Students in the Elon Dance Company will get a taste of professional experience later this month, performing at the Semaine de la Danse Festival in Aurillac, France. Nine dancers, accompanied by professors Lauren Kearns and Karl Green, will perform their piece, “End Games,” as well as take classes with French choreographers and other dancers.

The festival will be an important opportunity for both the students and their professors, as they are representatives from the only United States university to be invited to attend the festival, according to Green.

Green’s idea to broaden the experiences of the dance program derived from a trip to France last summer, when he connected with a French choreographer and discussed a possible project. Eight months later, the dancers now only have a few weeks left until they depart.

“End Games” originated as a piece choreographed by Kearns, an associate professor of dance, in last year’s spring concert, “On That Note.” The piece is contemporary, with many of the dancers wearing motorcycle helmets at the suggestion of Green, who designed the costumes.

The group has been practicing since November, after holding auditions to recast the piece when five seniors graduated in May. Junior Mat D’Amico, one of the dancers, called the rehearsals “intense in the best possible way.”

Most practices start with a warm-up followed by repetitive rehearsal of the dance itself. But the group has recently discussed things to pack like outlet converters, as well as the money exchange and getting international cell phone plans, D'Amico said.

For a majority of the students, this will be their first experience performing abroad. The opportunity for experience and education has both students and staff riveted and ready.

“I will have the opportunity to take a class from international teachers and see pieces choreographed by artists from other countries,” said junior Kathleen Yahner. “The trip will enhance my understanding of the world of dance on a global scale.”

More than that, the trip to France will bring international exposure to Elon’s ever-expanding dance curriculum.

“The dance program is growing,” Green said. “It is a time to be represented. It’s a time for an international experience.”

Junior Helen Phelan said she thinks only good things will come of Elon’s invitation to the festival.

“It will make us stand out,” Phelan said. “We are a newer program. A piece in an international festival is good for promotion. Everything that brings us up a notch makes us better.”