Jessica Lorenzini, a senior early childhood education major, introduced Irish dancing to Ayo, Cedarville’s dance org, when she was a sophomore at Cedarville.
When choreographing an Irish dance, Lorenzini said she starts with the basics. She uses either skipping or sevens, which are the basic steps Irish dancers use to count their feet movements.
Choreographing for Ayo
These two basic steps are the foundation for the dances Lorenzini creates for Ayo showcases.
“Working with Ayo has been fun,” Lorenzini said. “Dance is a lot to me, it tends to be the place I fit in best. Freshman year I was not involved, but spring semester I went to the (Ayo) showcase. To be honest, I was thrilled to watch dance but less so when I realized that it was mostly all hip-hop, contemporary, jazz and lyrical. I thought that I could do something about that.”
Lorenzini said she offered to choreograph an Irish piece for the next semester. Since that time she has choreographed a piece for each Ayo showcase.
Lorenzini said she enjoys teaching the dancers Irish dance.
“This is my fourth dance with Ayo, of which only two dancers have ever had background in Irish,” Lorenzini said in an email. “They have been great in dealing with me and learning so much in such a short period of time.”
Emily Criswell, Lorenzini’s roommate sophomore year, said Lorenzini filled a gap in Ayo that needed to be filled.
“I was really glad when she started choreographing for Ayo,” Criswell said in an email. “She’s very passionate about Irish dance, and she couldn’t do everything she wanted to here like she could at home. Ayo didn’t even have Irish dancing in the program, so she had to step up there and start it herself, which was very impressive to me.”
A balancing act
Lorenzini balances both dance classes and dance practice while in college. She said she takes dance classes in Dayton and dances two to four hours every day. Though she said she can’t compete often, being a full-time student and a student teacher keeps her busy.
Lorenzini said she has danced in the regional competition, called Oireachtas, twice and is proud of her accomplishments.
“I did not place, but it is an invitational competition,” she said in an email. “Something that I have been a little bit proud of is the fact that I have been able to take Irish dance classes every year.”
Lorenzini said she was first introduced to Irish dance through a friend, but her grandmother ultimately encouraged her to learn Irish dancing.
Lorenzini said she has a passion for dance and looks to God for her strength and motivation.
“I keep telling myself to keep going is that God (has) a plan and that it(’s) way better than anything I could ever have planned,” Lorenzini said. “How I stay motivated is really the same thing: knowing that God has everything in control when things get rough, which is more often than not.”
More than a dance
Meredith Blair, a senior early childhood education major and classmate of Lorenzini, said Lorenzini has a heart for people.
“Jessica is truly the spice of our senior early childhood education class,” Blair said in an email. “No matter where you see Jessica, you’ll see her dancing or laughing, sometimes both.”
Olivia Van Wyck, a senior molecular and cellular biology major, said Lorenzini’s hard work extends beyond her love of dance and teaching to everything she does, including her job at The Hive.
“She is so happy and has such a good attitude about everything,” Van Wyck said in an email. “What I most admire about Jessica is how hard she works. Not only does she work very hard in her school work, but she also works very hard at dance, which she is extremely good at, as well as her job here on campus.”
Lorenzini said her passions for dance and people are best emulated through her favorite verse, Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
“I enjoy that verse because it reminds me that God chose me, and there is nothing I could do to get into his good graces,” Lorenzini said. “I have to rethink how the spiritual world is different than the works-driven ideas of this place we are in.”
Shaune Young is a junior English major and arts & entertainment writer for Cedars. She enjoys outside reading and exploring the gloriously rich culture and history of the United States.
Cedars writer Susanna Edwards contributed to this story.