Welsh Family Hall DanceFest 2013 brings diversity of dance together
Welsh Family Hall’s annual signature event “DanceFest” opened this weekend in Washington Hall with performances Friday and Saturday night. This year’s dance show, a collaboration between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s dance groups to raise money for charity, featured sets by DanceFest Core, Dance Company, TransPose, ND/SMC Irish Dance Team, Troop ND, Swing Club, Pom Squad, Project Fresh, First Class Steppers and new addition Dance Africa.
Styles of dance varied between ballet, lyrical, hip hop, swing, stepping, Irish dance and jazz. This year’s show included a wide range of popular music, including songs by Michael Buble, Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Imogen Heap, The Sweet, One Direction, Britney Spears, Cali Swag District, Jessie J, Jason Mraz and DJ Drama.
The Friday night performance sold about 214 tickets and the Saturday night performance sold about 245 tickets, with an estimated $2500 raised. The money from ticket sales goes to the Robinson Community Learning Center’s Summer Shakespeare Program for kids ages eight to eighteen.
“This year we sold a combined 460 tickets, which is much higher than previous years,” co-coordinator Katelynn Kelly said. “We’re thrilled to be able to give the RCLC a larger donation than usual.”
The RCLC is an off-campus educational initiative of the President’s Office at the University of Notre Dame in partnership with Northeast Neighborhood residents of South Bend. The RCLC provides community outreach, a tutoring program, a gathering space for residents to meet and interact.
Welsh Family Hall chose the Summer Shakespeare Program because those involved in DanceFest recognized the importance of the arts in all forms and believe all children should have the opportunity to participate regardless of their life circumstances.
The event was started about 10 years ago by a resident of Welsh Family Hall who noticed there was no single dance event in which any group could participate. While there were shows on campus that included dance performances, most of them were geared towards celebrating particular cultures, such as Asian Allure, Black Images, Fiestang, and Latin Expressions.
Co-coordinator Julia McGinty explained that Welsh Family Hall contacts all dance groups listed under performing arts as well as other groups that are known to include dancing. Groups that respond by the deadline and are available to perform are welcomed to participate in the show.
Preparation for the event began as early as last spring when the DanceFest commissioner booked Washington Hall and rehearsal spaces for this year’s performance. Once choreographers were selected, auditions were held early last semester for DanceFest core, the sets made specifically for the show. Each dance in DanceFest core had practice once weekly since September.
The coordinators of this year’s show are Julia McGinty, Monica Spitzer, Danielle Valcourt, Claire Hackman, Katelynn Kelly and Anna Gorman. Others crucial to the success of the performance include mentor and advisor Sister Christine Connolly, Washington Hall Assistant Building Manager Kat Van Vleet, Lights and Technical Director Caitlin Cunningham and the creators of the “Keep Calm and Dance On” show shirts, Midwest Athletic Apparel.
“I think the best things about DanceFest are that it is the only dance show on campus in which every dance group can participate and that the money it raises goes to a foundation that gives kids the opportunity for artistic expression,” co-coordinator Spitzer said. “We are so proud of how well it turned out.”