Dancefest Breaks It Up

Kate Preziosi

On Saturday, April 12, at 6 p.m., the Colgate Memorial Chapel was tranquil as the last of the daylight streamed through the windows. One hour later, not an inch of seating space was open as students and faculty alike tried to find places to stand wherever there was room. Before the performers took the stage for Dancefest Spring 2008, audience members were standing on chairs in the Chapel foyer peering in.

“Dancefest: Breakdance, Not Hearts” opened around 7:30 p.m. with a kick-off number choreographed by Stephanie McClellan titled “Seventeen Years.” She and three other members of Groove performed with incredible energy and enthusiasm that set the tone for the entire night.

Second to perform in the show was Shock, a group that focuses mainly on jazz and theatre dance. They performed two numbers, the first being a “Madonna Medley” and the second called “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” Sophomore Lindsey Simpson and junior Katrina Jensen are co-leaders of the group, which is now looking forward to its fifth Dancefest appearance this fall.

“Since we’ve had some people dancingin the group for two years now, we have been able to choreograph more challenging dances,” Simpson said. “The final result is really exciting and certainly rewarding for the entire group. The support from the student body also plays a huge part in making Dancefest as exciting as itis for all of the dancers. The positive feedback we’ve gotten from so many people has really contributed to our development as a group.”

Next to hit the stage was the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) with their co-ed “Merengue Medley.” Nine couples performed the vibrant number alternating between dancing with one another and dividing the stage in a competition between the sexes. Later, nine women from LASO performed an equally lively piece called “Sambao.”

Groove followed with “Oh Hey,” the first of two dances throughout the night. This was the final Dancefest for many of the performers, some of which have been dancing in the show for several years. Senior Abby Meeks began dancing with Groove in the second semester of her freshman year after seeing the talent at Dancefest in the previous show.

“Dancefest has entirely transformed my Colgate experience,” she said. “It’s going to be really tough to recreate that positive outlet in the real world.When you share something as emotionally charged as Dancefest with a group of people, it creates lasting bonds.This past winter, a whole group of Groove and Kuumba alums came to the show unexpectedly minutes before it began. That was one of the greatest moments. I’m definitely making it a top priority to make it back to Colgate for future Dancefests.”

The African Student Union Dance Group also contributed to the performance with “Mama’s Belly Dance,” a number that celebrated both the movement of the individuand the unity of the group. Senior Kelly Dolan decided to dance in the number after hearing about it from senior choreographers Courtney Richardson and Theodora Guliadis. It was her first and last appearance in Dancefest.

“In my fifteen years of cheerleading I have performed in front of thousands and thousands of fans during halftimeperformances of bowl games,” Dolan said. “Nothing compares to a venue filled with your friendscheering you on. When you’re on stage there’s no time to be nervous or self-conscious, it’s all about having fun.”

Other groups to perform were the Colgate Ballet Company, the new all-male group called Trouble, the Bellydancing Club, SACC, the Caribbean Student Association and the Kuumba Dance Troupe. Each group contributed equally to this beloved Colgate tradition, which never fails to bring together the students and faculty in a celebration of the different cultures and talents that this campus has to offer.

“It’s the best feeling to peek out at the audience before the show starts and see people standing up in the back, kids sitting on windowsills,” said Meeks. “Dancefest really highlights our personalities. Oftentimes it’s more entertaining to see that quiet kid from class randomly bust out his moves in the chapel than to watch something that’s polished and technical.”