Dancefest—A Look Behind the Scenes

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Dancfest is one of the most attended and anticipated events of the semester. In order to get a better understanding of how Dancefest actually comes to be, I interviewed Marit Vangrow and Lindsey Derbyshire, the co-captains of Groove Dance Troupe and the co-leaders of Dancefest.

Can you walk us through the steps of how Dancefest comes together into a cohesive production?
“Dancefest is a semester-long project. We usually set the date for Dancefest during the first week of classes. Following the activity fair, which is when groups recruit new members, groups will begin working on their dances for Dancefest. About halfway through the semester we start preparing for the actual show: we order each group's’ costumes, we order the Dancefest t-shirts that everyone wears during the opening number, and we start collecting program information and music for each piece. As we get closer to Dancefest, we find stage managers, hosts, and begin choreographing the opening number. Finally, the week leading up to Dancefest is the most stressful. We have regular rehearsals, we have additional rehearsals in the chapel, we teach the opening number to everyone participating in Dancefest, and we facilitate a full dress rehearsal.”
How do you organize the opening number?
“Marit and I, the leaders of Groove, choreograph a small part of the opening number for everyone to perform together. Then, we delineate about two counts of eight to each SGA group and they get to choreograph whatever they would like for that portion of the opening number.”
Who else is involved behind the scenes?
“Kayla Weinstein is our amazing and super helpful advisor that has been working with us the entire semester. Additionally, there are several ushers from CLSI that help pass out programs and control the crowd when people enter the chapel. Our stage managers help us out by controlling the lights and making sure each group goes on the stage when they’re supposed to. SA sound controls all the music and microphones; they are so good at what they do. All of these people are essential to the show – literally, the show would not go on without them.”
Do you have any funny or dramatic stories to share?
Marit shares, “I think there is always a range of drama when it comes to Dancefest. Some years it’s just minor things, like forgetting to bring a costume item, but other years it’s a bit more stressful. This year, I think the biggest crisis thus far has been the various injuries sustained by members of Groove, Fuse, and Ballet.”
Lindsey adds, “I feel like each year a member of Groove has some sort of injury, including this year unfortunately. A first-year in Groove broke her arm and is unable to perform. I remember our first year Marit got the stomach bug and almost threw up on stage, which definitely was not ideal.”
What is the most difficult part about planning Dancefest?
“Dancefest is hands down my favorite event of the semester, but I have to say that it sometimes gets in the way of school work. This semester I’m stuck with three 10-15 page research papers all due the week of/week after Dancefest, so that has definitely been a cause of some stress. However, Dancefest is worth all the extra time and effort,” says Marit.
Lindsey expresses, “Dancefest is so important to us all, which is why it is easy to get wrapped up in all the stress that goes into planning and running the show. But at the end of the day, and the show, we are all happy about how amazing of an experience it always is.
What is the most fun part about Dancefest?
Marit explains, “I love performing! Interestingly enough, I used to get severe stage fright when I competed dance in high school. However, I truly relish my time onstage at Dancefest. Dancefest is a time to share my art and passion with various peers, professors, friends, and family. There is nothing like performing onstage at Dancefest in front of such a diverse, supportive, and intimate crowd.
Lindsey adds, “Definitely the dancing! Also, hanging out with the members of groove backstage is probably my equally favorite part. We always make 'paper plate awards,' which we conduct a lot like 'Secret Santa.' We give our assigned team member an award and her favorite candy to get everyone excited right before the show.
Make sure to see all the hard work Marit, Lindsey, and all the other performers and crew have put into Dancefest tomorrow, May 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Colgate chapel!