New dance group Doubletime values synergy, variety

New dance pre-org “Doubletime” was founded as a space in which choreographers could create pieces of any style, size or difficulty level, from a solo hip-hop piece to a Contemporary duet. Their inagural performance was on Feb. 16 in the Villard Room. Yijia Hu/The Miscellany News.

Dance is an eclectic art form that encompasses a wide range of skills, methodologies and genres. Six Vassar students founded the new pre-org VC Doubletime as a space in which dancers with varying levels of experience and specialties could collaborate and grow as performers. Their Inaugural Spring Show on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Villard Room featured seven pieces that manifested their vision of diversity and inclusivity.

There is no shortage of dance organizations on campus: VRDT, Vass Shakers and Hype, just to name a few. However, the Doubletime’s executive board created the group out of frustration over limitations in Vassar’s dance culture. Doubletime Co-Social Media Chair Erin Byrne ’20 articulated the founders’ motivations: “[W]e felt there wasn’t a space on campus that would allow both new and experienced dancers to grow and improve as dancers. Basically, the other dance orgs are either audition based, and therefore exclusive, or are completely geared towards beginners, or only do a specific type of dance.”

Doubletime President Taylor Lodise ’19 further expounded on why their org is necessary. She explained: “[W]hat makes us unique is the opportunity for choreographers to create anything they imagine, ranging from a solo to a duo, trio, small group or even a huge group piece..”

This feature of Doubletime was evident throughout their performance. Lodise choreographed and starred in a duet with Byrne titled “Always,” which was accompanied by Lady Gaga’s “Is That Alright?” Eric Feeney ’22 also took advantage of the group’s openness; he choreographed a solo titled “Hold My Heart” set to Ed Sheeran’s “Grade 8.”

Feeney shared his experience in an email interview: “The Doubletime Exec Board has been very helpful and accommodating with whatever I needed to make my solo successful. I would say my dance is really about looking for something or someone that makes you happy amid the stress of life.

Other choreographers included Julia Martinez Franks ’19, Cait Lewis ’21 and Anna Sesonske ’21; their pieces were respectively titled “Black and Gold,” “Favorite Color is Blue” and “Eluded.” In addition to “Always,” Lodise composed “Kommt ein Vogel geflogen” and “Way Down Low.”

In an email interview, attendee Zoe Camhi ’21 complimented the dedication and ardor of the dancers: “I was impressed by all of the pieces. The choreography was really interesting and fun to watch, but what I really noticed was the passion that all of the dancers clearly expressed during the pieces. Everything was very powerful and a lot of work clearly went into the production of the show.

The executive board urges all curious students to attend their General Body meetings, which occur every Wednesday in Kenyon Studio 2 from 7-8 p.m. “I would tell anyone who is interested to stop by and give it a try,” Lodise exclaimed. “[We’ve] been working on org bonding and planning optional time to spend with each other as a group beyond the weekly dance time; we really love getting to know our members and are aiming for a strong sense of community.”

This stated goal of a Doubletime family is already developing. For example, despite the group’s novelty, it already has unique and established traditions. One of them involves the name “Doubletime,” which refers to a common exercise of dancers to experiment with movement by counting the music at half-time. Although Lodise described their naming process as fairly spontaneous, the group has taken the name to heart and now concludes their General Body meetings by practicing choreography at twice the speed.

Feeney believes the executive board succeeded in forging an accessible yet challenging space. “I’ve had a lot of fun learning so many choreographies of different styles, and I’m glad that I joined in the fall,” he stated.

The executive board believed the inaugural performance to be an auspicious indication of Doubletime’s future. Although three board members are seniors, they trust that the group will continue to flourish. Byrne explained, “We’re hoping to expand our org in the years to come and have it continue to be a supportive and inclusive environment that brings people together through a shared love of dance.” Lodise echoed this sentiment: “We would love for the org’s vibrancy and enthusiasm to live on in the years to come, as well as the endless creativity that its choreographers and dancers bring to the table.”

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