Novices and experts welcome in Vassar dance groups

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Vass Shakers is a student-run group that requires no auditions and no dance experience. Pictured above is a moment from their spring 2014 performance.

No matter the time, day or season, one can observe Vassar dancers—ranging from the highly trained to novices—moving across the open and airy studios of Kenyon Hall. For those interested in dancing at Vassar, there are countless opportunities available at every level or genre.

Vass Shakers is one of Vassar’s newest dance groups and requires no audition to join. The group prides itself in its inclusivity and offers the opportunity for anyone interested in dance or choreography to express their passion—from those who have danced center stage to those whose previous experience is limited to practicing in front of the mirror. Aside from encompassing a range of skill sets, the group performs pieces in any and all styles. The Shakers is an open forum for dance of all kinds.

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On Tap is Vassar’s student-led tap group. Above they strike a pose at their holiday performance in the Aula. (Photo courtesy of On Tap)

Like the Shakers, On Tap requires neither an audition nor any prior experience in order for one to become a member of the group. Unlike any other campus group, however, On Tap is Vassar’s sole tap dance troupe. The group performs pieces ranging in all styles of choreography—so long as dancers are wearing tap shoes while doing so.

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HYPE is a student-run hip hop group. They’re all inclusive and perform at many of Vassar’s all-campus events, including this one in the Villard Room pictured above. (Photo courtesy of HYPE)

HYPE is Vassar’s all-inclusive hip hop dance crew and is known for its highly energetic performances. HYPE allows for its members’ creativity to flow as HYPE members choreograph all of their own pieces. Where Hip Hop 101, an organization strictly dedicated to hip hop, encompasses all four elements of hip hop, HYPE focuses on just one—dance—and celebrates it by teaching, learning and creating pieces as a form of high-entertainment and artistic expression. One can meet up with HYPE on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. for their general body meetings, where anyone can dance with the group.

“I used to dance but when I came to Vassar I hadn’t in years so I didn’t feel like I could audition for anything,” noted Sabrina Kleman ’17 of HYPE. “I really missed it and so I tried out for HYPE for fun. They were so inclusive and accepted me right away. They even put me in the front during some performances where it was not only my first year, but I was clearly not a ‘hip hop’ dancer.”

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FlyPeople is a student-led audition group that performs all styles. Pictured above, dancers freestyle in Vassar’s College Center. (Photo courtesy of Vassar College)

Where HYPE and On Tap focus on a single genre of dance, FlyPeople includes a huge breadth of styles and dancers. FlyPeople is the oldest student-run dance group on campus and takes pride in their highly collaborative approach to dance as well as their professional performance style. After competitive auditions, the group holds weekly rehearsals in order to prepare for their bi-annual shows—which are always widely attended.

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VRDT is Vassar’s faculty-led dance repertory. Their long hours of rehearsals culminate in a performance at Poughkeepsie’s historic Bardavon Theater. (Photo courtsey of Rachel Garbade)

For those wishing to receive college credit for dance, the Dance Department offers all levels of classes in ballet, modern and jazz as well as to those who partake in Vassar Repertory Dance Theater (VRDT).  VRDT’s annual repertoire includes pieces that riff off of modern and ballet. After successfully auditioning, VRDT dancers dedicate many hours a week practicing and perfecting their performance art. Their hard work comes to a crescendo at Poughkeepsie’s historic Bardavon Opera House in February, where the group’s annual gala takes place. There, they perform their repertoire, which includes pieces by outside choreographers, faculty members and even students.

Although Vassar dancers are a diverse group, their passion for dance permeates through them all and trickles down into their experiences even outside of Vassar.  As Kleman said, “[Joining HYPE] actually really made me want to continue dance, and so this summer I took classes at [Alvin] Ailey in my style, contemporary, and this year I hope to be a part of FlyPeople.”

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