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Girls Supporting Girls: Get To Know UMass’ Dance Club

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

UMass’ Recreation Center is the place to be on a Tuesday night. While many students come to play intramural sports or work out, the UMass Dance Club (UMDC for short) is hard at work in the studio preparing for their spring showcase.

The group is entirely student-run, choreographing and performing their own dances. Students are invited to audition in the fall, with six of the 35 auditioning dancers welcomed into this year’s class.

The club hosts and performs in two showcases per year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Alongside Dance Club, other UMass dance groups are invited to perform. The spring showcase will be held on April 30th at 2 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium. 

I sat in on a Tuesday night practice, where the group rehearsed three of their six pieces for the showcase. Emma Peacock’s piece is first up: a hip-hop dance to Drake’s “Best I Ever Had.” 

The shiny floors of the mirror-walled room echo with stomping feet and the bass of the music. Peacock, UMDC Vice President, begins working on the specifics of the dance, then arranges the dancers in a V-formation with a few pink UMDC hoodies sprinkled in.

dance scene from In The Heights
Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

This positive energy is apparent as the group rehearses. Peacock, 20, works out her thought processes in real-time, asking fellow club members for their thoughts on moves. “You’re movin’ and groovin’ here,” says Peacock, dancing across the front of the room.

The group works hard and collaborates, but without taking themselves too seriously. The dancers talk about their spring break plans and crack jokes between runs. “Pray for Julie. She has a calc exam,” one girl says, and the group bursts into laughter and a collective “nooo.”

UMDC’s members praise the club’s supportive community. “One of the reasons I love dance club is because there’s an emphasis on friendship and dance, versus just practicing our dances,” said Alex Norton, UMDC treasurer.

“We do like, bonding nights, things like that, and I feel like I’m actually really close with the girls versus just dancing with them,” Norton said. This year, the group has done Secret Santa, a Valentine’s Day party, and a “Jeopardy!” night, to name a few.

For many, UMDC has been integral in finding a home on campus. Willa Lehner, 19, joined the group as a freshman this year. It was a “really nice welcome to UMass. Everyone was so nice,” Lehner said. “It was a group of people we could reach out to.”

Tegan “Tia” Oliver, 22, has been a member of UMDC since her freshman year. Now a senior, Oliver serves as UMDC’s president. Oliver is choreographing the club’s sole full-group piece, a jazz/contemporary number to a mashup of Billie Eilish songs, alongside fellow senior Sami Weiss.

“I feel like this isn’t true for all clubs, but I definitely think of Dance Club in general as a part of the people I’ve met at UMass that have had a core impact on my experience,” Oliver said. 

“You can always tell everyone is so supportive of each other,” said Oliver. “Everyone is celebrating each other’s successes.”

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Caroline Tiernan

U Mass Amherst '24

Caroline Tiernan is a writer and Editor-In-Chief for HerCampus at UMass Amherst, studying English and journalism. Caroline is originally from Newburyport, MA, and LOVES being near the beach. She enjoys baking with her roommates, all things Taylor Swift, and being a Sagittarius.