Second Virtual Dancefest Features Live Performances


Sivi Colberg

In accordance with restrictions on social gatherings due to University and state guidelines, Colgate’s spring 2021 Dancefest was conducted via livestream on Saturday, April 24. A combination of live and prerecorded routines, this spring’s Dancefest marked the second virtual performance in the tradition’s 23-year history

Groups of 20 dancers or fewer had the opportunity to perform live on the Colgate Memorial Chapel stage, while larger groups submitted prerecorded video performances in conformity with social distancing regulations. Unlike last semester, groups were permitted to rehearse in person this spring, but given practice limitations, each group organized only one number whereas in past years groups have performed twice. 

According to sophomore Groove member Madison Motroni, although Colgate’s updated COVID-19 restrictions simplified the rehearsal process, the revised regulations impeded rehearsal time.  

“Because of the new rules, we were able to run practices almost exactly the same way we did last year,” Motroni said. “We all had to wear masks during practice and were asked to choreograph formations that were spread out and as socially distanced as possible. Due to these social distancing issues, there were only two dance studios that we were able to schedule practices in rather than the normal four or five we have to choose from.”

According to sophomore Doin’ the Damn Thing (DDT) member Jane Ogden, consistent individual practice was critical to ensuring a strong in-person group performance. Weekly in-person rehearsals were a reminder to make every practice count, Ogden added. 

Groove Dance Troupe co-leader and Dancefest co-organizer senior Abby Rathmann appreciated the sense of community fostered through in-person rehearsals this semester. According to Rathmann, Groove capitalized on in-person practice time, which offered dancers stress relief from COVID-19-related uncertainty.

Rathmann noted that in-person rehearsals streamlined the choreography process between herself and Groove co-captain junior Audrey Ponder, who choreographed the group’s performance collectively this semester.

“I think this approach allowed us to have a more cohesive looking dance, and also help create a better sense of community among Groove, since we would all be learning the new choreography together,” Rathmann said.

Although regulations have eased since last semester, Rathmann said virtual Dancefest remained difficult to plan. Compared to last fall’s first virtual Dancefest, which featured a few performances, the spring event involved the majority of dance groups on campus which required additional coordination. 

“We wanted it to feel as normal as possible, but still follow all COVID-19 restrictions,” Rathmann said. “[Livestreamed Dancefest] was something new to everyone, so we created a Dancefest Committee this semester comprised of captains of multiple dance groups to help us plan and have some new perspectives.” 

Rathmann said advertising and generating excitement for virtual Dancefest posed an additional challenge, so she and co-organizers created posters and utilized social media platforms to spread the word. Over 240 audience members tuned in via livestream on Saturday. 

“I think this semester was a lot more successful than last semester since we had a better grasp on how to make a virtual Dancefest work,” Rathmann said. “I think it was really important to have Dancefest this semester since it is always such a uniting event for the Colgate community to come together and enjoy.”