Performers and fellow Bobcats alike experienced the diversity of dance while “traveling around the world” at the annual Dance Coalition event the evening of February 26 in the Lakireddy Auditorium.
Presenting various styles of dance, Dance Coalition (D. Co.) is a group of young men and women whose interest and efforts in dance allow them to express some of the many global styles in unique and beautiful ways.
The evening featured seven types of dances, each choreographed and performed entirely by UC Merced students, based on music ranging from contemporary and Hawaiian tunes, to French ballet and Polynesian songs.
Destination one was France, in which the audience was captivated by an elegant ballet routine choreographed by first-year D. Co. member, Kelsie Morris, who performed with fellow dancers to “Satin Birds” by Abel Korzeniowski.
“I started developing the routine with the music first, then it all came together from there because my body flowed with the music,” explained Morris. Morris started performing at a young age at various locations throughout southern California, leading her to become an experienced ballet dancer.
“I was asked to choreograph the ballet dance which was something I hadn’t done in a while. I had previously never taught anyone over the age of 13 when I taught for two years in SoCal before I transferred here,” said Morris.
Next, the audience was given a taste of India through a Bhangra dance, choreographed by Archana Sethi. Bhangra is a style of dance that originated in Punjab, India and integrates Punjabi songs with Western style music. The number was both fast and lively, making it a different style than the calmer, more elegant Hawaiian and Polynesian routines that followed.
“It was pretty intense and very energetic. It kept the people entertained,” said freshman Meley Abraha, who was glad she attended the event. “I thought the dancers did an amazing job.”
Ohana at UC Merced took the audience to the islands of Hawaii and Polynesia in two graceful dances, each with its own sharp moves and intense detail. Both Hawaiian and Polynesian dances involve swift movements of one’s hips which move to the native music, reminding everyone of the relaxing atmosphere characteristic of the world’s tropical islands.
From sand and sun to the elaborate clothing of Mexico, the Ballet Folklorico dancers performed a Folklorico piece in which the women wore long brightly colored dresses and the men wore traditional matching pants and jackets. Originally from Italy, the Folklorico dance is also well known in Mexico. Its routine is comprised of various musical pieces that reflect significant Mexican traditions and pastimes.
The colors and inviting music of the Folklorico dance were engaging, preparing the audience for the familiar Contemporary/Jazz piece which followed; “Not Over You” by Gavin Degraw (choreographed by Vanessa Rafanan).
“This dance was really cool because it used good music and had a creative routine. The song went well with the style of the dance,” said Abraha.
Next, the 50s-themed swing dance promoted a fun and welcoming environment for all, conveying the lively, catchy music and dance trends that were present in the 50s. The number was choreographed by Kelsie Morris, and set to “I’m Beginning to See the Light” by Michael Buble.
One of UC Merced’s favorite styles, the Hip-Hop dance, was choreographed by Geramie Gerona and Dance Coalition President, Mariel Mendoza.
“Through this show I was glad to be able to show the audience that there is more to dance than just hip-hop; there are many different styles,” said Mendoza. “I wanted everyone to appreciate the beauty of dancing.”
As a third-time D. Co. member, Mendoza envisioned a new dance group that would perform various styles when she earned the position of President. “I wanted to see a change in D. Co. and thought, 'Why not try different styles, instead of just hip-hop?’”
As President, she treasures her relationships with fellow dancers. “I really like working with other members. I’m a person who gives out orders but feels like a team member,” said Mendoza. She views D. Co as “a place where one isn’t afraid to try new things, even if you don’t have that much experience, you learn and grow.”
The show was a success for all, and one that will occur annually in the future.