On Saturday, April 27, the Colgate community gathered in the Memorial Chapel for the biannual Dancefest, which served as a welcome break from the mounting end-of-semester blues. The event kicked off with all of the dance groups filling the stage in a flurry of bright costumes and swirling limbs for a joint number. Each group briefly danced across the stage as a tease of the performances to come, sending the crowd into a frenzy. With each passing group, the audience’s cheers grew in eager anticipation of their friends’ upcoming dances.
“There was so much energy in the room and to see such a huge turnout and such an excited audience proves just how close and supportive the Colgate community is,” first-year Julia Williams said.
The event’s hosts, seniors Sarah Haeckl and Gabby Durr, maintained the positive energy of the event with their playful banter, fun facts about the songs and engagement with the audience. They said that their job was to be the “middlemen”and allow the dancers to speak for themselves through their performances—and the performances spoke volumes. The dances reflected the diversity of backgrounds and interests among the student body with a vast spectrum of cultures and dance genres represented.
The cultural groups, which included Melanated, KPOP’d, Latin American Dance, Afro Beat, Irish Dance, Bollywood and Chinese Dance Club, celebrated the traditional and not-so-traditional dances of their respective cultures. Chinese Dance Club and Irish Dance, for instance, took the traditional route. The Chinese Dance Club performers were clad in flowing tunics of pastel blues and pinks, and flowed with the sounds of rushing water and singing birds. The Irish Dance performers juxtaposed this performance with the rigidity of their movements and fast pace. Their torsos remained immobile as their shoes rapidly tapped along the stage in perfect sync, with the echoes of their steps competing with the loud cheers of the crowd. Bollywood killed their performance; they provided a blend of old and new with customary loose and colorful tunics and a playful dab thrown into the choreography that elicited chuckles and groans from the crowd.
Melanated, Afro Beat and Latin American Dance danced to hip-hop, reggaeton, salsa and rap songs that were complemented by contemporary choreography. The groups wore mainstream clothing, like jeans and baseball jerseys or black crop tops and camouflage cargo pants. The movements of these dancers were faster and their passion for their dance was noticeable in the force behind every movement, the nodding of their heads to the beat and the breathless smiles they exchanged across the stage. The choreography ranged from robotic hip-hop to twerking and made viewers leap from their seats, enraptured by the palpable excitement of the dancers on stage.
Even offstage, the dancers kept spirits high and supported their classmates.
“The vibe backstage is also fun and upbeat because we’re warming up and practicing together and getting pumped to go onstage. We also all watch the dances on the TV downstairs and cheer when they come back down after their performance,” first-year student and Shock member Haley Fuller said.
Alongside these cultural dance groups were ensembles that represented different genres of dance, such as the Colgate Ballet Company, Shock, FUSE, DDT and Ballroom Dancing. The ballet performances were the picture of elegance and poise, with the dancers light on their feet as they flitted across the stage like wisps of wind. Shock and FUSE embodied modern and interpretive dance as they tumbled and leapt across the stage, even carrying each other across the stage at points. Ballroom Dancing performed dances from a range of times and places, going from a dance that blended salsa and waltz to a swing dance reminiscent of the 1940s.
Senior Chelsea Santiago reflected on the experience of performing during this year’s Dancefest and dancing over her past four years at Colgate.
“I was in four dance groups (DDT, LAD, MELANATED, and Colgate Dance Team), and for Saturday’s performance I was in a total of nine dances,” Santiago said. “Dancing at Colgate allowed me to find a space on campus where I could meet people who had a similar passion.”
Belly Dancing, Colgate Tap Troupe, Cosplay Photography Club and KPOP’d also nailed their routines. The Belly Dancing performances entranced audiences with the dexterity of their torsos and their vivid, gold-adorned costumes. Colgate Tap Troupe got the audiences’ toes tapping along to their catchy songs and the unified sound of their shoes striking the stage, forming a beat of their own. The Cosplay Photography Club & KPOP’d drew the audiences’ attention with their eccentric costumes, which consisted of wigs, flashy dresses and masks.
The performances on Saturday evening were a testament not only to the spectrum of passions of Colgate students, but also to their dedication. The hours spent choreographing and rehearsing this semester all culminated in another successful Dancefest, setting an even higher bar for the next one.
Contact Rose Corcoran at email@example.com.