As a member of The Mirror for the last four years, I’ve covered more events than I ever wanted to. However, there has been one exception to this, that being the annual Fairfield University Dance Ensemble performance. The show, which is entirely student produced, has brought me back every year and has never failed to impress. But this year, the group went above and beyond expectations due to their skilled dance moves and enthusiasm throughout the performance. As a well-seasoned attendee of the event, this year’s show deemed “Just Dance” was by far my favorite. With 200 more tickets sold this year than last year, “Just Dance” had a sold out performance as 16 seniors and 48 other members took the stage for a night filled with laughs, smiles and even some sentimental tears.
“I feel so proud of the sold-out show … Although we didn’t expect to sell out, I think we can give credit to our increased amount of advertising and devotion that went into the planning of the show,” said FUDE President Megan LaFleche ‘17.
LaFleche deserves the utmost respect for putting together this show. This would be the only position I wouldn’t take over being editor-in-chief. She, along with three other board members, Vice President Brianna Meyer ‘17, Secretary Grace Schiller ‘17 and Treasurer Nicole Lambi ‘17, began working on this production at the very beginning of the school year. Since it is student-run, members of FUDE take the initiative to lead, create and instruct the different dances for the evening. Eight seniors directed a variety of dances this year including contemporary, lyrical, Irish step, jazz, broadway jazz, hip hop and tap.
Senior Erin Fleming choreographed and co-choreographed more than five dances on Friday night.
“For me, the first thing I need to do is create a vision of what I want … I need to find the perfect song and make sure it reflects what I want the dance to look like,” said Fleming. “After that, I begin choreographing, which usually consists of listening to the song and then creating movement to match the lyrics.”
After the vision is created, the Dance Ensemble spends the entire school year perfecting the dances all for the one night on the stage. It’s more than just the dances that go into it, however, as there is costume coordinating, hair and makeup, fundraising efforts and their first-ever photoshoot this year. For those involved in the group, they can expect to practice at least once a week and for those who willingly choose to participate in more than two genres of dance, they can spend up to five nights down in the Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Recreation Complex practicing.
This year’s performance was even tougher to put together due to timing issues.
“Our show was a whole month earlier this year than last year,” said Meyer. “We also had spring break the week before the show so an entire week of practice was lost.”
Although the time spent is a huge commitment, it showed on the stage during their March 24 performance. Some of the fan favorites included the hip hop numbers, specifically the last one called “We Woke Up Like This.” The dance was choreographed by Heather DiLorenzo ‘18 and Julia Parsloe ‘18 and included some of Beyoncé’s top hits. The members were able to engage the crowd with their sass and boss attitudes. My favorite and the most surprising part of this piece was when the only male member of the ensemble, Damien Rosales ‘17, finished out the piece with a split. I didn’t know if I should feel pain or get up there and hug him, but it was definitely something to remember.
In the spirit of the season, there were several Irish step pieces that made me wish that I had grown up in an Irish family. Schiller and Kerin Nessbaum ‘17 took a modern day twist on the dance when they stepped to “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. The girls kept the dance fun and full of energy as they challenged each other to a competition in the midst of the dance.
In addition to upbeat styles such as hip hop and Irish step, emotional contemporary and lyrical numbers were also interesting to watch. Specifically, a lyrical routine entitled “After the Storm” choreographed by Morgan Carrozzella ‘19, which provided audience members with an aesthetically pleasing series of turns, jumps and unique movements by the dancers.
“I have gone to the dance ensemble show every year at Fairfield and I really thought this one was the best one yet. Each dance was beautifully choreographed and performed,” said Liz Solar ‘17. “I thought the dancers performed from the heart and I did not want the show to end.”
On top of the group performances, each of the seniors performed a solo where they were able to showcase their final dance before they graduate. Each solo dance, through the music and movement choices, encompassed the personality and the passion that the members had for the art.
At the conclusion of the show, the senior members, plus the MCs Matt DelRosso ‘17 and Cam Collins ‘17, came together for one Spice Girls themed dance. Throughout this lighthearted song, the dancers showed some of their freestyle moves while laughing along together to end the night on a high note. The seniors were then presented with roses by fellow dance members to congratulate them on their time spent on FUDE.