There was nothing but applause for the dancers of Fairfield’s Dance Ensemble as they took the stage on Friday, March 14 at the Regina A. Quick Center. The night was filled with beautiful performances by the 61 members of Fairfield’s largest student-run club on campus. The Dance Ensemble spent about six months preparing for that one night.
During those six months, the dancers had weekly practices, depending on which genre the dancer participates in. For each genre — jazz, tap, modern, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop and Irish step — the dancers practiced for about an hour each week. Most dancers chose to take part in at least two different genres of the Dance Ensemble, which made their commitment to the club even more demanding.
In the past, the final performance has always taken place in April. But this year because of the availability of the Quick Center, the show happened one month earlier.
“Because the show was a month earlier, our schedule was much tighter,” said Dance Ensemble President Kalee Brunelle ‘14. “We all pulled together in the end and produced an amazing show despite that obstacle.”
The evening was introduced by the two masters of ceremony, Will Hollingsworth ‘14 and Alex Long ‘14, who kept the audience entertained with countless corny jokes and interesting attempts at their own kinds of dances like the “Microwave” and “Baking the Cake.” However, the real performances began when they walked off stage.
The show consisted of 29 different performances by the different groups. Each genre performed twice during the night. Excerpts of popular songs like “Everybody Dance Now,” “Wake Me Up,” “We Own the Night” and “Rumor Has It” accompanied the performances.
Through dues and ticket sales, the Dance Ensemble was able to purchase costumes to create unity in each dance. The hip-hop group performed in flannels and combat boots, the ballet section performed a dance called “Baseball Meets Ballet,” where they performed in red and white baseball uniforms and the jazz group, in the second half of the show, performed to a song called “Hands Up” in sequin-decorated wrap skirts, flowers in their hair and Chinese fans spread in front of their faces.
“I thought the costumes were beautiful and really brought the dances together,” said Steph Van Fleet ‘17. “One of my favorite set of costumes were the three dresses donated by the Connecticut School of Dance.”
Each dance was unique, demonstrating how different each genre of dance is and how versatile and talented the dancers of the Dance Ensemble are. The dances were well choreographed, well timed and in unison.
“The ensemble groups impressed me with their ability to move as one group with continued energy and passion,” said Janice Hagman, one of the parents watching the show.
For the most part, the groups moved as one, but there were sections of the show where the spotlight was on a single dancer.
It is a tradition that the seniors of the team perform in a solo, duo or trio. That is the seniors’ one moment to show the talent they have acquired over the years. Brunelle performed a tap solo to the song “Best I Ever Had” and dedicated her performance to her mother and friend Dan. In a beautiful costume, Maria Waring ‘14 performed to “Landslide” in her solo lyrical piece. All the dances performed by the seniors truly impressed the audience.
“From contemporary to Irish tap, all of the seniors showed their love and passion they have for dancing,” said Andalib Ali ‘17. “That passion and love is something I look for when I’m watching dance and because of that, I thought each performance was amazing.”
At the end of the show, the seniors came together for one final and fun dance. Decked out in wacky, 80’s themed wardrobes, the 12 seniors (Francesca Romano was out from injury) danced through the aisles to “Timber.” After endless hours spent working on stage throughout the four years, their time as dancers finally came to an end and they couldn’t have been happier with the entire performance.
Brunelle, who has been president since the beginning of the school year, has been dancing for 16 years. Her talent on stage captured the hearts of the entire audience. As the president of FUDE, Brunelle is responsible for booking time in Gonzaga Auditorium and the Leslie C. Quick Recreation Complex for weekly rehearsals, sending out weekly reminders of practice time and events to club members, making sure the final event runs smoothly and finally, organizing the two weeks prior to the performance, referred to as “hell week.” During “hell week,” rehearsals start at 4 p.m. and end at midnight.
“We have to distribute funds for costumes, collect all of the show music and put it onto CDs, put together the program (which in itself consists of figuring out the show order, getting dedications from teachers, and sending letters home to parents about purchasing ads), name the show, design the tickets, choreograph and teach the finale dance and order finale shirts,” said Brunelle.
On top of keeping together “hell week,” Brunelle is also one of the “teachers” of the club along with several other dancers.
“The teachers are responsible for choreographing a dance in the genre that they were elected to and then teaching it to the rest of the girls in that class,” stated Brunelle. “Each genre has a minimum of two teachers (one for fall and one for spring), but sometimes classes are team-taught if two students wish to choreograph together.”
Despite the large commitment it takes of being a part of FUDE, Brunelle stated that her experience of being on the Dance Ensemble team has been one of her favorite things about Fairfield.
“I can honestly say that I have 60 close friends,” stated Brunelle, “What could be better than that?”
In the future, Brunelle said she hopes that the club continues to be as close and as successful as it has continuously in the past.
“I hope that every member of Dance Ensemble knows how incredibly proud of him/her that I am. I have watched them grow so much this year, and it truly brings tears to my eyes when I realize that I will not be on the stage with them again next year,” stated Brunelle. “Thankfully, the group has some really strong emerging leaders, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the ensemble.”