In the coming months, Hannah Beaudoin ’17, Zach Ruffin ’17, and Alice Tang ’18, a trio of dedicated dance students, will assume their new positions on the Dance Board. Beaudoin and Ruffin are the Co-Heads of the Dance Board and Tang is the Director of the DanceLabs. Their tasks include organizing student-led dance performances, such as the DanceLabs, and helping to plan Grasshopper Night during Family Weekend.
Hannah Beaudoin ’17 – Co-Head of Dance Board
Lauren W. Lee
Quietly standing at one end of the ballet studio, Hannah Beaudoin ’17 anxiously awaited her first ballet class at Andover during her Junior year. As she followed the exercises at the barre, Judith Wombwell, In- structor and Chair in Theatre and Dance, told the dancers to pair up with someone new in class. As Beaudoin recalled in an interview with The Phillip- ian, she paired up with Emily Ewing ’14, a Senior at the time, who welcomed Beaudoin to the Andover Dance community.
“I remember one of the first things she said to me was: I al- ways get so excited when new students come here because it’s really nice to have this new energy in the dance studio. She reassured me, ‘Don’t be scared of the older dancers. We all love having younger students here,’ and this was something that I didn’t always feel during my time in dance [before coming to Andover], this automatic feel- ing that you belong here, just because you love to dance, and you’re welcomed here no matter what,” said Beaudoin.
A dancer since the age of six, Beaudoin started participating in the dance department Junior year through Footnotes and Blue Strut and the Andover Dance Group (A.D.G.) her Lower year. While she was used to the de- manding dance training at her previous dance studio, Beaudo- in has managed to find ways to challenge herself and continue to foster her passion for dance at Andover.
“When I did come to Ando- ver, I was very worried it wasn’t going to be as rigorous for me, or I wasn’t going to enjoy the class- es as much because they were going to be so different. One thing I liked about coming to Andover was the fact that I was dancing to have fun and to show others this art form I created, regardless of how flawless my technique is, just giving it my all and making something with the movement,” said Beaudoin.
As Co-Head of Blue Strut and Footnotes this year, Beau- doin has grown not only as a dancer, but also as a leader in the Andover community. Through dance programs, such as A.D.G., Beaudoin has found ways to love every dance piece and class and to spread this mentality with her peers.
“When I came [to Andover], I was a little more timid to voice my opinions… I’ve learned not only to voice my own opinions,
but also encourage others as well. I think that’s something that’s really special about Ando- ver is that you learn a lot about yourself and you also learn a lot about the different people you’re working with,” said Beaudoin.
Looking forward, Beaudoin is excited to collaborate with various dance groups this fall as a Dance Board Co-Head with Zach Ruffin ’17.
“There was one collaboration with Hypnotiq and Blue Strut recently, which I think worked out really well. So many people came and the two groups had a really fun time with one anoth- er… Zach is a member of Hyp- notiq and Slam, and I am in Blue Strut. We’re both in Footnotes and Andover Dance Group, so working together I know we can put into effect more of these col- laborations,” said Beaudoin.
Beaudoin also hopes to spread the presence of dance on campus through casual, frequent performances called DanceLabs.
“I want to really encourage people to perform, regardless of whether or not they have a three-minute piece with lots of formations and costumes. I want to make the dance program a lot more accessible for people even if they’re not a part of the four groups I mentioned,” said Beau-doin.
Zach Ruffin ’17 – Co-Head of Dance Board
Timidly sitting on the floor, Zach Ruffin ’17 watched mem- bers of Footnotes, Andover’s tap dance group, free-styling vari- ous tap dancing techniques. Al- though Ruffin didn’t have proper tap shoes to perform in, he did his best to participate in the ac- tivity and dance with the other Footnotes members. Ruffin re- called this moment of his Junior year in an interview with The Phillipian as his first dance mem- ory at Andover.
“I was just in my socks and everyone else had their shoes on, [and I was] just making nois- es with my feet,” said Ruffin. “I was shy with it because I was still new to dancing so I was a lot more reclusive and not as out- spoken, and I guess that’s how I just learned from it. I got more comfortable with it, accepting that even if I think I don’t know what it is, I just have to believe, have more faith in myself and just have fun. There’s nothing bad that can really happen.”
Prior to attending Andover, Ruffin had little dance back- ground, his experience limited to beginner tap dancing class-
es at summer Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts. Upon watch- ing Hynoptiq, Andover’s hip-hop dance group, at Grasshopper Night his Junior year, Ruffin be- gan to develop his passion for dance. Ruffin currently partic- ipates in Footnotes, Hypnotiq, SLAM, and Andover Dance Group (A.D.G.).
“I was just having fun with it, and that led me to not only do beginner dance in the winter of freshman year but then Ms. Wombwell had passed me onto Footnotes, so that just kept the ball rolling and I just kept adding more things. I started with Foot- notes and then next year I would add Hypnotiq then I would see SLAM perform and I was like, ‘Oh, this is actually pretty cool’,” said Ruffin.
Having been a part of dance at Andover since his Junior year, Ruffin appreciates the wide range of styles and ideas that stu- dents can explore with dance on campus.
“I feel like we have a good amount of different styles, and the faculty, they’re always open to new ideas. Ms. Strong and Ms. Wombwell, those are the two dance people I know, and I’m glad to have known them because they always push me and love when I’m just doing my thing… I’m just honored, to see how much I can do with dance here and I feel like I’m always able to expand on it, which I like. Nothing seems out of reach,” said Ruffin.
Ruffin’s main goal in his po- sition on the Dance Board is to make it easier for people of vary- ing dance levels and experienc- es to actively participate in the Dance department.
“I’m just trying to broaden the appeal to it and make it so that anyone can do it or anyone if they want to [can] have the chance. [I also want to] make it a lot more inclusive of different styles so everyone feels like they have a place in dancing so they can feel the joy like I did when I first started doing it,” said Ruf- fin.
Ruffin is excited to be on the Dance Board alongside Hannah Beaudoin ’17 and Alice Tang ’18, with whom he’s had previous ex- perience working before.
“We’re friends, so I guess I’m really excited just because I know we work together well. I’m not worried about any problems, but I want to see what we each can bring to the table and how we can come up with stuff to- gether,” said Ruffin.
Alice Tang ’18 – Director of DanceLabs
Wearing a baby-pink leotard with a fluffy tutu, five-year old Alice Tang ’18 was constantly jumping and dancing around her house. Even when she wasn’t in dance class, Tang always wore her pink tutu, which she de- scribed in an interview with The Phillipian.
“[Dance] was something that my mom started me in, just like creative movement classes when I was five and six. I just never stopped. I think at first, it was something that I just did for exercise but as I got older, I got more into the artistry and the expression of art and I started to fall in love with it,” said Tang.
Before coming to Andover, Tang was part of a pre-profes- sional ballet program at her old studio in Little Rock, Ark. After joining Andover Dance Group (A.D.G.) her Junior year and co-founding World Dance Club with Makenna Marshall ’18 last winter, Tang immediately felt welcomed and supported in An- dover’s dance community.
“I really loved the dance community here at Andover from the first minute I met [Ju- dith Wombwell, Instructor and Chair in Theatre and Dance] and [Erin Strong, Instructor in The- atre and Dance], because they were just so welcoming,” said Tang.
“I came into [the dance pro- gram at Andover], thinking it would be more of a competi- tive vibe, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that everyone was really welcoming and the teachers tailored everything to what they thought you needed to work on,” said Tang.
Having only done ballet prior to Andover, Tang was introduced to modern dance by Strong. According to Tang, modern has quickly become her favorite genre of dance, as it al- lows her more freedom than bal- let.
“With modern, you get to be experimental and move your body however you want, for me it feels like a more personal ex- perience because it’s not like I’m trying to fit myself into this per- fect ballerina mold, but I just get to move and dance like myself,” said Tang.
During the spring of her Ju- nior year, Tang took a choreog- raphy course with Strong and learned to appreciate a new side of dance.
“[The choreography class] was really eye-opening because at Andover, you learn that dance is more than just movement, technique and form. It has got meaning,” said Tang. “Ms. Wombwell and Ms. Strong al-
ways choreograph really deep and powerful pieces. They seem weird at first but it forces you to have an intellectual understand- ing of it as well as having a phys- ical understanding.”
Next year, as Director of the DanceLabs, Tang hopes to im- plement bi-weekly or monthly 20 to 30 minute student choreo- graphed dance covers and dance shows, similar to the Theatre and Dance Department’s Dra- maLabs.
“I hope to make DanceLabs a continuous thing, the same way DramaLabs are, that people can look forward to it every week. I really hope it gives dance a bigger impact and influence on campus. I really hope people on campus who don’t really consid- er themselves choreographers or dancers see this as an oppor- tunity to delve into the dance world,” said Tang.
Tang is also excited to work alongside the fellow Dance Board members, Hannah Beau- doin ’17 and Zach Ruffin ’17, since she has danced with them before.
“I’ve been in A.D.G. with Hannah for two years now and Zach for one year, so we’ve al- ready gotten to know each oth- er by just sharing the stage be- cause that is such a personal but unspoken connection already. I think it will be cool.”