” Lewandowski said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have today.”
Her grandmother helped pay for her first dance classes at Terrific Time Dance Studio, which is now Amherst Dance Academy. Lewandowski later joined Forest Dance Academy, where she is also on the competition team.
Professor of dance Mark Magruder has watched Lewandowsk progress over the past four years.
“From rather shy beginnings in her first choreography classes to someone who understands the craft of making dances, Cortney has grown as a dancer,” he said, adding that she has a knack for comical elements. “I hope she does a solo that taps into that talent for her senior concert.”
And maybe she will. Creating her senior dance program and pulling all the pieces together challenged her to come up with fresh ideas for her choreography, Lewandowski said.
It also gave her a glimpse of “what it would be like to make dance a career.”
Between classes, rehearsals and all the traveling that comes with being part of a competitive team, it may feel like a full-time career already.
Yet, Lewandowski likes to give back. When she isn’t working on her own dance moves, the senior teaches dance to children at Amherst Dance Academy and in the after-school program at Sweet Briar.
“I absolutely love to teach dance and hope to continue doing so after I graduate in May,” she said.
Sweet Briar, she added, was a great choice for her not only because it is close to home, but also because of the creativity it fosters through its beautiful campus:
“It was somewhere I always wanted to go.”
For more information, contact Mark Magruder at (434) 381-6150 or [email protected]. (Please note that shoes must be removed before the studio.)
Contact: Janika Carey