In back-to-back performances – each one featuring 175 students across 27 dazzling pieces of choreography- this year’s annual Koshare Dance Collective production had a record-setting weekend with the most student contributors and largest attendance in program history.
Held at the Smith Center for the Arts in downtown Geneva, Koshare drew nearly 2,000 attendees to its Friday and Saturday concerts, which showcased an array of student-choreographed dance pieces including African, step, modern dance, tap, hip-hop, tango, ballet and jazz. A portion of the proceeds raised from ticket sales will support The Smith Opera House’s purchase of lighting equipment for dance.
“This year’s performance was very successful,” says Koshare co-president Caroline Demeter ’15. “We had the most dancers to ever participate in Koshare and we had a full house at the Smith Opera House both nights with students, faculty, staff, parents, friends and Geneva community members.”
Choreographed or co-choreographed by 31 students, all Koshare dancers and choreographers are students. Anyone can join the student-run organization – no matter the experience level. Some students involved in Koshare are dance majors and minors, but others are performing or choreographing for the first time.
“Koshare is an inclusive event that has been lovely to take part in,” says Namboowa Bakiika ’15, a member of Koshare who performed in “DL9373” and “Ladies of the Dance” during the 2014 show. “What I love most about it is how it gathers the campus community together in the masses and is a great way to meet peers from different class years.”
Leading up to the weekend shows, Demeter and Kathryn Bezbatchenko ’15 dedicated a significant portion of their time since last year’s event to produce this year’s Koshare line-up. Professor of Dance Donna Davenport, faculty adviser for Koshare, works closely with Koshare board members on logistics of the production from late spring through the concert weekend in November. Davenport says, “It is a profound joy for me to collaborate on a project of this magnitude, to use dance and artistic expression as conduits for unity and celebration of difference at HWS.” Kelly Bradley, executive director of The Smith Center for the Arts, started working with Davenport last year, to premiere the first ever Koshare concert at The Smith in 2013.
“Preparation for Koshare is a full-year commitment for the Koshare board members with fundraising and planning,” Demeter says. “For the dancers and choreographers, Koshare starts the first week of school with auditions.”
Demeter says dancers attend up to three dance rehearsals a week depending on how many dances they’re involved in. She says “tech week” took place the week of the show for almost five hours each night running through each piece. Mark Wenderlich, the Dance Department’s lighting designer and technical director, works closely with stage manager Mariana Bell ’16 to create lighting for each dance, train student crew members, and insure a smooth-running show.
As part of the 2014 production, the Colleges’ step team Hip Notiqs performed two exciting pieces, and the hip-hop dance collective, the Executives, closed the show, leading into a grand bow with dozens of dancers. “Kudos to Professor Davenport for her guidance of the dancers, naturally, and to the technical crew, and especially to the choreographers and dancers,” says Associate Professor of Geoscience David Kendrick, who attended the Friday evening performance. “We saw some great moments and joy throughout the performance.”
By welcoming members of the local and HWS community into the world of artistic expression through dance, Koshare does its part to support arts endeavors in Geneva.
Bradley says the Koshare production is one of many ways in which The Smith and Colleges are connected.
“The students were wonderful. They were so excited about dancing on the stage and they truly respected the theater,” Bradley says. “It was an opportunity for families to come and see their children or grandchildren.”
Recently, the HWS Orientation Variety Show was held at the Smith. There have also been speakers, film screenings and many other special events.
With Koshare taking place in downtown Geneva, the local impact that such a performance has was significant.
“It was a phenomenal display of unity and diversity and creativity,” says Professor of Art and Architecture Ted Aub, adding it was an impressive show that was a great reflection of HWS and Geneva.