Each semester, the St. Mary’s Dance Club exhibits the dancing and choreography talents of its members with a show that proves to be one of the most anticipated events on campus. The fall 2011 dance show, “We Command You to Dance,” continued this legacy in St. Mary’s Hall Nov. 17-19.
The show featured multiple dance routines from 14 student choreographers whose styles ranged from ballet to hip-hop to belly dancing. Driving beats from techno and dub-step mixed with the more mellow sounds of folksy and sentimental guitar worked with each performance to express different emotions or concepts such as happiness, hope, or heartbreak, as well as themes like the seven deadly sins and the realities of growing up.
Senior Holly Callan, choreographer and Dance Club Secretary, focused on being completely light-hearted. “I just hoped that my girls would make the audience smile and feel happy through our dancing. I feel like we may have accomplished this, considering the head tilts and ‘awws’ that we got from our audiences,” she said. Her dance, entitled “Give Thanks,” was a sweet number in which the dancers moved gracefully to Feist’s “1234” and unzipped their colored hoodies at the end to reveal letters on the dancers’ shirts spelling out the title.
Some choreographers constructed a performance in such a way that their own personalities shone thorugh. “Drop It on the Floor,” an energetic routine choreographed by senior Carmen Fuentes, utilized bright colors and glow sticks to convey a feeling of unbridled fun. “Those who know anything about me know that I love neon, glow sticks, and techno, so it was very much my personality,” said Fuentes.
“We start to work on the routines around the beginning of a semester and we have about 8 practices to teach and learn a dance”, Fuentes added. “Each choreographer holds an official practice once a week and then most hold extra practices throughout the week for any one that might want to go over something before the next practice. I held many extra practices because my dance was challenging and there would be so many different movements going on at once. Although being in a dance is a big commitment, it is so much fun and it is rewarding to be a part of something so great.”
Jessica Chen, a sophomore, and Camille Campanella, a senior, choreographed international performances that included a martial arts fan dance and a belly dance, respectively. The belly dancers shimmied and jingled their coin skirts in time with the music, while the fan dance showcased kung-fu-style moves. “My dance was supposed to have a different kind of fans –the martial arts kind that make a loud noise when snapped open, but they didn’t come in time for the show,” said Chen. However, she says that did not stop the dancers from having fun with their performance: “My choreography is just a guideline, but they’re free to express themselves with it.”
Sophomore Laura Rodriguez, who also choreographed and performed several routines in the show, felt the dances turned out well. “My favorite dance was Melissa Griffith’s performance to the song California King Bed,” Rodriguez said. “It was just so powerful and it brought tears to my eyes every time.
It takes time to choreograph and it was a challenge to find the time each week. As a dancer in other pieces I had the responsibility to remember all the dances I was in. As the semester went on and classes began requiring more time I had to make an effort to not let them all blend in. however, no matter how much effort I had to put in, in the end it was worth it. I love to dance and to perform, its in my blood, so whenever I get the chance I put my whole self into it and I never regret it.”
The students in Theater, Film and Media Studies (TFMS) class “Introduction to African Dance,” as well as Muhammad “Footwerk” Ajala, a member of the Syce Game Dance Crew, provided intermission entertainment during different shows. A friend of Dance Club president, Maurielle Stewart, Ajala’s robotic dancing was met with a warm reception. “It was great to be able to call on him to fill the slot last minute when one of the groups was unable to attend. He is always a crowd pleaser and he fit into the show very well,” said Stewart.
All of the dancers’ skill and dedication paid off. Callan was especially impressed with the way Stewart balanced the difficult duty of putting the show together with other commitments. “[Stewart] deserves so much credit for the end result of the show. She never ceased to amaze me, always having so much on her plate as Student Trustee, but still managing to handle everything that needed to be done for our club,” she said.
Overall, Stewart was pleased with the Club’s efforts: “The dancers were very patient, considerate, supportive of one another and really put on a fantastic show. A few tech problems here and there but nothing to hinder the showcase of great talent from the dancers. Even if we had sound problems and no fancy lighting, the show would have been amazing because that’s just how strong the dances were.”
Next semester, Dance Club will again be holding auditions for performers and choreographers, and the spring dance show will feature senior spotlights. Students are encouraged to try out and join these talented dancers on stage.