Senior ANDY Editor
“To me, being onstage is stressful but exhilarating, a huge rush that makes you feel like you’re in a totally different place for a few minutes,” said Emma Mauti, President of the McMaster Dance Club.
Mauti, who’s been dancing since the age of five, led 270 members of the club in last weekend’s showcase Don’t Upset the Rhythm. The performances, which took place over the weekend of Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 at Sir John A. MacDonald High School in downtown Hamilton, were an opportunity to see McMaster students – many of whom had never performed publicly before – feel that exhilaration for the first time.
Despite an ambitious program of 42 dances that spanned over two hours, the rapid changes between numbers and the variety of styles on stage maintained an energetic and entertaining atmosphere. The styles of dance performed by the Dance Club were – and get ready for a mouthful – hip hop, lyrical, Bollywood, modern, salsa, jazz, Irish, tap, musical theatre, pointe, acro, ballet, bachata, step dance and Highland.
On this impressive variety, Mauti commented, “The diversity of dance styles is one of my favourite parts of dance club. We want to give everybody a chance to showcase what they love to do – it makes the show that much more exciting!” With 15 different styles performed, there certainly was something for everyone.
One thing that sets the Dance Club apart is peer choreography. All of the dances are arranged by fellow McMaster students and Dance Club members, who often also perform in the dances they have choreographed. “The bond between the choreographer and the dancers is a lot stronger in our club than it would be if our choreographers were professionals,” Mauti said. “We’re all coming from a similar place, and I feel like it encourages a really open and friendly environment. We even cheer each other on from backstage. I think this allows our dancers to enjoy themselves, and that’s what makes the show enjoyable for audiences.”
Of all the dances performed, a few numbers were particularly striking. “The Dog Days Are Over,” an acro dance choreographed by Brianna Schneider, was an exciting fusion of gymnastic prowess with dance, and featured attention-grabbing flips and stunts. “Free,” choreographed by Jane Chen, was an energetic hip hop number that stood out for its unique use of glow sticks – in the midst of the dance, the house lights were suddenly dropped, and the dancers on stage, wielding previously concealed glow sticks, performed a mesmerizing routine of blurring colours to the sound of heavy hip hop.
The “McMaster Step Dance” number was also notable. Choreographed by Divyanshi Jalan and Nikisha Reid, this dance was an a cappella call-and-response of clapping, stomping and shouting that utilized the body in very unique ways.
Proceeds from the three shows will be donated to Wesley Urban Ministries, a local charity that runs emergency intervention services and long-term planning initiatives to alleviate the burden of poverty that plagues disadvantaged people in downtown Hamilton. Mauti elaborated, “We picked Wesley this year because we admire their commitment to addressing the unique needs of marginalized people in the community through programs designed help them live to their full potential.” An impressive $3000 from ticket sales will be heading their way soon.
It was evident how much dedication and rehearsal went into putting on Don’t Upset the Rhythm, and Mauti admitted, “Putting on this show certainly involves a commitment of time and energy, but it’s worth it to be a part of something so many people can enjoy, and whose proceeds can support a good cause.”