New Paltz Dance Association Hosts Annual “Dance Underground”

NPDA provides a necessary space when considering New Paltz does not have a dance major. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Bush.

The packed theater buzzed with anticipation as audience members eagerly awaited the dark curtains to open, revealing 2024’s “Dance Underground:” a two-hour choreographed dancing spectacle, the culmination of nearly seven months of demanding preparation.  

The New Paltz Dance Association (NPDA) held their annual “Dance Underground” performance on March 15-16 in SUNY New Paltz’s Studley Theater.

The show featured 19 choreographed dances that were created by the NPDA with four guest groups contributing one additional dance each. All of the 23 tightly-scheduled routines led to passionate claps and cheers from the audience.

The NPDA is a fully student-run SUNY New Paltz dance organization that, in addition to hosting events like “Dance Underground,” holds open dance classes and workshops with visiting professionals. “Dance Underground” is NPDA’s largest annual event, requiring more than a semester of auditions, choreography, rehearsals and logistical planning. 

“Being able to see the show come together in one piece and see all of our audience members enjoying it and see all the good pictures and videos we’re going to take … I’m so excited to see the whole thing come together,” said Alyssa Bush, apparel manager for the NPDA’s E-board, dancer and choreographer in this year’s event. 

The NPDA has been hosting “Dance Underground” annually — aside from a break due to the coronavirus pandemic — since its debut in 2011. 

Originally created in response to the discontinuation of “Fresh Dance,” a similar annual dance event previously hosted by the SUNY New Paltz department of theatre arts that ended following the resignation of its then-director, Yoav Kaddar, “Dance Underground” has since evolved into a fully student-led operation. 

Countless moving parts must come together in order to host “Dance Underground,” a task that can be demanding for students balancing NPDA responsibilities with a full class schedule, social lives and jobs.

“Me, the rest of the E-board, the rest of the club, we’ve all put in so much hard work between lack of studio space, lack of stage space, getting in as many rehearsals as we can,” said Bush.

As a growing community, the NPDA prides itself on being a collective that is open to dancers of all skill levels and backgrounds.

“Anyone can choreograph. Anyone can join a dance. It’s pretty much open to anyone,” said Makayla Witherell, secretary for the NPDA’s E-board and dancer and choreographer at this year’s event. 

The NPDA has also been trying to expand the styles of dance highlighted in the show. This year featured two ballet dances, a first for “Dance Underground.” 

The four guest groups, New Paltz Dance Team, Nova, Nachle and Smacc, added to the diversity by performing crowd-favorite jazz, K-Pop, Bollywood fusion and hip-hop style dances, respectively. 

Despite this year’s “Dance Underground” curtain just closing, members of the NPDA are already looking forward to dazzling audiences once again with next year’s performance. 

“I’m super excited to choreograph for next year,” said Bush. “I have a lot of ideas and a lot of songs I’d like to use, and I’m really excited.” 

Keep up with the NPDA through their Instagram and Tik Tok, @npdanceassociation, and their YouTube channel, New Paltz Dance Association. 

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