By Andrea Nealon
It’s 9:15 on a Tuesday night in Goolrick Hall, and although the building closes in less half an hour, you can hear a symphony of music, dance, and laughter coming from the dance studios in the back.
An employee pops his head into the studio to let the dancers know they only have a few minutes until closing time.
“Ok, we’ll be out soon,” says Krista Dray, the choreographer. “Just one more time through!”
Then, Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory” explodes once more from the stereo and the girls start from the top, ready to dance full out.
Among many students who are involved in dance here at Mary Washington, senior Marija Ozolins is rehearsing for the Performing Arts Club’s annual spring performance.
“It’s very exciting,” she says. “I love all of my dances because they’re all different styles.”
A member of PAC since her freshmen year, Marija will be dancing in three pieces during the performance. The choreography for each of the dances is done through collaboration between students and alumni.
Ozolins, who was born in Madagascar but grew up in Tanzania, has been dancing all her life; however, she didn’t start taking formal classes until the eighth grade.
When she first auditioned for PAC her freshman year, Ozolins admits that she was a little nervous.
“I wasn’t sure I’d make it,” says Ozolins, an International Affairs major. “I wasn’t sure what to expect because I knew a lot of the girls who auditioned have been training since they were 3 or 4.”
Ozolins, who began her formal training in ballet, modern, and afro-centric movement at the age of 13, studied at the Center for Dance in Blacksburg, Virginia. She trained under the direction of Carol Crawford-Smith, a former dancer for New York’s Dance Theater of Harlem.
“I think I’m best at afro-centric,” she says, “but my favorite is modern.”
At 16 Ozolins attended the American Dance Festival at Duke University. For a month she took classes and attended performances by company students and teachers trained by such legends as Judith Jameson and Alvin Ailey.
In high school, Ozolins was selected to participate in Ujima, a professional dance company that trained and rehearsed in her hometown studio. Ujima, a Swahili word meaning “collective work and responsibility,” is an adult professional company with approximately 8-10 dancers.
“I felt very privileged to be chosen, especially since they only take one or two dancers each year,” says Ozolins.
While she continues to take classes and perform with PAC, Ozolins also teaches workshops for PAC and the Virginia Ballet Company.
She reflects fondly on all of her various dance experiences, particularly those at Mary Washington. She claims that the opportunity to participate in dance through the Performing Arts Club has made her college experience much more fulfilling.
“A lot of my best friends I’ve met through PAC,” she says.
After the final twang of “Blaze of Glory” resonates in the dance studio, the girls, sweating and out of breath, gather their belongings and head out into the cool night air. With an air of confidence and excitement, they are ready to perform this weekend.
The spring performance, Beyond Falling, will be held Saturday, April 5th at 7:30p.m. and Sunday, April 6th at 2:00p.m in Dodd auditorium. It will run for approximately an hour and a half, and feature dance styles of ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, tap, and afro-centric movement. Because the dancers provide their own costumes and props, the entrance fees are $2 per student, and $5 per non-student. The Performing Arts Club is open to all students wishing to audition, regardless of dance background.