On April 19 and 20, Danceworks brought to life Greek titles such as “Hypnos,” “Orpheus and Eurydice,” “Feast of the Kings” and “The Three Muses” during their spring showcase — “Ethos, Pathos, and Choreos” — at Yale’s Off-Broadway Theatre.
Danceworks put together a show consisting of 25 routines, with choreography ranging from hip-hop to contemporary. The spring showcase was the second show Danceworks performed this year — the first went up at the end of the fall semester. Danceworks is the largest dance group at Yale and the only one that does not require members to audition.
“My personal favorite aspect of Danceworks is the kind of community the group fosters,” said Olivia Tracey ’20, the co-president of the group. “Purely based on its design, Danceworks attracts those who have numerous years of dance experience, and those who decided at the beginning of the semester that they want to try something new. Regardless of prior experience, this allows Danceworks to create a community of people who love to dance for the pure joy of dancing.”
The show’s diversity was expressed through the group’s different levels of experience and expertise, and they also brought along different tastes in music, costumes and imagery.
Each routine caught the attention of particular audience members with whom the piece resonated. Fans of Taylor Swift screamed to the beat drop in “I Did Something Bad,” while Game of Thrones enthusiasts cheered and gasped as dancers enacted a choreographed number based on the series.
The performers encouraged the audience to participate in the show.
“Remember, the energy on stage reflects the energy of the crowd,” said Darwin Edwards ’10, during the introductory speech given by the two co-presidents of the group. “So, if you like what somebody up here is doing, let them know.”
The crowd cheered performers on throughout the show, with cheers like “Go Amanda” or “Go Eric” or “Go Aiden” sending across a positive energy from the crowd that matched the positive energy on stage. Excitement filled the room as friends and family gathered to see their loved ones express themselves in an art form that is often an essential part of their daily lives. Members emphasized that the essence of Danceworks is to serve as an outlet to students, whether or not dance is their primary extracurricular activity.
Hours of time and effort go into these performances, and the dancers gleamed with joy as they displayed attitude, sexiness, sass and flair through their dances.
“It’s been absolutely incredible,” said Noah Shapiro ’21, a member of the group who also serves as publicity chair. “Danceworks is easily one of my favorite things to do at Yale. It is engaging, and everyone is really friendly. There is no judgement and at the end, people get to see a different side of you.”
The group focuses on inclusivity, which extends to being inclusive with all the people present to watch the shows. At the beginning of the second Act, Shapiro asked audience members to join the performers on stage for a quick dance lesson. Members introduced and instructed a five-step routine, and everyone danced and sang to “Won’t Say I’m in Love” from Hercules, led by Shapiro and Tracey.
Danceworks’ main initiative focuses on the sense of connection that arises from music and movement.
“Something that we work really hard on at DW, from initiation to show day, is building an inclusive community for our members — encouraging our members, who join us with a variety of different dance styles and experience levels, to participate and put the work in,” Edwards said. “Whether you’ve been dancing since fourth grade, high school or last Wednesday, we encourage everyone to work hard and express themselves through dance, and we’re very proud of the inclusive, vibrant community we’ve created here over the years.”
Danceworks will begin recruitment again with an information session next semester.
Razan Sulieman | firstname.lastname@example.org