When asked about the highlights of her time at Colgate thus far, senior Evelyn Cox does not have to think twice before saying that Shock has been “one of the best parts of [her] Colgate experience.” Cox joined Shock, a primarily jazz style dance group that incorporates elements of ballet, contemporary and modern dance, the fall of her first year at Colgate. A life-long dancer familiar with the competitiveness of dance auditions, Cox was drawn to Shock’s uplifting and empowering spirit.
“[The audition] was a warm and welcoming environment, which is rare in the dance world, and I can honestly say I felt instantly at home. [Shock aims] to include bodies of all skill levels, meaning that anyone who wants to can join,” Cox said. “We also like to keep a super upbeat vibe to all of our pieces — think a really big, choreographed dance party. It really is just as fun as it sounds.”
In her third year co-leading Shock alongside seniors Estelle Kelty and Bella DeLeon, Cox emphasized the role body positivity plays in informing Shock’s choreography.
“In fall of 2018, Shock actually performed to a compilation of songs surrounding the theme of empowerment. We aimed to convey the message of empowerment by taking up large amounts of space with our bodies and performing our choreography with a fearless and confident attitude,” Cox said. “There is truly something so empowering about using dance to get in touch with your body, especially when surrounded by such an inclusive dance environment and community.”
At the heart of Colgate’s dance community is the array of student-led groups which, according to Cox, are to thank for fostering the campus’s vibrant dance community.
“… Colgate does not have a very serious dance curriculum,” Cox said. “The department is underfunded and understaffed, and unfortunately, there is no dance major or minor, meaning the primary outlet for dance at Colgate is through student-led groups. Ultimately, the success of the dance world here at Colgate lies on the backs of its dance groups and leaders which is part of why my involvement in Shock has been incredibly meaningful to me.”
While Shock has given Cox the opportunity to continue her dance career at a collegiate level, she added that with the guidance of her fellow leaders, Shock has also become a space for growth as both a dancer and a leader.
“When I first started as a leader and choreographer in the fall of my sophomore year, I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to live up to the choreographers before me and was unsure of myself as both a dancer, choreographer and leader,” Cox said. “Thanks to the help of my incredible senior co-leaders, my confidence as a leader and dancer has grown to new heights. Our leadership team has grown to add two more incredible dancers, Rachel Dames and Madeline Graham, who never fail to inspire me.”
In the midst of COVID-19 regulations and social distancing requirements, Shock’s practices, performances and rehearsals look much different than they traditionally would. The group meets exclusively over Zoom which, according to Cox, can occasionally create an uncomfortable dancing experience.
“Currently, Shock meets biweekly over Zoom with asynchronous choreography and stretching sent out to our members on the off weeks. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, Zoom dance is weird and incredibly awkward at times! But we believe it’s better than nothing,” Cox said. “In this dark and strange time, we wanted to keep up with Shock to give our dancers a sense of normalcy that I know we have all been lacking.”
Despite the introduction of obstacles in the face of pandemic regulations, Shock and other dance groups plan to proceed with Dancefest — virtually.
“The current plan, as organized by Groove Dance Group, is to make a professional music video compilation of all the dance groups and stream it in December while we are all home for break,” Cox said. “Shock is currently working on a piece over Zoom right now and we look forward to being able to share it with the rest of the Colgate community.”
When reflecting on what elements of Shock have impacted her most, Cox suggested that her co-leaders and fellow 50 plus dancers have been integral in creating Shock’s uplifting, tight-knit community.
“I am thankful for all that my dancers have taught me along the way about being a leader, about connecting with others, and about time management. We grew the Shock community into what it is today, and I am so proud to have done so with the incredible Shock leadership by my side,” Cox said. “It has been an honor to have come across so many passionate, interesting and diverse people in the group and it has been such a pleasure to get to know everyone through the context of dance and movement.”