The result was the creation of Dancing and Stepping at Amherst College (DASAC), a group of students who share a love of modern dance. Goode forged this new club while teaching dance classes in the Octagon and managed to secure a “decent budget” from the SFC for necessities such as costumes and music. With a busy schedule of performances in the near future, this new dance organization will soon be a familiar name among the Amherst student body.
Hip-Hop Hopes Realized
The dancers take advantage of this opportunity to perform new genres of dance. “There was never a strong program with hip-hop or step before. It brings people together in the dance community who enjoy this style of dance,” said Leigh Burwell ’03, a member of the group.
The style of dance consists primarily of hip-hop, which members say is a refreshing change from traditional dance classes. Step dancing, the art of producing rhythm by creative stamping, clapping and using other parts of one’s body, is also an integral part of the group’s performances. “It is similar to the dancing one would see in music videos by Mya, Janet Jackson or Britney Spears,” explained Goode.
A club based on teaching and performing, DASAC is divided into two sections: beginner classes held on Friday evenings and an advanced group for performing, which requires a higher commitment level. The latter group is comprised of 14 advanced performers who are expected to attend weekend rehearsals.
This select group includes those who feel they are adequately experienced in terms of performance and can promise a large amount of commitment, as well as those personally invited by Goode.
While all current members are women, there are some men that have expressed interest in joining the group, according to Goode.
DASAC has helped to increase the breadth as well as accessibility of dance at Amherst. “Until recently, there did not seem to be a cohesive Amherst dance community, and many students had to take Five-College dance classes,” said Burwell.
Lusha Ding ’04 expressed similar disappointment at the previous lack of stepping opportunities on campus, and said she is also appreciative of the recreational value and leadership provided by the new club: “Jocelyn uses songs that people actually enjoy. It’s a great getaway and a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Currently, Goode is the only choreographer and director, but she hopes to have the more advanced dancers to do some teaching, especially in preparation for a larger show during second semester.
Vaulting Into Visibility
Those eating dinner in Valentine at 6:30 this past Sunday may have caught a brief surprise performance by DASAC in the center of the dining area. The event was designed to provide an introduction to the work and direction of this new assemblage of dancers by way of a short interruption of students’ ordinary dinner rituals.
“I thought it was very creative and energetic,” said Katayun Adhami ’04, who is involved in other dance forms at Amherst. “Unfortunately, we don’t normally see this particular type of dance very often on campus; it is one that many students have talent in but it’s one that they rarely get the chance to express.”
Students present enjoyed the performance, and the timing and location of the teaser seemed successful in piquing student interest in the group.
For DASAC’s next performance, the club will join other groups in opening for b-boy group Urban Mechanix tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. They will also perform in the Amherst Dance concert on Nov. 5. The halftime show during this semester’s homecoming game will tentatively feature the dancers as well, as they seek to find an additional venue during sports events.
The group already has events in mind for next semester, reflecting their desire to increase their visibility on campus. “We plan on hosting a spring show, and we would also like to perform at some basketball halftimes,” said Goode.
Given the recent installation of cheerleaders at Williams College, however, Goode is quick to combat the tendency to find similarities between their performances and the function of cheerleaders. “This is not a cheerleading group-we are dancers. We will show support for teams at times, but our main concern is putting on shows and developing our skills as dancers, choreographers and performers,” she said.
Some dancers view DASAC as their answer to a club sport. “Aside from it being a great workout, I like the fact that it is also a way to really move to the music as an art,” said DASAC member Catherine Jun ’01E. “You really get carried away and learn to move in ways that you might not normally.”
Students say their participation in DASAC is an effective outlet for stress and creative energy, as well as an opportunity to expand their talents as dancers. “The satisfaction comes from seeing moves that just came to me on a whim develop into full, energetic dances,” explained Goode.
DASAC was formed out of a common passion for hip-hop dance and step, which has resulted in a high level of commitment from its members. “I love the idea that my dancers are women from all different backgrounds and body types who can perform with attitude, sass and confidence,” said Goode.