Rising to the Stage

New Paltz Dance Association held "Dance Underground" from Feb. 23 to Feb. 26.
New Paltz Dance Association held "Dance Underground" from Feb. 23 to Feb. 26.

“Dance Underground” stepped on stage this year as New Paltz’s Dance Association put on their second annual production in McKenna Theatre from Thursday, Feb. 23 to Sunday, Feb. 26.

Following in the footsteps of the annual dance show “Fresh Dance,” which was canceled two years ago, “Dance Underground” was introduced to the student body last year when the Dance Association E-board began collaborating on the project.

The organization was pleased the performances of this year’s “Dance Underground” yielded standing-room-only turnouts.

“What we put into it and what we got out of it really showed that anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” Dance Association President Ian Brodsky said.

The popularity of “Dance Underground” last year encouraged students across campus to help with this year’s production, Brittney Pierri, vice president of the Dance Association, said. Technicians, designers and choreographers were all involved.

Pierri said the perspective of this student-run production has changed.

“Last year, there were people who came up to us and said, ‘There’s no way you’re going to pull this off,’” she said. “This year, people have been coming out of the woodwork to help us with this show by making costumes and devoting so much of their time.”

Choreographers came from all over campus to present their pieces to Dance Association for a chance to perform in the show. Performers were chosen based on potential and the directors helped choreographers develop and expand their pieces.

“When we chose acts, it was less about, ‘Is this bad or good?’ and more about, ‘Does this have the potential to be something?’ It was about taking a small idea and bringing it to life,” Brodsky said.

The performers and choreographers featured in “Dance Underground” exhibited different techniques, with the music and dancing styles ranging from hip-hop and contemporary to lyrical pieces.

Featured performers included campus-based groups, like the New Paltz Dance Team and the Warriors Dance Team. At “Dance Underground,” there was also a guest performance by Energy Dance Company, a youth dance group based in Kingston.

Although the show’s popularity from last year translated into this year’s publicity, the Dance Association E-board still found creative ways to advertise for the production. Using a tactic they nicknamed “guerilla warfare advertising,” they publicized the event in the strangest ways, in hopes that their creativity would draw attention from potential audience members, fourth-year theater major and Dance Association advisor Simoné Bart said.

“Whether we stuck Post-its to tables in the library or typed ‘Dance Underground’ as the username on computers, we got our name out there any way we could,” Bart said. “Sure people threw away the Post-its or deleted our name, but they read it, and hopefully if they read it, they’d decide to come.”

This year, Dance Association said they scheduled four performances. Bart said the audiences each night were solid, and got better and better as the performances grew.

“It’s all about the audience,” Bart said. “Last year, one girl came up to me crying and said that she was skeptical about the show but that it surpassed the caliber of ‘Fresh Dance.’ That’s why we’re doing this: for them.”