Davis dance community comes together for a good cause

RELEASE CONTEMPORARY DANCE COMPANY / COURTESY
RELEASE CONTEMPORARY DANCE COMPANY / COURTESY

Released Contemporary Dance Company hosts Dance for a Cause to benefit Camp Kesem.

Released Contemporary Dance Company (RCDC) is hosting their second annual showcase to benefit Camp Kesem, a national nonprofit that supports children whose parents are or have been affected by cancer. The showcase began last year as an alternative to the Davis Dance Revolution (DDR) event, an annual competition held on Picnic Day.

Dana Sever, a fourth-year political science and psychology double major, current Co-Director of UC Davis Camp Kesem and member of RCDC, explained that the company sought to create a more community-oriented dance event.

“We had been doing DDR for a while and it was fun, but it almost got too competitive, to the point where we weren’t enjoying performing for the sake of performing,” Sever said. “We decided last year as a team to do a showcase that was purely for the fun of dancing, to bring all of the different teams together and really try to build this Davis dance community.”

Sever has been involved with Camp Kesem since her first year at UC Davis, and offered to be the liaison between RCDC and the non-profit so the showcase could also serve as a fundraiser. Last year’s Dance for a Cause was a sold-out event that raised over $3,000 for Camp Kesem. This money goes toward providing a week of camp over the summer, where UC Davis students serve as camp counselors and organizers.

“When you have a parent who is affected by cancer, the emphasis really goes on making sure that the parent is okay — chemo is hard, losing your hair sucks and they are constantly fighting for their lives — so kids are watching this happen and seeing their parent disintegrate before their eyes,” Sever said. “They don’t get to be kids. They have to grow up fast and often take on some of the parent’s responsibilities. So one of our goals is to give these children a week of childhood.”

This year, 10 different dance groups will be competing, with the winners chosen by a three-judge panel consisting of a counselor and a participant from Camp Kesem as well as an alumnus of RCDC. The winners will be determined by their performance as well as how much they fundraise for the event. The number of tickets a particular group sells also factors into their overall score.

The first-place team will receive $200 to donate to their charity of choice. Agape, a non-audition-based Christian dance team, won the showcase last year and donated their winnings to World Vision, a charity that provides children in third-world countries items such as food, water, shelter and education. Angela Pak, a fourth-year comparative literature major and director of the team, was in awe when the winners were announced.

“We never really expected to win, because Agape never participates to compete. We mainly do so to perform,” Pak said. “We honestly thought that other teams would win, so personally, I remember being ready to clap and cheer for whoever won first place.”

Samira Monshietehadi, a third-year psychology major and co-director of RCDC, was particularly inspired by the way the Davis dance community came together for the cause.

“Last year we had no idea how successful the show would be. Learning that we could use [performance] to bring together such a versatile group of dancers as well as raise money for such a worthwhile cause was so humbling,” Monshietehadi said.

RCDC’s Dance for a Cause promises to be a night of community building, passion and entertainment. The 10 groups that are performing offer a diverse array of dance, including cultural, contemporary and hip-hop.

The event will take place at the Richard Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School on Feb. 6. Tickets are $5 for UC Davis students and $7 for non-students and can be purchased from any of the performing groups. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show will start at 7 p.m. For more information, please visit the Facebook event page.

WRITTEN BY: Sara Williams – arts@theaggie.org