Dance Majors Want Their Audience to Speak, Thrive, and Be Alive

Colorado State University Dance presents the Dance Major Capstone Concert: Speak, Thrive, Be Alive on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the University Dance Theatre.

This end of semester concert provides graduating dance majors a chance to showcase their choreography, performance, and production talents in this capstone event.

The fall show, entitled Speak, Thrive, Be Alive, features the performance and choreography work of Alex Ader, Kayla Banks, Megan Adams, Shannon Henderson, and Bonnie Tomson. The concert is an opportunity for graduating seniors in the dance program to display all that they have learned from the last four years. Each dancer presents a solo performance, as well as a group piece, and is involved with all of the production aspects of the concert from start to finish.

Collectively, the dancers are asking the audience to think about their daily words and actions. “We encourage one to speak lovingly but boldly, to thrive with what is given to you, and to create new paths by being lively with everything you encounter,” they’ve expressed.

Tickets are *no charge for CSU students, $10 for youth (under 18), and $20 for the public. Ticket may be purchased at

Dancer Major Bios

The five seniors have studied under CSU Dance faculty including Judy Bejarano, Chung-Fu Chang, Jane Slusarski-Harris, Carol Roderick, Sayaka Karasugi-Ruggles, and Lisa Morgan, with participation in masterclasses led by Shih Kun-Chen, Joan Lazarus, Jennifer DePalo-Peterson, Yunyu Wong-Taipei, Hsin-Yu Kao, and many others.

BonnieBonnie Tomson, who was born and raised in Franktown, Colo., decided that dance would be her lifelong career at the age of three. She has been a member of the CSU Tour Dance Company under the direction of Professor Chung-Fu Chang, traveling throughout the state as part of the company’s outreach program for K-12 schools. Tomson directed with CSU Theatre’s “Kids Do It All” program for three consecutive summers, teaches weekly classes with A Dance Place in Windsor, Colo., and dances with Dança Nova.

Tomson will receive her B.A. in Dance and a minor in Arts Leadership and Administration through the LEAP institute in May of 2016. After graduation, Tomson intends on using knowledge from her advocacy and arts management classes to further the local dance community, as well auditioning for local companies. Tomson wishes to obtain her M.F.A. with the intent to teach dance at the collegiate level.

Tomson’s group piece is the visual representation of elements that make up the environment, both natural and manufactured. Tomson’s solo depicts human interaction within this environment, delving into the human perception that elements exist within that environment that are outside the realm of anyone’s own control. Tomson hopes to convey that there is much to be learned from the basic components of life, whether it’s finding inspiration from the environment, living and adapting with change, or evolving from what has come before.

AlexAlex Ader, who is from Conifer, Colo., started dancing at the age of the three. She choreographed two works for CSU’s 2015 Fall and 2014 Spring Dance Concerts. Outside of CSU, Ader has taught ballet and tap at Canyon Concert Ballet and has helped supervise the local 4H dance team.

In Dec., Ader will receive her B.A. in Dance and a minor in Arts Leadership and Administration through the LEAP institute. After graduating, Ader will choreograph and teach for local studios with the hope of owning her own dance studio and Christian dance company, expressing her own beliefs and passion for God through her choreography.

Ader’s group piece, “Phoenix,” demonstrates how negative actions and choices can turn life, individually and corporately, into rubble and ruin. The dance shows that only once a decision to change or turn from those negative actions, can new life be found. Ader’s solo piece exhibits the belief that life’s path is laid out before each individual, and while there is a set path, there are many intricacies and mysteries along the way. Ader’s piece looks to find peace through that journey of uncertainty while relying on faith to show the way forward.

KaylaKayla Banks grew up in Aurora, Colo. starting her formal ballet training at Grandview High School. Banks has performed in Labanotation, restaged by Yunyu Wang, dean of General Education at Taipei National University of the Arts; Swan Lake, restaged by Richard Wacko, professor of Ballet at the University of Utah; and has performed in original works choreographed by Shih Kun-Chen and Hsin-Yu Kao, dancers at Compagnie Käfig; as well as excerpts from Rooms by Anna Sokolow.

While at CSU, Banks has performed as a speaker and dancer for IMPACT Dance Company under the direction of Judy Bejarano. Banks also teaches pre-ballet and musical theatre at Canyon Concert Ballet, and has worked for the Bohemian Nights Foundation in Fort Collins.

Banks has participated in research symposiums such as: MURALS, CURC (Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity), and the Diversity Symposium. Banks’ involvement goes beyond being a dancer having also been a costume designer for CSU Theatre productions and is the student production assistant for the Dance Studio.

A recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, Banks studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, focusing her studies in Spanish and the cultural dances of Salsa and Bachata at the Universidad de Andres Bello. Before Chile, Banks danced in Germany with the Art Zen Dance Company, taking classes with Arne Kurzbach.

Upon graduating in Dec., Banks hopes to continue traveling to teach dance and choreograph. In addition, Banks has the desire to move to N.Y. or Calif. to pursue modeling, acting, and dancing, and has hopes to one day return to Germany to audition for the Pina Bausch Dance Co.

Banks’ ensemble piece “La Noche Más Larga” explores the experiences of the night life of young adults. The piece displays sensuality, reliability and vulnerability. Her solo piece is about birth and rebirth.

MeganMegan Adams grew up in Denver, Colo., studying dance since the age of five, dancing competitively around the state, as well as traveling to Los Angeles and study with several world-renowned teachers and choreographers at the EDGE Preforming Arts Center. Adams also notes collaboration, particularly early in her training, as immensely positive and inspiring for her future dance career.

Adams has also performed at an NFL halftime show at Sports Authority Field and opened for the Radio City Rockettes at the Pepsi Center.

While at CSU, Adams expanded her dance technique to include modern dance, character, improvisation, choreography, and the Vaganova ballet method, as well as, the pedagogy style of teaching. After graduation, Adams hopes to pursue a career as a professional dancer, specifically in jazz, lyrical, and contemporary fields.

For her senior capstone group piece, “Dark,” Adams emphasizes “everyone’s dark side,” by accentuating the creepiness and uniqueness of everyone’s own shadows. Maintaining the theme of inner reflection, Adams’ solo piece, “Broken into Better Shape,” tells her personal journey through pain, demonstrating the many vulnerabilities and uncertainties in life and how those often translate into a sense of brokenness and disarray. Yet the piece is still hopeful as Adams creates a testament to her own courage, showing how life experiences turned her fragments into a better version of herself.

ShannonShannon Henderson grew up in Eagle, Colo., and started dancing at the age of four. Henderson has been involved in the Vail International Dance Festival in Beaver Creek, Colo., performance at the Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colo., and participated in the Colorado Ballet Summer Intensive annual summer show. Henderson has danced with noted dancers Jonathan Royce Windham and Tyler Peck.

Graduating in May of 2016 with Bachelor’s Degrees in Dance and Journalism, Henderson hopes to explore different cultures’ dance styles, while further strengthening her own technique and fulfilling her dreams of traveling the world.  She also hopes to open her own dance studio.

For her group dance, Henderson’s choreography symbolizes the conflict between the desire to have authentic, meaningful relationships, and how shallow perceptions and judgments of others inhibit the process. In the same vein, she’ll perform her solo in conjunction with a spoken word performance by astronomer Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “The Most Astounding Fact;” a speech given by Dr. Tyson on how interconnected all the inhabitants of earth are with the rest of the universe.

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