Not only were gym-goers displaced by the restructuring of the Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Recreation Complex, but so were the members of Fairfield University’s Dance Ensemble, who used the multi-purpose IMG_0865rooms two days a week for dance rehearsals. However, like they say in show biz, the show must go on and the ensemble managed to find available space for practice all over the University and even in town throughout the last two semesters. Their efforts and hard work were shown off as they stole the show and took the stage at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, April 15.

The dance ensemble, one of the University’s largest student-run organizations, is composed of 56 members with 55 females and one male member. Among those members is president of the organization, Kayla Kuzniewski ‘16, who is responsible for organizing weekly practices, choreographing some of her own dances and organizing the entire show with the help of her three board members.

For Kuzniewski, who is a triple major at Fairfield, becoming the president of the ensemble was something she had hoped for since before her freshman year. As a freshman, she came in as a member of the Division 1 swim team, but eventually decided that she had wanted to dedicate herself to Fairfield’s Dance Ensemble.

“After talking to the President of the Dance Ensemble then and not continuing the swim team after my freshman year, a big reason was because I wanted to run this club,” said Kuzniewski. “Dance Ensemble was the reason I chose to go to Fairfield and this is the reason I have loved my Fairfield experience the most.”

But when she found out in May that she would become the president for the 2015-2016 school year, she was thrown for a loop when the school announced that they would be updating the RecPlex. As stated in her letter in the show’s program, half of the classes lost practice space and Kuzniewski was forced to look elsewhere in order to have a place for the contemporary, lyrical, jazz and hip hop classes to practice.

The four classes were relocated constantly from the Oak Room to Faber Chapel and eventually settled down in the Fairfield Prep gym, where they were able to practice from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. The rooms were not perfect for the situation, but the group was able to make it work despite last-minute emails, lack of space and even the improper conditions for the dancers, which led to several injuries.

Eventually, as the show approached, the group desperately needed space to properly conduct rehearsal, which is when they rented a room in the Double Up Dance Studio located in town with the help of the Council of Student Organizations. For the first time, COSO was able to help fund some of the aspects of the ensemble, including the production of the DVDs sold at the show, which in turn gave the group a budget for the studio room.

“Finding practice space was extremely frustrating and it was something we had to do on our own,” said Kuzniewski. “We had to find the right people to talk to and in the end, COSO were the ones who pointed us in the right direction, sent an extra email for us and got the notice of the school.”

Given the help of COSO and the commitment that the members showed to the club despite constant location and schedule changes, the show finally arrived.

The show consisted of 37 different performances with nine of them being senior solos. Eleven were small group performances, meaning any group of dancers could volunteer to choreograph a dance in their desired genre. The remainder were large group performances in the areas of ballet, tap, broadway jazz, Irish, contemporary, hip hop, lyrical and jazz. Each genre has two dances during the show, one of which they practice in the fall and then the other in the spring.

For the large groups, a teacher is elected by the members and is then responsible for choreographing a number for a group as large as 29 dancers starting as early as September, when auditions are held.

The three and a half hour performance featured dances choreographed by a number of different students, including Kate Donovan ‘16, who composed two different dances and performed a solo of her own.

“Dance ensemble being entirely student run allows us to have full creative ability to not only choreograph all of our dances, but also to manage our club,” said Donovan. “Being a choreographer myself, I love being able to see my own pieces performed by other members of ensemble.”

Despite the show’s length, it ran smoothly, defying the circumstances. There was a budget of about $2,000 for costumes, which meant that only some groups were able to order clothing in order for everyone to be wearing the same thing. The rest of the groups relied on each individual to purchase their own outfit. Overall, the performers looked simple, yet elegant for each different number.

The show brought delight to the crowd of nearly 500 people. Junior Emily Bushey attended the performance and was impressed with the dedication that the dancers showed to the organization.

“I really enjoyed the group dances,” stated Bushey. “I also had no idea how many people were actually involved in the dance clubs, so seeing so many different friends on stage was really exciting.”

Kuzniewski couldn’t have been happier with how the show went, adding that her mother, her biggest critic, even enjoyed it.

“The show was amazing,” said Kuzniewski. “As far as I know, no one fell, we didn’t have any costume malfunctions, of course there were little mess ups, everyone has them, but nothing significant.”

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