Dance Your Story: Marist students team up for a great dance show

The Marist College Dance Ensemble is celebrating its 15th anniversary with their largest event in their history. The show will take place on Saturday, April 21, 2012 and Sunday, April 22, 2012.

“Our 15 Years of Dance: Dance Your Story” will feature the largest collaboration of students and dances yet. The students of Marist College themselves are the dancers and choreographers of the Dance Ensemble.

“There will be 27 different dances, each choreographed by different students from Marist,” said Luis Castillo, a junior at Marist College and a dancer for Dance Ensemble, “I’m only in one dance, but many of the girls in the club are in five, six or seven dances.”

“Dance Your Story” will take place in the newly remodeled Marist gymnasium, the McCann Recreational Center. The section of the McCann Recreational Center being used can sit up to 600 attendees, and the Marist College Dance Ensemble is hoping to get about 1,000 seats between both nights, which they were just short of during the fall semester of 2011, according to Arianna Cesa, president of the Marist College Dance Ensemble, which she attributes to having the event off-campus.

“To promote this event, we have several different fliers posted all around campus, created by our PR/Advertising Manager Taylor Crichton,” Cesa said, “We also have a Facebook event and have reached out to a lot of our alumni dancers hoping they’ll come to celebrate our anniversary. We rely a lot on our dancers to get the word out. They invite friends and family to the show and we really hope to sell over 1,000 tickets this semester.”

“Dance Your Story” will feature various different styles of dance, including ballet, tap dance, jazz, hip hop, African, contemporary/lyrical, pointe and hula, all of which are performed and choreographed by students.

“We are starting off the show with an “opening number” dance which is meant to showcase a few different styles in one dance,” said Dana Karas, the current vice president of Dance Ensemble, “The dancers really put a whole lot of time and energy into our club in order to make our shows a success. It is very ironic, but although rehearsal week is dreaded and referred to as ‘hell week’, for a lot of the dancers it is their favorite part of the semester.”

The incoming vice president of Dance Ensemble, Dana Murano, praised the dancers and choreographers for their stamina and time. “A lot of our dancers have a love/hate relationship with what we call ‘hell week’,” Murano said, “It’s obviously a huge time commitment and can get really stressful, but it’s also really rewarding to see all of the dances come together and all of our club members getting to do what they love to do every single night, not to mention it’s a lot of fun and you get to spend a lot of time with your friends in the dance ensemble.”

With over 250 members, Dance Ensemble is one of the largest groups on campus. Given the large number of members and dancers, the whole purpose of “Dance Your Story” was born, says Marist student and dancer Trina Cardamone. “The theme ‘Dance Your Story’ came from the idea that dance is very special and personalized, and each dancer brings their own emotions and experiences to what they do. In this respect, each dancer is bringing their own story to life when they dance.”

Besides promotional handouts and posters hung around the Marist campus, some students have found more creative ways to promote “Dance Your Story.” When approached at Accepted Students Day, the Dance Ensemble representatives made sure to promote the event to incoming students and their parents, said Rachel Sweeney, a dancer and fashion student at Marist. “It not only made for a more exciting experience for the accepted students and parents, but also promoted the club to those soon-to-be incoming freshmen. It also served as a reminder of the upcoming show to students working that day, which was great.”

Students dressed as marionette and puppeteer
Students dressed as marionette and puppeteer

Some students in Dance Ensemble are both choreographers and dancers, but no matter what their roles are in Dance Ensemble, one important factor seems to be getting along with your fellow students in the club. “Over half of my friends are from dance ensemble, and I am always so excited to go to dance class,” said Patricia Tow, the website manager for Dance Ensemble. “At first, I thought of it as just something to do, but you quickly realize that people truly have a love for our club.” Tow has been website manager of Dance Ensemble for two years, and a choreographer for three semesters.

As most of the current executive board is transitioning out of Dance Ensemble at the end of the spring 2012 semester, their purpose is to make this 15th anniversary event a unique and memorable one. Jaclyn Navarro, the incoming show committee manager succeeding Erin Graetzer, is already shadowing her predecessor to make sure there’s no bumpy transition between board members. Navarro has been dancing with Dance Ensemble all four of her semesters and has been dancing since she was three years old. She will have a hip hop routine she also choreographed, which will be performed by about 30 other girls.

The event currently has over 400 people marked as going on their Facebook event page, with another 60 marked as maybe. However, with the large number of newly accepted students and parents who do not have access to the event as well as faculty members who may not utilize Facebook, attendance is expected to be much higher than the current Facebook numbers.

“As my last semester as President for the club I couldn’t be happier with the dances in our show,” said Cesa, the current president of Dance Ensemble, “Being a graduating senior and on the board since my freshmen year, I really feel like the club is being left in great hands. The new board is going to be amazing next year.”

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