Students encouraged by Dance Guild


Photo by Esther Ryou.

Dance Guild Spring 2017 included everything from a flowing sacred dance number to a dynamic tap dance. Many more traditional forms of dance, such as ballet, ballroom and tap, were paired with pop songs, casting a new perspective on these dance forms.

The spirit of Dance Guild is focused on exploration. Some of the guild numbers featured more than thirty dancers.

Few things are as much a Calvin tradition as Dance Guild. Showcasing Calvin’s movers and shakers for over 40 years, Dance Guild is Calvin’s largest student organization.

After the spring performance, several students commented on the role Dance Guild has played in their early college experience and suggested improvements they hope to see over the next three years.

First-year student Taylor Smith said her favorite thing about Dance Guild was that “they accept anyone and everyone regardless of their dance experience.”

Acceptance was a theme discussed by many of the dancers. Sophomore Erica Shelton, a new enthusiast for ballroom dancing, said of her dance group, “We were a close group. I didn’t feel freshman-ized.”

Shelton’s roommate and fellow dancer Rachel Gensamer, a sophomore, added, “This semester I came three weeks late and they were like ‘Come on in.’ Ballroom is really inviting. There’s like only ten percent judgment. . . that is low on the judgment scale. Every time I dance I’m a little behind. . . but low judgment.”

According to these students, dance is an important part of their college experience and liberal arts education.

Gensamer noted, “I think liberal arts focuses on getting a taste for everything and seeing what everything looks like. Offering Dance Guild gives you that perspective.” And Shelton pointed out that Dance Guild is one of the only opportunities to participate in dance on Calvin’s campus.

The new dancers in the Calvin community do have suggestions for improvement. One student mentioned: “So many of the dances have the same costumes because it is easy to find.” She noted that she would like to see more variety.

Shelton is also eager to pursue new ideas. “I’d like a bigger variety of dances,” she says. “I felt a lot of them were hip-hop-esque or funk-esque. I would like more ballroom, line dancing … That one [line dancing] was good last semester.”

Gensamer noted she would like to learn more about the dance forms she is performing. She explained, “I wish we learned more basics about the dance so that I could go tango and not just do the one basic step.”

For participants such as Gensamer, the new experiences and skills are her favorite part of Dance Guild, more specifically, the first time she got dipped in a dance: “I thought they were going to teach us how to do a dip, but … my partner was a swing dancer and I just got dipped right there. That was interesting: doing something new all of a sudden.”