Over seven hundred admirers showed up last Saturday, April 21 for the 2007 spring semester’s Dancefest, notably called the “annual blockbuster” by Colgate University. Fans arrived either on time or a bit early to ensure a seat; those arriving after 7 p.m. most likely sat on the window ledges, on a friend’s lap or shifted uncomfortably from leg to leg, standing the whole time.
The full, rowdy crowd was a true testimony to the exuberance and anticipation felt before the performance. Many brought signs; all brought their enthusiasm to cheer on Colgate’s multiple dance groups as they performed. The Chapel stage was lit up from roughly 7pm to 9pm as the Colgate students nimbly writhed and gyrated across the floor.
Dancefest takes place once per semester, usually near the end of the semester. It’s strategically placed for a number of reasons: to
encourage optimal attendance and to prevent student dancers from having to worry about impending final exams during the grind of rehearsals. Usually held on a Friday or Saturday night, times that might attract fewer attendees because of the social connotations of the weekend, the pews of the Chapel are always overflowing.
Dancefest is a unique opportunity for all of Colgate’s dance groups to come together and put on a fantastic show. This semester Groove, the Belly Dancing Club, CSA, Cloggers, LASO, SACC, LAD, Shock, Kuumba and the Ballet Club composed the glittering lineup.
Most of the student dance groups practice multiple days a week leading up to the event, depending on how many dances they’ll perform, rigorously putting in the hours to ensure a spotless, refined performance. At a school heavily dominated by appreciation of ice hockey or football, an opportunity to celebrate the art of dance is a fresh experience in contrast to checks and tackles.
Many of the students in Dancefest are veteran dancers, having danced their whole lives. Others have started dancing at Colgate. The latter speaks to the embracing, inviting nature of Colgate’s dance groups, namely, that nearly all the groups accept amateur or wholly inexperienced dancers. If you show a willingness to work hard, a bit of athleticism and a lot of heart, you’ll secure your spot on-stage. Groove, the student dance group in charge of organizing Dancefest, is the only group that holds auditions to determine their members.
“Most [groups] welcome anyone interested to participate in their dances,” junior dancer Lindsay Kleeman commented.
The students choreograph the dances, and last Saturday, the wider population of Colgate was given yet another opportunity to witness the often unpublicized talent and grace of Colgate dancers. Students danced to culturally traditional music, standard classics like “Fame” and “Moulin Rouge” and music often blasted in the Jug. The whole Chapel felt alive with motion and rhythmic cadence.
One of the only criticisms of Dancefest in the past has been its lengthy running time. Groups in the past performed two or more dances in an effort to maximize the short time they do have on stage. causing the performance to drag on. In an effort to combat too lengthy of a show, most groups have cut down the number of dances they perform.
Dancefest is not only about dance: it’s about expression, a joyful celebration of body and spirit, a sharing between artist and audience. On the importance and value of the ‘fest, the dancers spoke out.
“Dancefest gives different dance groups a chance to shine and convey their unique culture and skills to people through an art form that people enjoy watching and will respond to favorably,” Kleeman said. “It’s overall a fun, educational, and culturally enlightening experience.”
It’s an escape from the hum-drum of the regular Colgate scene; it’s surely an escape from the sweaty bumping and grinding that is dance at the Jug. As usual, the Colgate student dance groups have floored the wider population with their zealous footwork and rhythm.