Students plan and perform sold-out Dance Guild show


Photo by Anna Delph.

For junior Maria-Renee Plona, this weekend was not just another performance – it was the culmination of an entire semester of work.

“Hours and hours of our hard work, heart and soul went into planning and executing [Dance Guild],” said Plona, who served on the student organization’s leadership along with four other students.

With high participation, Dance Guild performances are some of the most popular events on campus, and this weekend was no exception. On Friday night, more than 250 students performed 28 dances to a sold-out crowd.

“There’s lots of energy and excitement for it,” said Ellen Van’t Hoof, the faculty advisor for the organization.

This semester’s show was themed “Dance Factor,” and videos starring Dance Guild leadership played with a medical theme as the leaders looked for that certain something that made someone a good dancer. “It’s a multimedia production for sure,” Van’t Hoof said.

Plona wasn’t the only one who invested time into the show. Each dance was organized, choreographed and performed by a student or team of students. As a choreographer, Plona says, “You run rehearsals, give corrections and lead the dancers through the way you want the steps to be. You also pick costumes and work with the tech crew to get certain lighting.”

But even more has to happen behind the scenes. For the Dance Guild leadership, responsibilities included “scheduling rehearsals, picking a theme, working with the tech crew, designing T-shirts and posters, making promo videos, helping choreographers,” Plona listed, “and then there’s the craziness of getting the stage ready and running dress rehearsals and blocking.”

Van’t Hoof, who met with leaders once a week, estimated that each put in up to 10 hours a week to prepare for the show. Though Dance Guild happens every semester, the addition of new styles of dance, as well as a new theme, made leadership hopeful that this show would be unique.

“I’m very excited for the variety we have in this show,” said Plona. “There are some new styles, as well as old ones we all look forward to seeing.”

Dances came in three categories: guild, which required no previous experience; audition, and advanced. Featuring everything from sacred to funk to advanced Double Dutch, students from all majors, class levels, and ability ranges found dances to perform.

“You’ll see all different skill levels,” Ellen Van’t Hoof affirmed, “You’ll see people who have never danced before, you’ll see people of all different body types. We have real people up there and they’re just having tons of fun.”

The 28 dances were proposed as ideas back in December, and students have been rehearsing them all semester. Abby Stromley, a freshman in Beets-Veenstra, performed in Guild Girls Hip-Hop with several other girls from her dorm.

“I thought it would be a good experience, something that I haven’t done before, and a good way to meet a lot of new people,” she said. But her favorite part of Dance Guild was actually performing and “seeing all the weeks of hard practice coming together for the final performance.”

Sophomore Cory Doot, who came to see friends, found the whole show “pretty cool. I like just seeing everyone having fun during the dance,” she said. “I know they worked really hard.”

Despite the hundreds of hours of work that went into the show, the focus was all on enjoying the performance. As Plona and her team came to the end of the planning for Dance Guild, they found themselves “so excited to share it.”

The audience clearly enjoyed the dances, shouting out the names of dancers they knew and cheering uproariously for each act. “Encore!” someone shouted as the dancers took a bow.

“[Dance Guild] is about fun, it’s about joy, it’s about the celebration,” Van’t Hoof said. “It’s just fun,” she reiterated. “That’s the whole goal.”