Dancefest Returns for its 25th Anniversary

Dancefest returned Friday to kick off a weekend Springfest celebrations and programming. After months of preparation by the 24 different student dance troupes, their endeavors were showcased during one of Colgate University’s most anticipated events. This Dancefest was unlike any other as it was held at the Sanford Field House, Colgate’s largest event venue, rather than the Colgate Memorial Chapel, where it has traditionally been held.

Senior Nataly Zarzuela performed or choreographed for the Colgate Ballroom Dancers, Latin American Dance, Melanated, Wolfpack and the Opening Number. Zarzuela also helped plan the event as a Dancefest committee member. Zarzuela described how proud she was of her community for helping to bring about the Dancefest and her feelings about her last time performing. 

“As a graduating senior, it was wonderful to participate in the Dancefest committee and have the opportunity to perform in as many dances as my body could handle. I loved that we all came together to celebrate 25 years of something that strengthens the community on this campus. A family who loves and supports you for all the effort and hard work you do, regardless of the outcome. There is a saying we have, ‘This is something made for us, by us,’ and we couldn’t be prouder.” 

Zarzuela continued to explain how her last Dancefest felt as a senior:

“In our last huddle, before we could leave Sanford, we shared stories of our beginnings with dance, how we could be ourselves in the spaces we occupied through dance at a PWI (predominantly white institution), and lastly, making connections that would last a lifetime. As seniors, this was our last Dancefest; it became too real that we were dipping out of there. Nonetheless, we are so excited about what the rising seniors will do to keep the audience and us on our toes.”

Sophomore Despina Anastasiou, a performer on the Colgate Dance Team, also shared her experience dancing and preparing for the event.

“Colgate’s 25th Dancefest was a great success. After the countless hours each dance group spent preparing for this day, I was thrilled to see such an amazing turnout. Dancefest remains one of the most exciting events Colgate hosts because of the incredible audience that supports it. It is the best feeling performing on the stage and hearing your friends cheer for you in the crowd. I am so grateful for everyone who came, and I am extremely proud of every dancer who worked extremely hard, escaped their comfort zone, and put on one of the best performances Colgate has ever seen.”

Sophomore Maya Schwartz, a member of the Shock Dance Group, detailed the preparation that went into the event.

“All the dancers work hard throughout the semester to prepare for Dancefest. Each group meets at least every week to improve their skills and learn the choreography. It’s always exciting to see what all the groups have been working on all semester at Dancefest because I only know what my groups have been practicing before then.” 

Schwartz also noted the diversity of performances at Dancefest and the effect she saw it have on the Colgate community.

“There are so many different dance styles, and watching everyone’s hard work pay off is so cool. I’m also always so happy and surprised by how many students come to watch. It’s super encouraging to dance in front of such a positive audience. I think it really brings the Colgate student body together!”

Sophomore Sophie Smyth, who choreographed and performed for the Colgate Ballet Company and performed for the Colgate Dance Team, addressed some of the difficulties the dance troupes faced with the venue change this year. 

“I definitely think the venue change greatly impacted the quality of Dancefest. It was not simply the venue change that impacted the performance but the stage itself. The surface of the stage was incredibly rough, making it challenging to dance on for our dress rehearsal, which is supposed to give dancers an idea of what the stage will be like on the day of the show. […] When Dancefest is held in the Chapel, it feels like a well-oiled machine. Everyone feels comfortable there and knows how the show is supposed to run. With the venue change, it was just simply a little chaotic,” Smyth said. 

Still, the differences in venue did not change Smyth’s feelings about performance art or Dancefest overall. 

“I would perform in Dancefest no matter what. It’s really an event that brings everyone together, and I love the energy it brings to the school. It’s also gratifying to showcase the hard work we’ve put into this semester. Leading up to Dancefest, we have rehearsals once or multiple times a week, depending on the group, and we take the semester to learn the dances and choose the perfect theme. Getting to experience being a choreographer for the Colgate Ballet Company, I’ve enjoyed the creative process of creating these dances, and it’s a surreal feeling to put forward your work for everyone. Overall, I think Dancefest is an essential event to Colgate’s campus, and I hope it continues to be a tradition for years to come.” 

First-year Osvaldo Lopez Carranza, an audience member attending his first Dancefest, remarked how delightedly surprised he was by his school’s energy, scale and talent. 

“I thought the Dancefest was awesome, it definitely exceeded my expectations. […] I loved the energy from the crowd. I constantly heard people cheer for their friends on stage and scream excitedly when they pulled off cool dance moves.”