Participants use Dance Ensemble to express passion for dance
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 08:02
In her opening remarks before the Davidson Dance Troupe’s Spring Show in 1996, Carrie Harris `96 could boast of the eight dedicated dancers about to take the stage. Their numbers had doubled from the year before. Before the arrival of the dance program, Harris, along with Carrie Van Deest, Erin Steffensmeier, Sarah Holden, Angela Letizia, Sandra Symes, Shannon Simmons and Laura Leibfreid, had to fend for themselves. “For three years now, Shannon and Laura have fought for practice times in the dance studio of Baker, have held practices in racquetball courts and the basketball court because of the dance studio’s unavailability, and have persevered and determined that this dance troupe will be the best it can be,” Harris said.
Now known as Dance Ensemble, the group’s membership has increased fifteen-fold. More than 100 dancers will take part in the 2013 Spring Show. They carry on the passion and dedication of the eight dance troupe members to make the show the best it can be.
Part 2: The magic I found in dance.
For some dancers, Dance Ensemble is an opportunity to continue a lifelong passion. “I’ve been dancing my whole life. When I came to Davidson I was really excited about it,” Dionysia Theodorou `16 said. When I was doing my college applications senior year I wanted to find a place that had dance clubs or organizations. At home I watched my brother’s Dance Ensemble DVDs and thought the organization was really cool.”
After dancing in one piece in the Fall Show, Theodorou excited to continue dancing in the spring. “I want to do it every single semester. Every semester new choreographers can bring something new and I can challenge myself,” Theodorou said.
Maddie Parrish `13 is making the most of her first and last opportunity to take part in Dance Ensemble by appearing in six different routines. “I’m a senior and I played field hockey, so I couldn’t do it in semesters past. It’s my first and last time doing it, so wanted to do as much as I could,” Parrish said. “I danced for 15 years before coming to college. I started with ballet, but wasn’t really built for it because I played field hockey. I did tap, jazz, modern and acrobatics at local dance studios.”
The challenge of learning new styles of dance draws many experienced dancers. “The choreography is at times difficult but I love the challenge,” Shamus Cooper `16 said. “The hardest thing about being in three dances, two back to back, is finding the energy and stamina to learn and perform the dances.”
Dancers also have the opportunity to flex some of their old muscles. “Most of the choreographers are really relaxed, but some throw out technical terms. It helps to know how to move your body. It might be a little tougher not knowing certain movements beforehand,” Parrish said.
However, Dance Ensemble is open to any and all students on campus, regardless of previous dance exposure. Indeed, many dancers had no experience in dance prior to arriving on Davidson. For them, Dance Ensemble is an opportunity to try something new and exciting. “I have no professional experience with dance,” Stephanie Pineda `15 said. “I did dance ensemble fall semester freshmen year. I had so much fun. I’m not typically one to do the performance thing. I’m really shy, and have terrible stage fright. I like that my freshmen experience got me out of my comfort zone.”
Despite not having taken a dance class before Davidson, Pineda… “I would say it definitely makes some parts harder to learn or master than others, if I just compare myself to others who might have experience with dance. Some things may come easier to them, while it takes me an additional three or four times of practicing a sequence to actually nail it. Other than that, though, I wouldn’t say it affects me too drastically.”
What all of these dancers most enjoyed about Dance Ensemble is the outlet for doing what they love. “I dance because I love to dance. I have been told my life is a walking music video, and music brings dancing with it. So in a way my love for music fuels my already existing love of dance,” Cooper said.
“People have different reasons for dancing. Just try it. See what it means to you. Try it first. I think you will find the magic I found in dance,” Theodorou said.
Although __ out of __ choreographers are male, male dancers are harder to come by. Cooper is the only male dancer in “Spectrum,” by Dan Van Note `14. “I honestly think the ratio is so low because the guys on campus are afraid. They are afraid that dancing would make them look less masculine, Cooper said. “The fact to that most girls like a guy who can dance, let alone will dance, this should be a incentive enough for guys to hop on free, challenging, and great dance lessons and in the in show it off to the ladies in the end.”
Dance Ensemble has come a long way since its inception. Carrie Harris should be proud and glad that the struggles they went through to keep the dance troupe alive has allowed hundreds of dedicated experienced dancers and newcomers over the years to express their passions and hobbies.