Rider’s dancers sashay for newly acquired funds

Freshman Mary Jaeger (left) and sophomore Kelly Byram (right) demonstrate their flexibility and skills while practicing for Rider Dance Ensemble’s fall showcase.

By Jess Scanlon

Move over, ballet. This year, the Rider Dance Ensemble’s (RDE) fall showcase will feature contemporary numbers with some jazz and tap pieces, according to the organization’s vice president, senior Katie McCambley.

In its first performance this year, RDE will feature 11 different numbers, choreographed by members and co-directed by McCambley and Marissa DeSantis, president of RDE. This semester marks the first in which the organization is recognized as a club after receiving formal club recognition by the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate last year.

“We actually have a budget to work with,” DeSantis said. “It does not go far when 54 [members] need costumes!”

The club received a budget of $2,500 for the 2010-2011 school year, a large amount for its first year as an official club. This is a change from previous years when the group paid for its own productions out of its members’ pockets.

“Dancing can be an expensive hobby, and we need the money that the school gives us for both the fall and spring shows,” said Caroline Asuncion, a sophomore marketing major and dancer.  “We are trying to think in terms of affordability for the members when it comes to costume arrangement.”

Other benefits of club recognition include the ability to participate in school events such as Awareness Day and Open Houses, which has led to a surge in active membership. RDE is now co-ed with three male members, including one who is doing some of the choreography.

The fall showcase will be held in the Spitz Theater, as the Yvonne Theater was already booked when DeSantis attempted to attain the venue last spring. Around the same time, e-mails were sent out to inform students about the opportunity to choreograph the show, and seven students were selected for the job.

While the members of RDE are taking care of what occurs on the stage, the technical aspects of the show are being carried out by Alpha Psi Omega (APO), the honors theater fraternity, because of its extensive experience with the lighting and sound systems in the theater.

Even without APO, the scale of the showcase will trample previous performances because of the sheer number of dancers involved. The auditions were held Sept. 9 and were open to all majors.

“We experienced the biggest turnout in RDE history at our auditions this fall,” McCambley said.  “We also have several members who will not be dancing in the show as well as a dedicated tech crew.”

After the 54 dancers arrived to audition and were taught a simple routine, the choreographers picked their favorites. All were offered a role in the show, according to DeSantis.

Rehearsals began after the auditions with schedules varying at “the discretion of that [piece’s] choreographer,” McCambley said.

Based on her own dance schedule involving the showcase, Asuncion explained how much the showcase dancers should expect to practice.

“I’m in three numbers, so I have practice for at least one hour every night except for Wednesday,” Asuncion said.

The hours of practice will continue for a few more weeks until the opening night on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 10 p.m. in the Spitz Theater. There will also be performances on Oct. 23 and 24, including a matinee. It is a night that many of the dancers and crew are working towards and looking forward to.

“It’s great when you get out there in full costume dancing your heart out after all the effort put into practices,” Asuncion said.  “It’s like a rush of excitement and adrenaline, and you can’t help but smile.”

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