“Take me home!” an audience member shouted, as the lights dimmed on Matt Spero ’21 after his electric tap solo to the band A-ha’s synthpop classic.
It was only one of 19 spectacular dances, bridging various styles of dance and music, that made up the Yaledancers’ Fall Show, held Nov. 9–11 at the Educational Center for the Arts Theater. Yaledancers holds one showcase each semester in addition to a Valentine’s Day performance in the spring.
“I loved the energy,” said Chris Wolfe, who drove down from Maine to support her daughter Isabel Wolfe ’19. “They had a really nice presence — they’re great dancers.”
As attendees filed into the sold-out theater, a slideshow of Yaledancers’ profiles was projected onto the back wall, featuring individual dancers, their photos and a personal blurb thanking family, friends and, most prominently, the Yaledancers community for their support leading to the success of the show.
“Thank you YD for being such an amazing fam. Being able to dance with you all is a blessing,” one blurb read.
Shortly after 8 p.m., Yaledancers co-presidents Sarah Better ’19 and Monica Tunez ’19 introduced the group, and the show began. Dances ranged from jazz-inspired pieces featuring the full company, to contemporary quartets moving only to the sound of drums. A background screen shifted between ethereal colors, from scarlet red to muted blue. Spotlights from the wings illuminated the dancers’ silhouettes as they leaped and glided across the stage.
Invited to scream their full support for the dancers, the theater was filled not only with a wide variety of cheers, ranging from the standard — “Yeah YD!” — to the more personalized — “That’s my little sib!” and “She’s in my section!”
“There were two people in the audience on Saturday who were members of the company but weren’t performing in the show, and they were going ham,” Better said.
The slideshow, the rambunctious crowd and the swarms of parents, students and other admirers that flooded the stage after the performance demonstrated that Yaledancers has fostered a caring community.
“It really seemed like they were all having fun out there,” said Zaki Bahrami ’18.
Yaledancers starts work on its shows at the beginning of the semester, holding a showing, in which members pitch their dances, including the music, style and number of dancers they hope to incorporate. “It’s a collaborative and conversational process,” Better said.
Moreover, dancers have distinct ways of constructing their choreography. Some will play music on repeat while filming themselves improvising, then quilt together a dance from the footage, whereas others will slowly and methodically construct a dance.
Each piece is assigned one hour of rehearsal per week, for around seven practices for each dancer. The Yaledancers community also meets up for weekly dinners although Better says the majority of bonding happens before and after class, when dancers warm up and cool down. Most Yaledancers come from classical backgrounds, but the company features members trained in tap, hip-hop and competitive dance. One girl even has an acrobatic background and has performed with a circus.
The dancers’ diverse backgrounds led to the assortment of grand jetés, dramatic lifts and gymnastics moves on display in the Fall Show.
The Yaledancers have long held their shows at the Educational Center for the Arts. A lack of adequate spaces at Yale with the right flooring and seating arrangements led the group to move off campus. The Fall Show’s turnout was more or less the same as other years, Better said. She added that the Thursday show usually has fewer attendants, but that sold-out Friday and Saturday shows are typical.
With their fall show successfully completed, the Yaledancers are already looking to their next show, a Valentine’s collaboration with the Whiffenpoofs. Beyond that, the group will hold a second showing in January, beginning the cycle that will produce the Spring Show, in the same structure as their first.
The Yaledancers are the oldest dance group on Yale’s campus.
Brianna Wu | firstname.lastname@example.org