Colgate University Department of Theater Tackles Dance Nation

Sasha Balasanov, Maroon-News Staff

Dance Nation is a daring, raw play written by Clare Barron in 2018, that will be performed this fall by Colgate students and community members. The production follows a competitive dance team made up of ambitious middle school girls who are going through what most argue is one of the most turbulent and difficult times in a girl’s life. It will force you to reflect on your repressed middle school memories, laugh, cry and cringe.

The Colgate Theater Department chooses experimental and contemporary plays, such as Dance Nation, that explore themes that are relevant but difficult to communicate and describe. Bringing common experiences to light and destigmatising shared journeys in navigating the transition to womanhood is extremely important, and this performance does just that. 

This performance has been in the works for about two months, with actors and dancers rehearsing nearly every day. Professionals in the theater world and Colgate alike have played essential roles in this performance by contributing their talent and showing the cast how a performance is set in the world outside of college. 

“At the Colgate Theater Department, we believe in the idea of modeling what really makes theater for our cast members,’’ director April Sweeney said. 

The set, complete with a toilet and a dance studio, is versatile and creative in how it transforms the stage into an entrancing new world. The time and dedication poured into this performance is evident in the atmosphere of the theater. 

Three actors—senior Andrea Cornelius, sophomore Josephine Finney, and junior Elaine Wang—gave insight into what this world of performance is like and what the cast has been working towards during one of their taxing tech rehearsals. 

“The process of tech week can be very stressful; especially at Colgate when we have so much other work to do, but having this creative outlet is so much fun that even when we do have a lot of other work it’s really nice to just kind of escape,’’ senior Andrea Cornelius said. 

Working on the show, the actors have been challenged to approach the play in a unique way to get in touch with their characters and see things from their perspectives. 

“April does a good job of, when you’re on stage doing your scene, asking you a lot of questions about why you think your character is doing something so you have to craft a whole story about your character working off of their lines. It’s made me respect any actor ever because there is so much more than what you see on the stage,” Finney said. 

While Dance Nation is intentionally uncomfortable and jarring, there is much more beneath the surface. 

“I hope that audience members can get something more than the tension of the play because on a surface level this might be weird and awkward, but it is important for people to think deeper about why the playwright and stage director decided to portray things this certain way,” Wang said.

The opening night of this performance will be Friday, November 1, and run until November 2. Performances will take place at 7 p.m. each day, with a 2 p.m. matinee on November 2. Admission is free, but it is recommended that viewers register ahead of time through Eventbrite. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to reflect back on challenging yet crucial once in a lifetime journey into adulthood.