Know They Can Dance

Student troupes provide great entertainment and enviable community.

Ballerina Jenny Koenig, ’13, speaks the sentiment of many when she says belonging to a student-run dance company “has become a fellowship and a sanctuary where my problem sets, papers and midterms cannot invade.” All kinds of dancers—whether premed major/dance minors who have been training since they were 4 or engineers who have newly discovered swing—kick out their stressors and find treasured companions by participating in the more than 25 extracurricular dance groups on campus.

Groups often dance in each other’s spring showcases. Among the performers at Cardinal Ballet Fusion, the April 5 and 6 dance concert at Dinkelspiel Auditorium, are the following groups, who share what it means to be footloose on the Farm.

CARDINAL BALLET COMPANY (FOUNDED 1993) 20 MEMBERS

It’s all about the floor: For its spring show, CBC rents a resilient linoleum surface that they unroll onto the Dink stage. Stocking-footed dancers then traverse it, tamping every inch.

Good times: Caroline Grueskin, ’14, likes how the group does serious work, yet manages to have fun. “In the middle of a classical repertory rehearsal, we realized we were sitting in a circle. I don’t know who started it, but before I knew it I was being tapped ‘goose.’ ”

Working on: “Friends” from Coppelia, five works choreographed by Cardinal Ballet stalwarts, and a commissioned work from choreographer Amy Seiwert.

Linda A. Cicero

SWINGTIME (2002) 16-18 MEMBERS

Their moves: Savoy-style Lindy Hop—a swing style born in late-’20s Harlem that combines Charleston, jazz and acrobatic moves called “air steps” or aerials.

Memorable times: Twice performing at Google holiday parties on the USS Hornet. A charity fundraiser at a Portola Valley equestrian center alongside Steve Lucky & the Rhumba Bums (and neighing horses). Anytime a member lands an aerial for the first time.

Family feeling: Members sometimes come with little or no dance background, chosen at auditions for their attitude as well as aptitude. (But when some 80 people are auditioning, the acceptance rate gets down to about 7 percent—a rival to the Farm’s undergrad admission rate.) There’s a yearly reunion with alums. The iconic red dresses, commissioned in the founding year, are still being handed down.

BENT SPOON (2001) 9 MEMBERS

A favorite gig: Cantor Arts Center’s annual fall Party on the Edge. Bent Spoon performs not outdoors on stage like other groups at the event, but in the modern art gallery, where dancers fit their work to the paintings and sculpture on exhibit.

Working on: “Then and Now,” choreographed by Carolyn Sinow, ’14, to “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Three pairs of dancers portray three individuals, with one dancer in each pair representing past values and one representing current views.

Linda A. Cicero

tapTH@T (2006) 11 MEMBERS

A favorite gig: MemAud’s vast stage means no dancer feels crowded and, wow, was that 2011 Parents’ Weekend crowd appreciative.

It’s all about the floor: Practice space is the bugbear for all student dance groups; Roble Gym is usually as busy as a holiday-weekend airport. TapTH@T can’t adjourn to carpeted dorm lounge or grassy yard; they have to hear the taps.

Working on: Arielle I. Garcia, ’13, is choreographing to Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and she’s also excited by an a cappella number choreographed by Amy Jacobson, ’11, a chemistry grad student at UCSF. Garcia nailed her tapTH@T audition four years ago by learning Jacobson’s piece “Proud Mary” in an hour.

DIL SE (2003) 20 MEMBERS

Define that: The name, meaning “from the heart,” jibes with their passionate Bollywood style—a fusion of contemporary dance (salsa, jazz, hip-hop), Indian classical dance (raas, bhangra) and Hindi cinema, complete with storyline, costumes and sets.

They’ll never forget: Arriving in New York at 1 a.m. for a 2011 competition. “We were practicing in Penn Station—some of us barefoot, and some of us in heels,” recalls Kathy Zabrocka, ’13.

Working on: An 8-minute epic about a young woman who returns to India when she hears that a theater she loves is about to be razed. She falls for the son of the would-be demolisher. It’s danced to bits of Bollywood hits, past and present, plus a little Kanye West.