The Lincoln University Dance Troupe will present the concert "4U" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Richardson Fine Arts Center on the university's campus.
However, this year holds special meaning to Theressa Ferguson, who has been the dance troupe director since 1976. The performance will serve as a dedication to four members who have since passed on.
"I looked through the years and then, as I started the fall semester, I thought about how I've lost so many great dancers and I thought, 'What can I do to honor them?'" Ferguson said. "It's hard for me because I call them my three sons and my sister. It's hard for me when I have to dedicate or do a tribute for a lost soul or a lost dancer, but there's also some joy in there because I had that time with them."
Those who will be honored include DeAndre Isom, who dedicated four years to the dance troupe and became well known for being a skilled choreographer.
Andrea "Cookie" Harris, who Ferguson described as a sister, had been with the dance troupe for 35 years taking their photos and recording video of their work. Ferguson said she was always there for them and last called her just to see how she was doing.
There's also Phillip Clemons III, who Ferguson nicknamed "Sir Phillip" because he often played the lead role on stage. After returning to Jefferson City, Ferguson recalls him saying he was where he was supposed to be: right by her side.
The last one honored is Charon Session, who Ferguson described as a determined dancer with a genuine smile. Ferguson said, the last time she and Session spoke, he told her, "I'm going to be the dancer that you know that I can be and that I will be."
"Charon has always loved to dance," said Cyrus Taylor, who grew up with Charon and will be performing as one of the principal dancers in the production. "He was dancing at a very young age. Charon and myself along with other youth from our church first danced together in 2005 under the direction of Mrs. Theressa Ferguson, and since then throughout the years, we both had been involved in the same activities."
The troupe will also add a special tribute dance to "Halo" by Beyonce in Session's memory and a candlelight ceremony for all four members during Sunday's afternoon performance, but Ferguson said each show will be a reflection of each member.
"They all have a special place in my heart and they will always be there," Ferguson added.
She described "4U" as an overall dedication, but said it is also a celebration of life.
"I think the audience has really enjoyed the pieces that we've done, pieces that have come from my dance recitals in the past and there will be some emotions, but there's also a lot of happiness and joy that's in it," Ferguson said.
"It's always exciting to see and to watch their growth," she said of her current dancers. "I'm really proud of them and the choreography."
All three of the performances of "4U" are free to the public. Shows will begin at 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:15 p.m. Sunday.