POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Marist College Dance Ensemble, known colloquially as MCDE, will finally be showcasing their talents when they hold their annual performance ‘MOVE’ this upcoming weekend.
MCDE, created in 1997, is just one of the many clubs you will be able to find on the Marist College campus, however, this club is unique because it is completely student-run. MCDE is filled with diverse dancers and is considered one of the largest clubs on campus, with over 200 students involved. MCDE gives students the opportunity to teach, perform, and enjoy the performing arts. Dancers, students, parents, grandparents and even professors and staff look forward to watching the performances every semester. Just like any extracurricular activity, MCDE is a great way to meet friends, earn priority points, and connect through a common interest – dance.
Each annual showcase is choreographed and performed by students who are heavily involved in making the club flourish. Choreographers and dancers execute dance styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, lyrical, pointe, kick-line, and Irish step. Including a plethora of dance styles gives dancers the opportunity to try a style that may be out of their comfort zone or one that they’ve never personally tried before. Members of the club will meet once a week for an hour to rehearse and learn new choreography. Dancers are allowed to be in up to six dances per semester.
The week before the show is considered “hell week”. This nickname has been passed down for years now because it is a week of jam packed rehearsals leading up to the big performances. “Hell week” is known for being extremely exhausting and stressful because dancers are required to attend every single rehearsal. However, all of their hard work will pay off once the curtain goes up. Students who are involved in the club can gain priority points which will then go towards housing for the following year. MCDE members will gain one priority point for attending the meetings – however, you are allowed to miss one meeting a semester. If you are unable to attend meetings, you can participate in another two projects or committees to receive your second priority point.
Senior Gabriela Morris talks about her experience as a choreographer in MCDE as well as her thoughts about choreographing with diverse dancers and backgrounds. “I have choreographed three dances for MCDE all of which were considered beginner and intermediate level dances. I have choreographed contemporary, tap and contemporary jazz. I did one my spring semester freshman year with my friend Harley Chase who was a Junior at the time. I did another during the fall of my sophomore year, and now I am choreographing again this semester,” Morris said.
Not only is this club a great way for students to get involved socially and physically on campus, but above all, it gives anyone the opportunity to dance, regardless of their prior experience. Whether you have danced with the New York City Ballet, or have never danced before, the classes range from beginner to advanced. In some cases this can be a hard challenge to tackle, especially as a choreographer. “The one challenge I see in teaching dancers who are on different levels is that it is hard to blend all types of background experience and dance styles. It is hard when you have one intermediate dancer and one advanced dancer in the same setting. My goal as a choreographer is for them to both meet in the middle,” Morris said.
The way dancers are placed into a dance is solely based off of whoever emails the choreographer the fastest. Some may say the emailing process is a little bit like the hunger games. If a dancer wishes to be involved in a particular dance, he or she must immediately email the choreographer of that dance – this process takes place on a predetermined date and time every semester. For the fall of 2017, it happened on September 8. The first 25-30 people to email that choreographer will be accepted into that dance.
Morris expressed her thoughts surrounding the emailing process. “I understand the fairness of the emailing process-however, auditions might be beneficial in that it gives dancers the opportunity to audition in front of a panel and to see what level they would be most suited for,” Morris said. Auditions are a great tool for any performer because it gives them the opportunity to become more aware of the things that they need to improve on when moving forward.
Morris expressed her personal thoughts regarding her teaching techniques. “I like to find a medium between pushing my dancers so that they have something to work and strive towards but I also don’t want the process to be extremely challenging so that they run away and get discouraged,” Morris said. She later went on to talk about her personal favorite piece she has gotten the opportunity to choreograph while being a part of MCDE. “My favorite dance that I’ve choreographed is the dance I am currently working on this semester. I think that ‘Car Radio’ relays an important message for the audience and the dancers have a lot to work with emotionally and physically,” Morris said.
The show dates are Saturday, November 11 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, November 12 at 2 p.m. at the Poughkeepsie High School. Doors will be open one hour prior to the show start time. The general admission is $12 and the student and senior discount is $7. Students will be able to purchase a ticket in the Champagnat breezeway on Wednesday, November 8 and Thursday, November 9 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. There will be buses available in the Midrise parking lot to bring students from Marist to the Poughkeepsie High School who wish to see the show but do not have a car on campus.