Dance Festival 2023 Welcomes Beginners and Blends Styles into Shorter Shows

Dance Festival 2023 Welcomes Beginners and Blends Styles into Shorter Shows

At the end of the K-Pop Show that kicked off Dance Festival 2023 last weekend, spotlights circled dancers as they gathered together on the Abbot Academy Dance Suite stage in the Pan Athletic Center. “After LIKE” by IVE was put on repeat in the background and the audience gave a standing ovation, cheering for their peers who performed. Meanwhile, performers bowed and celebrated with their fellow performers after their successful performance.

This year, many new elements were introduced in terms of the dance department and club. The addition of club liaisons made connection with faculty members and dance groups on campus easier. Aside from that, workshops for different dance styles were also given by students. Dance Producer Ashley Park ’24 discussed how the festival went in general.

“This year was actually the first time we did the workshops. Personally, I think it was a very good start, opening it up for everyone. After the dance festival, I reached out to a lot of workshop choreographers. They said a lot of people were interested and delved into that style of dancing. It is definitely something we will continue to do. The club show itself was very interactive. The audience was really loud and cheery. The dancers got that kind of energy from the crowd and were all able to perform their best,” said Park.

Many dance clubs, such as the K-Pop Club and Bollywood Club, put a lot of emphasis on beginner inclusivity. According to Darla Moody ’24, K-pop dance videos are made accessible online, so it is convenient for those who have never danced before to try the “flashy” and “dynamic” style out. Zadie Robinson ’26 described her new experience of joining the Bollywood performance.

“I was very nervous and I didn’t know what to expect… I didn’t know anything about Bollywood [beforehand]… I was very surprised when a lot of friends told me they enjoyed and liked it… I think it’s good to [explore new things] outside of your comfort zone… I’ve never danced at all before Andover… Bollywood is really fun to do and the people are nice and supportive overall,” said Robinson.

A major difference in this year’s Dance Festival was how the performances were structured. Instead of putting on one to two lengthy productions, the dance groups were split up into five smaller 30-minute shows, such as one that consisted of Blue Strut, Asian Performing Arts Club (APAC) and Fusion. This change was made in response to the overcrowding that occurred during the Dance Open. During the Winter Term Dance Open shows, Pan Athletic Center had trouble accommodating the large audience. As a result, the show was changed to allow seating “leniency.” It was also crucial to ensure all dancers had multiple shots at displaying what they worked on. Moody elaborated on what she found difficult.

“Performing onstage is always extra challenging because you’re not used to the cues or floor. It’s a very different feeling from having a mirror in front of you. I don’t think it’s the best I’ve ever done because I was really sick [on the day of the show], but that doesn’t make me less proud of it. Everyone worked really hard and it still came together even with the last-minute challenges and stage differences,” said Moody.

The Dance Festival also provided an opportunity for dance groups who did not have the chance to perform in other dance events to showcase their performances. SLAM member Juliana Reyes ’24 talked about the significance of getting to perform in the festival.

“Since we were cut out of Grasshopper and other major shows on campus, performing at the dance festival was a final closing for our Captains to showcase SLAM because I feel like they didn’t really have a chance to do so this whole year, aside from performing at basketball games in [the] winter. I think having this comeback at the end of Spring Term was nice and helped us express our dedication, letting the Seniors know we’ll still be stepping regardless of them not being there,” said Reyes.

Throughout the weekend of the festival, many student-led dance workshops were held, including a Footnotes Tap Workshop and the APAC Modern Chinese Dance Workshop. Adele Ciociola ’25, who was in charge of the contemporary workshop, explained what she hoped students took away.

“I hope [students] enjoyed the experience and found a new perspective. For contemporary dance, which was the segment I taught, there are a lot of variations, especially here [at Andover] because we all come from different dance backgrounds… I hope they got the opportunity to explore numerous dancing styles, be more comfortable with improvisation, be more in sync with each other, feel the music and choreography, etc. I want them to take something they’re not familiar with and shape that into something of their own,” said Ciociola.