The Collegian
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

13th Annual Celebration of Dance: A spotlight for the dancers at UR

<p>Ngoma African Dance Company, the last performance of the night, receives large cheers from the crowd on October 21 at the Alice Jepson Theatre in Modlin Center of the Arts.&nbsp;</p>

Ngoma African Dance Company, the last performance of the night, receives large cheers from the crowd on October 21 at the Alice Jepson Theatre in Modlin Center of the Arts. 

The Department of Theater and Dance hosted its 13th annual Celebration of Dance Oct. 21 and received the largest turnout to date, Alicia Díaz, professor of dance said.

The 13th Celebration of Dance featured 10 performances done by various groups and independent choreographers. The crowd enjoyed performances by Block Crew, Bollywood Jhatkas, Ritmo Latino, SpinnURs, Ngoma African Dance Company. Independent performances were done by senior Caitlin Henderson, first-year Caroline Perry, senior Kiran Saini and sophomore Muskan Agarwal, junior Maggie Crowe and senior Katherine Goldbach Ehmer  and junior Paul Ochen.

Díaz introduced the event as a way of creating community through dance and arts by showcasing student-led work. 

“I wanted to share that we need this kind of energy, this collaboration and willingness to be with each other now more than ever, when there’s so much violence and suffering in the world, because artists are often at the forefront of necessary change in our society,” Díaz said in her opening speech as a response to President Kevin Hallock’s email about the violence surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict.  

This performance featured two new additions: the first tap dance performance in the history of Celebration on Dance, performed by Perry, and a dance film, created by Henderson, who is currently abroad.

The choreographers of Block Crew, sophomore Dalin Sao and junior Clayvon Grimes, shared how significant the Celebration of Dance is to the community.

“It is a time and space for people who have a passion and love for dance to come together and showcase what they have been doing and what they love,” Sao said. “COD is that amazing space where we all come together and show the variety of colors of dances that are on campus.”

Grimes shared the importance of Celebration of Dance on the team-building at Block Crew.

“It’s our first performance of the year,” he said. “The team’s getting closer, and it’s a really fun and special event that I’m glad the university hosts to highlight the arts.”

Grimes emphasized the significance of Celebration of Dance in creating a space through which choreographers are able to show their hard work. 

“I’m really excited this year because I am on the choreography team. I made one of the dances. It’s really special for me to be able to showcase my dance as well,” Grimes said. 

Another member of Block Crew, junior Cheryl Oppan, shared what the preparation process looked like.

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“We have rehearsals twice a week, and they go for two hours. Every rehearsal has been dedicated to practicing our pieces. It takes a lot of work,” Oppan said.

Sophomores Denis Velazquez and Raf Cruz, co-presidents of Ritmo Latino, said dance is an important tool of expression in Latino culture.

“Dance brings laughs and smiles, and it brings everybody together,” Velazquez said.

Sophomore Simran Gupta, a member of the Bollywood Jhatkas, shared a similar sense of dance’s contribution to culture.

“I love being on stage with a bunch of people who want to be there and show off what we have got,” Gupta said.

Although most dancers worked independently or alongside a group on campus, the Celebration of Dance featured a dance company as well – the Ngoma African Dance Company. 

First-year Meklet Berihun said performing with Ngoma at Celebration of Dance is a way to show culture and the vast number of ways people can express themselves. 

“If people have an interest in dance, they could get to know other groups in Richmond, because they’re all open groups,” Berihun said, inviting people with a shared passion for dance to join one of the various groups celebrated at Celebration of Dance.

Contact writer Farah Sertovic at

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