Gracious jumps, long leaps, constant turns and precise leg work make up the New Paltz Dance Team choreography for the annual “Dance Underground” performance on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 at the McKenna Theatre.
Dressed in all black in what seemed like a sauna temperature room, all 16 members focused on the direction of their captains, fourth-year students Amy Dinoff and Christina Lizzo, in preparation for their anticipated performance.
The New Paltz Dance Team (NPDT) is a completely student-run club that features various forms of dance from contemporary to jazz and hip hop, with performances at the men’s and women’s basketball games during halftime. In February, the team gets to showcase their talents at Dance Underground, an annual event sponsored by the SUNY New Paltz Dance Association, presenting the work from various dance groups on campus such as the Warriors Dance Team and the Swing Dance Club. At the end of the spring semester, the team also organizes a performance that showcases all of the routines they have worked on throughout the school year, with each member having the chance to choreograph their own routine.
To join, though, is no easy process. Students are required to audition by following the choreography the caption demonstrates. After several rounds, the captains choose which dancers have the potential to keep up with the routine. Students must also audition every year, regardless of how many semesters they’ve been part of the team.
“You need to be fast and quick on your feet. All of the girls in the team have dance experience or a background in dance,” Dinoff said, when explaining the hectic schedule that comes with joining.
Practice is three times a week, which includes not only learning a routine but also cardio, stretches and basic training techniques.
“It’s all about practice, practice, practice,”Dinoff said. “If it matters to you, you’ll make time for it, it comes down to that.”
Despite the amount of work, members of the team don’t regret joining the club and consider it a great way to get rid of the stress of school work and any other external issues.
“Whenever I’m stressed, or feel like I’m being pulled in a billion different directions, I can always rely on team practices to let me put everything behind me and focus on myself and relax with my friends,” said third year student Sami Grober, who joined NPDT in 2015.
The use of dance as a way of expression is also a positive aspect that the members enjoy. Dinoff noted that sometimes, there are feelings one cannot express, but through dance, those emotions become clear. One not only grows as a dancer, but also as a person.
“Before joining the team, I never realized how I lacked a little bit of self-confidence, but as the years have gone by, the team has helped me develop into a person who is not afraid to have their voice heard or dance with hundreds of people watching,” said Grober.
You can see NPDT in action for free at “Dance Underground” on the dates listed above at 2 p.m.