Gracie Black: Making the most of Contemporary Dance at IU

By Sara Cruz

IU Contemporary Dance BFA Gracie Black

Senior BFA in Contemporary Dance, Gracie Black, has received the Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity! Gracie is a senior studying Contemporary Dance and Apparel Merchandising and has taken advantage of every opportunity to engage and excel during her undergraduate studies, not only dancing and choreographing for IU concerts, but also dancing for professional companies in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

The Provost’s Award consists of a collaborative effort between students and mentors. Students are nominated by professors and then selected by a committee of faculty members. The award was created in 2010 to recognize exceptional student work and the importance of undergraduate research and creative activity. This is the second time in four years that a student from Contemporary Dance has won in the category of Performing & Creative Arts.

Gracie was nominated by Associate Professor and Director of Contemporary Dance at IU, Elizabeth Shea, who speaks highly of her portfolio. What sets Gracie’s work apart is her professional experience.

“As a dancer, I’m researching every time I walk into the studio. Dance is about constant growth and development not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well,” said Gracie.


Gracie Black in Hot Dust (obscured galaxies), choreography by Elizabeth Shea

Gracie has worked continuously on her craft throughout her four years at IU. For the past two summers she was accepted into the Hubbard Street Summer Intensive in Chicago, where she familiarized herself with the repertoire of the company.

“This is a national, highly rigorous audition process, and Ms. Black is the only student during my 17-year tenure at Indiana University to be accepted into this program, not once, but twice,” said Shea.

At IU, students participate in the performances as a company, dancing repertory by professional choreographers, including works by Kyle Abraham, Andrea Miller, Elizabeth Shea, and Nyama McCarthy-Brown. In 2016 while taking part in a piece by Shea, “The Rise of Otherness”, Gracie together with the other dancers in the set had the opportunity to perform at the faculty concert on IU’s Ruth N. Halls stage, and in Philadelphia and New York City as guest dancers.

The Rise of Otherness, Liz Shea, Winter Dance 2017 (Photo by Jeremy Hogan)

The Rise of Otherness, choreography by Elizabeth Shea | Photo by Jeremy Hogan

“The Rise of Otherness” was also presented again at Indiana University as a Themester project. When one of the original dancers was not available, Shea then invited the director of Phoenix Rising Dance Company, Justin Sears-Watson to fill in. After performing together he invited Gracie and fellow student Jay Man to be guest dancers with Phoenix Rising. They traveled to New York City over winter break to perform the piece “Speakeasy” with the company at the Association for Performing Arts Professionals (APAP).

“Gracie, through hard work, commitment, intelligence, talent, and a strong sense of community, has taken advantage of every opportunity she was offered during her time at IU.  I have no doubt she will make an impact in the professional dance world,” said Shea.

Please join us in congratulating Gracie Black! Her newest work will be performed this weekend at our final production of the season, New Moves: Student Choreographers’ Showcase. Friday at 7:30 pm and Saturday at 2 pm in the Wells-Metz Theatre.

Sara Cruz is a graduate student in the Arts Administration program in IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She is a Marketing Assistant for the Theatre this year, and brings great talent and enthusiasm to the job.

Sara is from Brazil and earned a bachelor’s degree in music from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC before coming to IU.

About IU Theatre Department

Welcome to the 7th & Jordan blog. This blog is a peek behind the curtain at the productions and people at Indiana University's Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.
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