Dancing on the Hill
December 2nd 2011 · 0 Comments
BY KIT PANG
Dance on a college campus can be an experience unlike any other. Hamilton College, commonly referred to as the “College on the Hill” as a dance scene can be unique and rewarding for dancers and non-dancers.
Recently, Hamilton College had its Fall Dance Concert that featured choreography by faculty Elaine Heekin, Sandra Stanton, Bruce Walczyk, and Paris Wilcox. The Fall Dance Concert is one of the two main dance performances (the other being the Spring Dance Concert) that offers a chance for students and sometimes faculty or members of the community to perform for family, friends and the general public.
“I have been participating in the Fall Dance Concerts since freshmen year,” says Nathan Stockwell-Velazquez, a senior majoring in Communication and Dance and Movement Studies. “I always enjoyed being a part of the concerts. I feel great about performing and I can show people what I love to do.”
The Fall and Spring Dance Concerts are only a taste of what Hamilton College has to offer. The vibrant dance scene on campus has a little bit of everything for anyone interested in dance. There are classes, student org-anizations, and world-class visiting artists and companies.
“Hamilton College serves as a liberal arts school. The Department of Dance and Movement Studies serves a great function here,” says Bruce Walczyk, Professor of Dance at Hamilton College. “There are dancers and non-dancers that come and gain new perspectives. They learn more than just about movement and their bodies. They also learn about culture through movement.”
One of Walczyk’s classes, Martial Arts and Dance, is always packed with students who are beginners, experienced dancers and even members of sports teams. The broad range of dance classes allow students to study and experience dance and movement as an art form that draws from technical, creative, historical and scientific perspectives.
Dance classes that are offered for beginners to advanced include Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, and Martial Arts. Students who want to be more creative can enroll in Choreography, Composition, or Sound Performance and Creativity (A class that offers an introduction to the development and use of sound related to performance). There are also classes such as History of Dance or Kinesiology that can be popular for students majoring in history or in the sciences.
In addition to formal dance classes, students who are interested in dance often choose to get involved with dance related student organizations. Student organizations can range from the hip hop group (Heat), to Caporeia (a Brazilian martial art that combines martial arts, music and dance). Many of the dance groups, such as Tropical Sol, the Latin dance group, travel off the Hill to perform for the community.
All of the organizations are made by students for students. If there is a non-existent student organization, students can make one up.
“I would say it’s remarkable that a small college like Hamilton College is able to offer so many dance options to students and other members of the Hamilton College community,” says Mark Fitzsimmons, Alumnus and former President of the Ballroom Dancing Club. “And part of what makes dance so interesting at Hamilton College is that a lot of it is student-created, student-run, and student driven. It makes dance feel like something that lots of people want to be a part of, and that’s very exciting to experience.”
The Ballroom Dancing Club is one of the student organizations that brought dance to many students (sometimes staff and faculty) in a non-intimidating, comfortable and fun environment.
Aside from activities particularly for students or faculty there is something for the community as well. The Hamilton Performing Arts Series and the Mohawk Valley Dance Partnership present world-class artists and companies to support and expand dance in the community. Individual artists and companies such as Keigwin + Company, Pilobolus or Bill T. Jones have conducted workshops, put on performances for schools and for the general public.
Dance is truly appreciated at Hamilton College as an art form that we can all learn and teach from.
For more information on performing arts at Hamilton College, please visit www.hamiltonpa.org.
By Mark Ziobro