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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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An inside look at putting together the annual fall PAC Big Show

An inside look at putting together the annual fall PAC Big Show


The University of Mary Washington’s Performing Arts Club Big Show took place Saturday Nov. 19, and Sunday Nov. 20, in Dodd Auditorium. PAC performed 20 dance numbers with many memorable and notable performances. The dancers kept the crowd engaged the entire time as they performed with energy, passion and enthusiasm throughout the entire show. The changing moods and tones from performance to performance also kept the crowd on the edge of their seat guessing what would happen next.

Performance styles ranged from upbeat to jazzy to action-packed street parties and everything in between. There was definitely something for everyone that attended. It didn’t matter whether you were looking for a slow contemporary dance that made you think about life, or a straight up dance party on stage, these girls and guys brought it all to the stage. The most notable performance was in the middle of the show, called “The iPod Shuffle.”

This performance, choreographed by Shanita Mitchell, was envisioned and executed very well. The dance involved what seemed like half of PAC at times all on stage at once. The performance had a multitude of songs, anywhere from Taylor Swift to Evanescence and everything in between. It really felt like a party up on stage and the crowd laughed along the whole time.

To get a better idea of what it is like to be a member of PAC, I talked to long-time member and officer, Erynn Sendrick, to find out.

Q: It looked like a lot of work went into this show. How much preparation went into this performance?

A: “We prep for our Big Shows all semester. We have try outs the second weekend of the semester, and then we rehearse at least once a week, sometimes more per dance up until a week before the show. During that week, we are in Dodd everyday from about 6 p.m. until 10 at night working on spacing, lighting and just the overall look of the show. Besides the dancers enormous efforts that everyone sees pay off during the performance, there are choreographers, club officers and the Dodd tech crew who put in countless hours and tremendous heart into our show. Without each member of our 85 person club and all those who are apart of the Dodd staff, our show would not be the same at all.”

Q: What was going through your mind as you performed In Front of a big crowd?

A: “I’m sure anyone who performs in front of an audience would tell you that the nervous feeling you get right before you step out never quite goes away, but it’s always a thrill to see all your hard work pay off.”

Q: How do you guys prepare right before going on stage?

A:  “I think everyone has their own ritual to prepare to perform. As a club, we have a group stretch, a massage circle, and, I guess, what you could call a huddle where we all put our hands in and shout “5, 6, 7, 8, go PAC!” like an hour before the show.”

Q: What is your favorite kind of dance to perform?

A: “I personally really like to be in contemporary pieces, which I think are well represented in PAC because of how many dancers were have that come from a studio background. But I think, because PAC is open and accepting of anyone who wants to be a part of the dance community, we usually have a nice variety of pieces.”

Q: What was your favorite piece throughout the entire show?

A: “I don’t know that I could pick a favorite from the show. I think every piece is essential to the overall production.”

Q: Tell us about PAC, what is the culture and attitude of this club when it tries to accomplish something?

A: “Performing Arts Club is home to me. I seriously love PAC, and I think it is the best. We are an 85 person club, but everyone is involved, and to the degree to which they want to be. We are all here because we love to dance, and so we have that mutual understanding of each other and what our common goals are in relation to PAC. I think many people understand and embody PAC’s mission of building an accepting and inclusive dance community meant to foster relationships to last – many would call PAC family. We do more than just dance. Everyone has friends in the club, and new people are always joining so you are always making more, and the alum are involved, and we have bondings and semi-annual events – it’s really a lot, but it’s the best club you could ever join.”

Q: What does dance mean to you? How has it changed your life?

A: “I honestly haven’t been dancing that long in comparison to most people. I started in seventh grade, and I took time off in high school, but I think I’ve appreciated dance most since I have joined PAC. It’s that sense of community and belonging that everyone is looking for and just finds in different places. Dance is about expression and art and movement, and through that, we are all connected.”

Q: What would you say to inspire more people to pursue dance, and to join PAC?

A: “I guess I’d say what I say to everyone who walks by our at Club Carnival, “Do you like to dance?”It’s really as simple as that. We have people in our club who have been dancing since they were two and other’s who heard that question on the first Wednesday they were in college and were like sure, yeah. Everyone is coming from a different place, but we all come together because of dance and because of PAC.”