What to expect from the Contemporary Dance Ensemble this semester | Lifestyles


The Virginia Tech Contemporary Dance Ensemble, abbreviated CDE, is one of the few non-competitive dance teams at Virginia Tech.

“Not being competitive gives us more time to create because we’re not stressed out,” said Amber Wallace, principal and student, major in animal and poultry science. “We don’t need to win. We just show our creativity, who we are.

As a student director, Wallace’s job is to act as the official representative of the CDE and to ensure that the organization functions well. Wallace devotes at least two hours a day to CDE-related tasks.

“Being a student principal is tough,” Wallace said. “It’s stressful, but honestly I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Technically speaking, CDE is not a team, but rather a student company of dancers associated with Virginia Tech.

“We’re not a dancing sorority,” Wallace said. “We are focused on dancing.

Regardless of its official reputation, CDE members still see themselves as a team.

“You are in a family and you know everyone,” said Sara Benton, a first year human development student. “We have a lot of team ties… like movie nights, we have one this weekend.”

The team has a number of bonding events like hikes and movie nights. The CDE even has a leadership position dedicated to bonding with new members.

“(The team) were super inviting,” said Skylar Taube, a freshman in marketing. “The first week the new ambassador – her name is Holly – was like ‘I’m your dance mom this year’, and that was super cool.”

The CDE is divided into two groups, Full Company and Associate Company, both of which perform live. However, the company as a whole is considered to be the most advanced and dedicated group, which Wallace hopes to change.

Instead of focusing on competitions, the CDE puts on a show every semester. Last spring, her show was dedicated to suicide awareness and she donated part of the money raised to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The show itself told the story of a suicidal individual and each of the plays was linked to this central theme.

“We really wanted to show how when a person is in this situation, the people around them can affect them and help them get up,” said Carlee Wyker, senior human nutrition specialist, the diet and exercise. “I choreographed a piece for that called ‘Safe Inside’. The play was kind of about how somebody offers help to another person and refuses it at first and … you just have to go back and keep offering it because at some point they will need it. It’s about showing unconditional love for people.

The team hopes to come up with an equally creative theme for their next show this semester.

“This year we’re thinking of doing a sitcom series and doing an episode for each dance,” Wallace said. “But, it’s still a work in progress.”

As president of public relations, it is Wyker’s job to promote CDE’s upcoming shows as well as society in general. She takes care of all social media platforms, website maintenance and team photo or video coverage.

“I love the aspect of promoting a show and determining the logistics of the show and everything,” Wyker said.

CDE members have the chance to contribute to the team by choreographing a piece for the show.

“In (competitions) you don’t really have the opportunity to be in charge or be creative,” Wyker said. “The CDE gives you the opportunity to be a choreographer and to be creative.

While choreography of a piece is not a requirement for all members, most see it as a chance to improve their skills as a dancer.

“The choreography is a lot of work, but I’m really lucky I had this opportunity,” said Wyker.

Despite the name of the company, not all dances are contemporary; the pieces vary in style, depending on the choreographer. The show incorporates jazz, tap dancing, hip-hop and, of course, contemporary, since different dancers favor different styles.

“My favorite style of dancing is contemporary because I can show movement and technique while still expressing myself as a dancer,” Benton said.

The team has an upcoming Memory Through the Arts (RTA) workshop which is open to the general public, so anyone who wants to learn to dance can attend – no previous experience is necessary.

The CDE organizes tests in the fall and spring semesters; there are two test dates in the fall, but only one in the spring. Although experience is not required to try for the team, the majority of CDE members have dance experience.

“In high school I danced a lot,” Taube said. “It was most of my life outside of school. So when I got to Virginia Tech I had to find a way to keep this.

The dancers come from different studios and have different styles, but they have one thing in common: their passion for dancing.

“We’re all one big family,” Wallace said. “Even though we come from different backgrounds, we all love to dance.”

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