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Renaissance: A Festival in McManus for the Dance Company’s Fall Showcase

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Enrique Muchacho

McManus Theater came to life with music and cheers this past weekend as the Loyola Dance Company performed its annual fall showcase, “Renaissance,” on Dec. 1 and 3. 

The Loyola Dance Company has been presenting this annual showcase at the end of each semester for more than 20 years. Tickets are a hot commodity among the Loyola community, with both performances selling out days before the show. Even President Terrence M. Sawyer was in the audience, cheering and congratulating the dancers on an incredible showcase alongside his wife Courtney Sawyer.

Kristine Deiss

Part of the reason why the showcase is so popular is due to the size of the Dance Company itself. It is the largest student-run organization on campus, and people line up outside the box office in order to support their friends and fellow dancers of all skill levels and experiences.

“That’s a big focus, is that we want [the Dance Company] to be inclusive for all people,” Carissa Cordero ’24 said, one of two Dance Company senior officers. 

Cordero has been dancing in the Dance Company since sophomore year when it relaunched after Covid. 

“You get to experience a lot of the camaraderie. I think that it’s really special to have such a big community, and a lot of people feel connected even if they don’t dance together,” she said.

Fellow senior and Dance Company teacher Liz Mezzina ’24 has also been dancing since sophomore year. She echoes the sentiment, calling the Dance Company a positive and safe space on campus. 

Kristine Deiss

“There are so many different levels of talent, but at the end of the day we’re all screaming our support for everyone. It’s just a group of people who all have a love and passion for dance coming together to create art. To me, dance is one of the most beautiful forms of art,” Mezzina said.

While the “behind-the-scenes” of practicing, bonding, and laughing together before the showcase can be one of the most fun parts, for senior officer Nicole Scott ’24, planning the showcase and keeping track of all the logistical moving parts can almost feel like a full-time job. That doesn’t stop her however from feeling the rush of happiness and community that comes with delivering a successful showcase. 

“It definitely is a lot of work, but seeing the show come together and how happy it makes all our dancers to participate and come together as a group makes it all worth it,” Scott said.

This fall’s theme, “Renaissance,” was suggested by junior officer Jackie Lewis on the heels of Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour from May to October of this year. The theme inspired many hip-hop dances in the showcase, which are always a crowd favorite. Audience participation is encouraged by the officers and creates a wonderful and welcoming experience; especially for the closing dance in particular, a Beyonce-themed dance by Grey Hip-Hop.

Queen B’s high-grossing tour wasn’t the only inspiration behind this decision. Cordero explains that the officers have been making small changes to shake up the status quo and take the Dance Company in a positive direction. One such change is that, in an effort to be more sustainable, the company ordered new costumes for only two dances, rather than the seven or eight dances in previous showcases.

“People used clothes that they already had in their closets and shared items with other dancers. It was a good effort of collaboration to reduce buying new clothes for just one show and reduce our consumption,” Cordero said.

In addition, to lower the barrier of entry for those who have never tried dance before, the officers also introduced a new element for the Dance Company: open classes. These beginner classes take place in the FAC and are open to all Loyola students regardless of experience. This semester, the Dance Company offered four different Sunday evening classes in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary dance. The classes are the officers’ way of introducing a low-commitment way to explore the beauty of dance without the pressure of performing on stage.

If you missed the sold out shows this past weekend, you’ll have another chance to catch the dancers in the Dance Company’s Spring Showcase, their second annual show of the year. Looking forward, these seniors express simultaneous excitement and sadness for their last opportunity to share the stage all together.

“I’m super excited for next semester, but it also makes me sad because it is our last semester and I really think that [Cordero and I] have gained a lot of confidence in our position as Dance Company officers, so I feel like we’ve really grown,” Scott said. “I’ve gotten a lot more attached than I thought I was going to and I’m excited for next semester, but I’m also sad.”

Cordero and Mezzina agreed, feeling almost like their first dance company showcases were just yesterday. 

“I love this club and I’m devastated to be leaving next semester. I actually can’t talk about it or I’ll start sobbing,” Mezzina said.

For more information on upcoming open classes, tryouts, and performances, or just to keep up with the Loyola Dance Company, follow them on Instagram.

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