Texas Tech University

Fall Dance Fest: Supporting Student Choreographers

Eleanor Shaddix

November 29, 2022


The School of Theatre and Dance produced its annual Fall Dance Festival, November 16-19. A capstone for fourth-year dance students, the festival featured pieces from seven student choreographers. Two of those choreographers, Sydney Rood (BFA Dance) and Reana Tibbs (BA Dance), shared their experiences, not only the fun they had while envisioning and rehearsing the show, but also describing the support they received from the faculty and students.

Reana TibbsTibbs' piece, Coming After Me, depicts her struggles in high school with depression and bullies, and how she overcame these with help from the Holy Spirit. While the choreography was inspired by a personal experience, one of the most exciting aspects of the event was the community formed during the rehearsal process. In fact, during the last night of the show, Tibbs' birthday, the dancers in her cast surprised her with a gift and card in honor of the special day. This moment was very precious to her because of the difficulties she faced in past years: “The sentiment in the card truly expressed the meaning of friendship, which meant all the more because of my less-than-desirable experience in high school. I couldn't have learned more from the experience, and it went a long way towards rewriting the hurt I experienced in high school.”

Tibbs' was able to return the love to her cast by thanking each one of them for their participation in her piece: “I got them each small gifts to show my appreciation for their hard work, and I was delighted that they were so warm and receptive.” 

The support that Tibbs experienced during the Fall Dance Festival process is echoed by Sydney Rood, the second choreographer who agreed to be interviewed. In fact, her experience was so rich that she is unable to choose a favorite moment: “Each rehearsal was so full of laughs and silly moments that it is challenging to choose one that defined the experience, but I felt very fortunate to have such a wonderful cast who dedicated themselves to hard work while enjoying the entire experience.” 

Sydney RoodRood's piece, entitled Imperial, featured choreography that experimented both with “musicality and movement” more than to make a particular statement. Choosing a classical piece of music, Rood layered hip hop beats over it for contrast. She is grateful to the dance faculty for help to create her piece, especially YNOT (Anthony De Naro): “He was extremely helpful when it came to mixing the beats. The guidance and support I've received since I came into the program gave me the confidence to create what I did this semester.” 

Both of these talented young women agree that the community in the program makes it wonderful to be a dance student here at Tech. Roods adds, “The faculty, students, and staff have created an environment that fosters growth and pushes students out of their comfort zone in a safe environment. I appreciate how our faculty cares about its students; they truly want to see us succeed and will walk beside you to make it possible”

The fourth-year dance students put on a terrific show this year, made possible by the wonderful students and faculty intent on providing a space where creativity can thrive.