Dance Collective is one of New College’s oldest and longest running clubs, with each semester’s show packed with friends, family and community members ready to enjoy the student-run event. The Fall 2023 Dance Collective showcase will take place Dec. 8 and 9, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the show starting at 7 in the Mildred Sainer Auditorium on the Caples campus. This semester’s show is spearheaded by Dance Collective dance and technology administrators: thesis students Anne McAllister, McKenna Mooney, Catalyst Copy Editor Gaby Batista, third-years Lydia Ubry and Isabelle Campesi, second-year Sarah York and first-year Sean Orenstein. The Catalyst spoke with various dancers participating in the showcase to get a sense of why they joined and what audience members can expect.
Of the five pieces to be performed, two are duets with powerful messages. Mooney and thesis student Nayelis Cardenas took the opportunity to tell their story as friends to Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan.” In this contemporary dance piece, the two friends use cardigans as props, as well as extensive floor choreography to enhance the storytelling they aim to share.
“The song illustrates a story of a back-and-forth relationship between two people who are romantically involved, but Elis and I wanted to demonstrate that dynamic in the context of a friendship,” Mooney stated. “The piece starts out with us as mirror images of one another, and we slowly become more interactive as individuals with a distinct dynamic rather than mere reflections of one another.”
“Our second year we watched a Dance Collective Spring showcase where we saw a contemporary duet with ‘Dog Days Are Over’ by Florence + the Machine and we thought, ‘We should do this together,’” Cardenas said. “We wanted to do Taylor Swift because of the emotions that are conveyed through the music and she’s an artist we both love and bond over.”
The second duet by second-year Lianna Paton and thesis student Colin Jefferis is another contemporary piece, entitled “All Things Go” and set to “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens.
“I was moved by the mantras of the song, letting go,” Paton described. “This semester feels like driving away and toward something of novelty. The piece is contemporary with Colin, who graciously learned this dance style in just one semester! I felt so inspired from both the song and the semester that I had to simply create. My body is my voice in dance, so I only hope to convey a story of movement up there.”
Jefferis described the dance to the Catalyst as a loose interpretation of a romantic relationship or of war, and after some laughs he stated, “Or both!”
Those who are loyal Dance Collective enjoyers may recognize a pattern in each showcase of at least one Kpop performance. This Fall is no different, with Mooney and Batista leading “Eve, Psyche, and The Bluebeard’s Wife” by Kpop girl group LE SSERAFIM. Both choreographers are big fans.
“When deciding which Kpop cover to do this semester, we landed on this song because it is catchy and upbeat but the meaning also reflects the need for women and femme-presenting people to be empowered at this particular point in time,” Mooney said. “Kpop dances in particular include intricate formations, quick transitions and fast choreography, which makes them so fun to perform and watch as an audience member. We are so excited to showcase what we’ve been working on!”
This 90s-inspired electronic dance song about going against the norm and breaking taboos in a world that seeks to control sends a powerful message along with equally powerful movements.
Another trend that exists within Dance Collective’s impressive number of shows throughout the years is the cultural dances made to showcase the choreographer’s heritage. This Fall, audience members will have the opportunity to see two cultural dances: Argentine/Turkish tango and Puerto Rican bomba.
In the Spring 2023 showcase, second-years Bilge Akyol and Demetre Seturidze choreographed and performed a traditional Azerbaijan dance. This time around, Akyol is bringing a fusion of Argentine and Turkish tango to New College.
“Bilge spent her summer in Argentina doing an internship with a study abroad network, I believe, and she really fell in love with the culture, as she’d told us,” thesis student and dancer Michael Bolesh said. “She came back and asked me a few days into the semester, ‘Would you like to dance tango?’ It’s really interesting because I’ve done partner dances before with another person, and I’ve done group dances, but I’ve never truly done, I guess to this extent, a dance where you’re with a partner within a group. So there’s levels of pairings, and we don’t partner switch or anything but we still very much kind of have to be mindful of all being on the same time with the music. I feel like we all individually bring different energy to our pairings and we’re all kind of telling our own story.”
The last piece is led by this Catalyst reporter for their thesis project, Ethnography of Bomba in Florida. The project aims to understand movement and bomba as a means of passing down cultural knowledge and maintaining roots to heritage despite being a part of the Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida. The three dancers are Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican, creating space for an intercultural dialogue between the dancers themselves and the audience.
“The nature of the dance style is that there’s a conversation between the dancer and drummer where the dancer creates the beat by making dramatic gestures and the drummer follows suit,” Cardenas described. “While we don’t have drummers on stage, we try to emulate that same vibe by clapping and stomping along to each other’s movements. I’m really excited to show people a glimpse of Caribbean culture!”
Dance Collective creates space for students of all dance experience levels to express themselves through movement and to come together and perform for the New College campus and community. Each showcase each semester brings together a new set of expressions, new emotions to feel through dance and sets the stage for student initiatives and involvement.
“I’ve never done any dance stuff before and it’s a super easy way to get into dance and start enjoying dance with people who are very low key and understand that you’re all from different dance levels,” Jefferis said, encouraging those who may be on the fence about performing. “Just try it out, I promise it’s a great time.”