Red-clad dancers warm up in a mirrored studio on the second level of Chapman University’s Sandi Simon Center for Dance.
It may appear routine, but it’s the end of one era and the beginning of another.
The dance students are rehearsing for the last Chapman Celebrates performances, which is Feb. 10 and 11 at Musco Center for the Arts.
Chapman’s signature gala has raised more than $40 million for scholarships in the last 40 years. The Broadway-style show features singing, dancing and musical performances from College of Performing Arts students.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the dancers were in the last production, held in 2019. And they are the last group of students who will participate in Chapman Celebrates.
At the same time, they and incoming classes can use the new Sandi Simon Center for Dance, which will officially open in March.
And there is another full-circle element – several of the performers received the Chapman Celebrates talent scholarship, which stems from the funds raised by the event.
“This is my first time being in the new space,” says dance major Remington Christensen ’24. “So it’s just a good combination of events because I’m getting to do Chapman Celebrates for the first time, which is extremely exciting.”
He says scholarship funds made it possible for him to attend Chapman.
“It’s given me the opportunity to continue my passion,” says Christensen, who is from Pendleton, Oregon. “I don’t have to worry about working with two or three jobs, because I have the scholarship and can focus on school.”
Dance major Kevin Ivins ’24, who is from the south side of Chicago, was in a similar situation.
“Chapman was one of my dream schools,” he says. “The scholarship just really helped my family.”
He says Chapman representatives told him, “we want you to focus on your education and not use money or financial stability as the No. 1 reason you can’t come to this school.”
Fullerton resident David Burn ’26 grew up wanting to attend Chapman. He also received the talent scholarship.
“I’m so very appreciative and grateful,” he says. “I’m excited to be a part of the show that gave me this opportunity.”
Dance major Valentina Marcano ’24 says there were not many college dance programs “that offer the range of opportunities that Chapman does.”
Like her dance classmates, finances were a challenge – but she still wanted to go to Chapman. She got an academic scholarship.
“Everything that’s gone into Chapman Celebrates has helped students in my position,” says Marcano, who is from Goodyear, Arizona.
She was cast in the 2022 Chapman Celebrates production, which was canceled because of the pandemic.
“I learned the first minute and a half, two minutes of the piece,” she says. “And that was a big challenge last year because that was coming straight from COVID … and then scratch that, we’re done – there’s not going to be a show.”
When the 2023 production took shape, she decided to participate.
After the show ends, says Christensen, he’ll have the camaraderie and memories.
“(Seeing) how much work we put into make that performance is what I treasure, because it teaches me there’s so much more than the performance.”