As chills went down the dancers’ backs as they waited backstage, the lights in the Mildred Sainer Auditorium faded to black as the music was queued in the control room and ready to play. The Dance Collective Administrators moved around with the dancers, keeping them in check as well as making quick change after quick change. One dancer hopped on one foot while the other foot worked to put on the other slip-on shoe to their costume, right as a dancer called out, “Therefore I Am is on deck!” A group of dancers bustled into positions, more than ready—after months of hard work and practice—to put on a show of a lifetime at the Dance Collective Spring 2022 Showcase.
Interested choreographers show up at the first Dance Collective meeting of the semester prepared with an interest form to gauge how many people would like to be included in their dance. A time is set for each rehearsal, which occurs at least once a week in either the Yoga Room or the Aerobics Room at the Fitness Center. These rehearsals give dancers a chance to intensively work with each other and bond as the choreography shapes into an interpretable dance. A month before the showcase, the Dance Collective Administrators come to each rehearsal to watch the dancers perform their “Dance Demo,” giving the choreographer the opportunity to accept feedback in order to clean up their dances in time for the show.
Finally, the week of the show—known in Dance Collective as “tech week”—allows each group of dancers in the showcase to get extra practice in the Mildred Sainer Auditorium to physically understand the differences of spacing on the Sainer stage versus the practice rooms. Then comes dress rehearsal, where everyone comes in prepared with their costumes, rehearses their entrances and exits, understands the procedures that go on backstage and practices quick changes if needed.
“Tech week is my favorite because I get to watch other people’s dances and see all the hard work they’ve put into it,” thesis student and senior administrator Rose Schimmel said. “The show always turns out great even if the tech or dress runs aren’t perfect. It makes it all worth it when I hear how much the dancers, students, faculty and families enjoyed the show.”
Thesis student and senior administrator Gwen Roberts also recalled their time working in the control room for most tech weeks and show days in their time in Dance Collective.
“Obviously, running the tech booth is a big one,” Roberts said. “Being in there and being able to see everything that happens on and off-stage is a very powerful feeling. Also, I love getting to see everyone’s dancing live and make their choreography look even more amazing.”
They additionally elaborated on their times performing for Dance Collective.
“I love performing,” Roberts continued. “I’m very glad about being able to do that a few times because it really is a joy to dance and show people the hard work I’ve done.”
Nine choreographers and 19 dancers performed at the Spring 2022 Dance Collective Showcase on May 6 and 7. Popular genres of dance within this show included K-Pop, Hip-Hop, Contemporary and Modern/Interpretative. There were thirteen dances in total; some featured were Therefore I Am, Love on the Brain, Dangerous Woman, and Sick and Tired. The placement of these dances in the show order emphasized the incredibly contrasting moods of these pieces combined.
At the end of each spring semester, there is a dedicated Thesis Dance where all the members and administrators of the respective graduating year come together and choreograph a dance as their final performance in a Dance Collective show. However, there is a large number of graduating Dance Collective members this year, and that includes most of the current Dance Collective Administration team—which includes fourth-years Antonia Ginsberg-Klemmt, Cecilia Hampton, Phoenix Kadzis, Gwen Roberts and Rose Schimmel. Dance Collective has held a significant place in their hearts for the time they have attended New College of Florida. Schimmel explained how much the organization has meant to her.
“Over the years, I became more involved as a dancer, choreographer and eventually admin,” Schimmel said. “Dance Collective is a safe space where students with any level of dance experience are welcomed. As the oldest club on campus, we are an integral part of New College culture that will continue to live on for many years to come. Dance Collective will forever live in my memories as one of the biggest things that I got to be a part of during my time at New College.”
Roberts was also impacted by their time in Dance Collective and relayed their experiences as a senior administrator in the midst of the pandemic.
“Dance Collective means so very much to me; it’s one of the first clubs I joined at New College and the one club I tried my hardest to stick with the entire time I’ve been here,” they explained. “Even after quarantine interrupted my time on campus and I found myself with less time, energy and will for extracurriculars because of school and disability, I wanted to badly keep being an admin because Dance Collective has helped me engage with my artistic passions and given me a lot of beautiful memories with the people I’ve shared the space with. Being a part of this club also opened me up to doing and learning so many things about dance/performing arts that I’ll take with me for a long time.”
On Jan. 22, 2022, the senior administration decided to recruit three new administrators: first-years Pablo Sarmiento, Lydia Ubry and Catalyst staff writer Christine Wehner to take over their duties after they depart. The transition to a completely new administration team opens the door for new efforts placed into Dance Collective in the future, and the members of the senior administration have high hopes for the organization as a whole.
Roberts spoke in high regard to the transition in leadership to the new administrators.
“I think the entire admin team has passion and enthusiasm for the club, which I’m glad about because I’m sure they’ll have its best interests at heart,” Roberts stated, “It also shows students that they’ll be led by people who genuinely want them to participate and bring their all, and the diverse range of specialties will inspire so much creativity in the performances to come.”
“Just keep the Dance Collective going,” Schimmel said to the new administration team. “Play to your strengths, but don’t be afraid to try something different and get out of your comfort zone. There are so many amazing people that are involved in and participate in Dance Collective, and you should try to work with as many of them as you can.”
Catalyst staff writer Christine Wehner is also a Dance Collective Administrator.