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A MaDaCol Dancer’s Experience

Editors Note: In addition to her duties with The Observer, Elaina dances in the Mather Dance Collective. She wrote this article to chronicle her experience with the group’s current production.


It is a pleasant and breezy Sunday afternoon. At this time of day, most students are hastening to finish up their papers or complete their lab work due the following day. And then you have another group of students that are also in a hurry, but instead, they are rushing to practices, dance practices, every Sunday for MaDaCol.


MaDaCol, short for Mather Dance Collective, is a dance group consisting of not just CWRU students, but faculty, staff, and outside community members as well. The ensemble offers a creative outlet, featuring choreography by both undergrad and graduate students in the dance program. This fall, sixty dancers from various backgrounds participated in MaDaCol.


Practices for the MaDaCol production only meet up once a week, with an exception made for tech week. During the two hours of practice, dancers go over basic dance techniques for warm-up, and then head down to different studios to learn the routines.


The Fall 2012 MaDaCol performance this past weekend proved to be a huge success, with a full house and warming rounds of applause received. The showcase featured an upbeat 1920’s-1940’s styled piece, Su-Z-Q, by graduate student Danielle Dowler; a new work Dr. Night Mare, by undergraduate dance and biology major, Keely Saslow; and lastly, a comical piece titled Victory of the Feet by graduate student Karina Browne. The works differed greatly in style, music, and choreography.


As a viewer for Dr. Night Mare, it was somewhat interpretative but had an interesting plot to it. Students fall asleep in the library while studying and they have a nightmare about becoming doctors, since they are on the path for pre-med. Though it relatively conveys a serious tone to the piece, it can still be perceived as jocular in the sense that it is poking fun at pre-med students. On stage, performers expressed their horror and anxiety at becoming doctors whilst dancing in lab coats, some with frizzy and wild hair to give the image of a “mad scientist”. A very creative and original work, and relatable to a number of students here at CWRU, nonetheless.


The second choreography, Victory of the Feet, evokes a nostalgic stereotype from high school: the jocks and the nerds. The piece is set during a dodgeball game between the two rival teams. The dance routine for the nerds simply adds to the quirkiness of their dorkish aspect, eliciting a few “aws” from the crowd, while the jocks “fought” in the game with their overconfident and proud attitudes. In the end, the nerds proved that they were the underdogs, drawing screams of cheers from the audience.


Being in the last piece, Su-Z-Q, I can say that it was a great experience. At first, rehearsals weren’t the most exciting and were rather slow-paced. For performance reasons, it was important to go through the dance step-by-step, literally. But ultimately, during recent weeks, with the final arrangements of the choreography, I finally got my groove on! But dancing wasn’t just on stage. During the show, backstage and behind the curtains, you will find some several dancers swaying to the beat and letting the music take a hold of them.


Adding to the dance routine, we also wore stylish and vintage clothing from the 1930s. Dance and theatre, being “sister arts,” share similar components in the performing experience. Since each of the pieces had a background or story to it, performers not only had to dance out the meaning behind it, but also execute facial expressions as well. For the beginning scene of Su-Z-Q, we had to act as characters who were “hobnobbing” and socializing about. I remember being quite overly dramatic and exaggerating my facial expressions. As it came close to show night, the liveliness of the music spread amongst the dancers. Of course, we eventually shared that joy and enthusiasm with the audience.


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