Photo Credits: ANDRE VARELA / COURTESY
Showcasing original choreography and supporting a helpful cause
The Elite Dance Company hosted its first annual spring concert on May 19 in the Della Davidson Performance Studio. From starting with only five members a few years ago to featuring a healthy number of members eager to show off their own choreography, the organization has seen both growth and diversification throughout the years. Students witnessed various types of dance routines including jazz, hip hop and ballet, among other forms featured.
Rhea Kerawala, a third-year genetics and genomics major and current treasurer of Elite Dance Company, spoke about the organization and what some of the main goals are for this year.
“We’re built like a performance team,” Kerawala said. “We incorporate a lot of different styles into our routines. Our main goal is to have an organization where people can come together and build a community of people that enjoy dancing.”
Starting with the organization as a freshman, Kerawala has experienced the growth in members from year to year. She acknowledged that this has not always been the case, since some years had more members than others, but explained how this came about.
“We used to be a pretty big organization,” Kerawala said. “Around the time that other current officers, like Andrea [Varela] and Alice [Argueta-Ramos], took over, we had a lot of members starting to graduate or move on to bigger things. We’ve really been working on building our members back up to where it used to be. We have 18 members currently, so we’re starting to get there.”
The decision to make this event the first one for Elite Dance Company was due to the officers wanting to bring back an old tradition.
“Elite Dance Company used to have a big spring event, but that was before any of us were involved,” Kerawala said. “We really wanted to bring that legacy back. Since our freshmen year, we’ve really been trying to make this event happen. Now, we have the financial resources available and the members to make this happen.”
When discussing the spring concert, Kerawala emphasized the dedication and commitment that the performers have shown in creating their routines.
“Primarily, we will be showcasing original works by different dancers,” Kerawala said. “Some of the dancers are officers, others are just members and some are even freshmen that have choreographed their own performance. We also plan on having some guest performances from other dance organizations.”
In addition to showing various dance performances, the event is also intended to shed light upon another organization that Elite Dance Company is proud to raise awareness of.
“While it’s a pretty big deal for us to put on such a big event given our small numbers, we also want to promote our partner organization called PAN’DA [Postpartum Anxiety N’ Depression Advocates]” Kerawala said. “They support so many women going through postpartum depression, so we’re having one of their members speak at our event. Any donations will go toward their cause.”
Andrea Varela, a fourth-year theater and dance major and current co-artistic director, shared her excitement about being able to finally put on an event for her organization.
“It’s really a culmination of all the projects that our members have created,” Varela said. “It’s now our time for us to show everyone what we have to bring and also for the members to have fun. It’s a great way for us all to end the year strong.”
Varela shared information about how Fall and Winter Quarter have played a part in making the spring concert happen.
“When we start Fall quarter, we have our recruitment process,” Varela said. “We do some collaborative work as well. In Winter quarter, we always work with other dance companies and perform in their showcase events. It really depends on what we get invited to and mostly helping our team to get ready for the end of the year show.”
Like Karawala, Varela also started as a freshman and became the co-artistic director soon after that. She explained how this position has allowed her to mentor other dancers that are being groomed to take over the role.
“We thought that, for our last year, we should give this position to someone else while we’re still in charge behind the scenes to see if they need our help,” Varela said. “So we really take care of a lot the backseat work for the showcase since this is our first one. It’s a lot of applying for grants and finding other people that can help us find the proper venue.”
Holding a leadership position has allowed Varela to see not only how she has grown, but also how she impacts the other members and the many more that continue to join year to year.
“I’ve grown so much from being first a member to now understanding what being a leader truly is like,” Varela said. “When you start off leading five people, then it becomes ten, and then twenty, it can be difficult to handle, but over time you get better with communication and working with so many different types of people. We always understand that school comes first, so we try and make it a fun environment with the least amount of stress possible.”
Varela also commented on how the organization has been built from the ground up, starting with five members that had to figure out the proper ways to handle recruitment and how to advertise themselves to reach a wider audience. She finds great pride in knowing that her and her fellow officers have paved a path for new officers to take up leadership roles and continue where they have left off.
Through the planning of the different performances set for the event, Varela hoped to show that her organization is open to any and all new routines and genres that people are interested in.
“All of our members have different styles they bring to the table,” Varela said. “We’re not just contemporary jazz or things like that. If you can do hip hop or something else, we want to learn and help build that routine. We want new members to help us and teach us about what it is they have in store.”
Written by: VINCENT SANCHEZ –– firstname.lastname@example.org