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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Dance for a Cause Competition

RCDC to host annual competition supporting Camp Kesem

UC Davis dance group Released Contemporary Dance Company will host its annual competition Dance for a Cause on Feb. 3. Dance for a Cause brings together eight dance troops to compete, and whichever team wins based on fundraising and points earned during the event will receive $200 donated to a charity of their choice. Competing this year is Vision Dance Troupe, MOBility, Davis Ballet Company, Agape, SonNE1, Na Keiki ‘O Hawai’i, Unbound Progression Dance Company and Elite Dance Company.

Emily Clay, a fourth-year human development major and co-director of Vision Dance Troupe, spoke about her experience with Dance for a Cause.

“Coming together for a cause: the name says it all,” Clay said. “We are all doing it to raise money for kids in need and then for the charities that we choose so it’s uplifting that way, it’s a very positive atmosphere.”

Remaining funds earned from the event beyond the $200 for the winning team are donated to Camp Kesem, a student-run non-profit organization. Camp Kesem is a national organization that raises money to provide a weeklong free summer camps for kids whose parents either are or were affected by cancer. The camp counselors, who are UC Davis students, fundraise throughout the year in order to provide this experience for the kids.

“A lot of the counselors will also be people who have had similar experiences,” said Kate Stewart, a fourth-year clinical nutrition major and co-director of Vision Dance Troupe. “They just try to have a fun week for the kids … [it’s] free to the kids, so [the counselors] have to raise money throughout the year, so it’s cool that [Dance for a Cause] goes toward that.”

Dance for a Cause showcases a wide range of dance styles and chooses different groups to portray Davis’ diverse community of dance troupes and styles.

Ana Petraglia, a third-year design major and co-president of the Davis Ballet Company, addressed how her dance troupe might not be what is expected from a classical ballet dance routine.

“I feel like audiences are expecting classical ballet from us because of the name and their preconceptions of what ballet is,” Petraglia said. “But as a team we’ve always tried to use our ballet technique instead in more modern and contemporary styles, so you can still tell that we’re trained in classical ballet but we like to explore a more modern feel and style in our choreography.”

With the thought of winning in mind, a few dance troupes have already chosen a charity.

“If we win any prize money we are going to donate it to Shriners Hospitals for Children,” Clay said. “There’s one up in Sacramento […] it’s a hospital that treats kids regardless of cost but also race, religion, orientation, all of that and they have some specialties in burn victim care, spinal cord injuries, cleft palate and cleft lip.”

Shireen Kattemalvadi, a third-year neurobiology physiology and behavior major and co-president of the Davis Ballet Company, discussed why the group is focusing on a charity near Davis. While they did not have a specific charity in mind yet, the dance troupe did have a certain criteria that the charity had to meet.

“I feel like the people in this community can help other members of this community and it’s beneficial when you can see the effects,” Kattemalvadi said. “And if you don’t help your own community, who else is going to? I feel like all those donations do help and they are impactful, but it gets lost in the larger picture. By donating to something locally you might be making more of a difference than you would to a larger organization.”

Dance for a Cause takes a lot of organization and preparation. Dance troupes have to plan weeks in advance to decide their dance, rehearse the choreography and choose the music.

“We start preparing pretty early, we [thought] about ideas all of last quarter,” Kattemalvadi said. “And we actually started choreography last quarter as well … the board of the team usually has to prepare more for it, so [the co-presidents] and our artistic director collaborate and we try to have a solid idea of what the piece is going to look like — what song we’re going to use, the music, the choreography. So we have a solid starting place and we can really hit the ground running for this quarter.”

Dance for a Cause is an event that many of the dance troupes look forward to.

“It is easily the highlight of my year,” said Hannah Contois, a senior plant biology major and the director of Released Contemporary Dance Company. “I feel so grateful that I get to play a pivotal role in making it happen. Year after year, I am amazed at the sense of support and community that can be felt backstage and in the theater; being able to watch passionate dancers take to the stage is something I will never get tired of seeing.”

Admission to the competition is $15 at the door. Presale tickets cost $6 for students and ten dollars for non-students. T-shirts can also be purchased at the event. They plan on selling out again this year with an expected audience of 500 people.

Dance for a Cause will take place at Richard Brunelle Performance Hall on Feb. 3. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the event will start at 6 p.m..

Written by: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org


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