Warriors Dance for Revival

This semester, the Warriors performed at Relay for Life, as well as the New Paltz Dance Team’s and Dance Association’s shows. Photo by John Humphrey.

The Warriors Dance Team performs not only with their bodies, but with their hearts and souls.

The team of nine women is dedicated to embracing womanhood, creativity and individuality, according to co-presidents Teresa Kurtz and Kassandra Kanhai.

“We don’t care where you come from,” Kurtz said. “Just as long as you have passion in your heart, really feel the music, are energized by it and have the ability and craving to dance four days a week with a team.”

The dancers have been gearing up for their annual spring show, which will take place on Friday, May 5 at 8 p.m. at McKenna Theater. The show will feature guest performances from other dance and vocal groups on campus, as well.

With the show’s theme of “Revival,” the Warriors hope to promote balance, healing and being there for one another. They will perform jazz, hip-hop, modern, lyrical and tap dances, each choreographed by a different team member. 

Kurtz’s piece is a modern dance which will be performed to a poem she wrote about sexual assault and Kanhai’s piece is a jazz piece set to the song “Black & Gold” which will represent fierceness and womanhood. 

“Everyone has the opportunity to choreograph and we really, really encourage that creativity,” Kurtz said. “The presidents will step down and for a few days the choreographer will take the stage and direct.”

Each dance also has its own outfit, which the team keeps simple, such as a crop top, flannel and shorts. 

“It adds more individuality,” Kurtz said. “We don’t look like a kickline. We are not molds to fill, we are all different and we can bring that into certain dances.”

Both second-year students, Kurtz, an English major, and Kanhai, an accounting major, joined the team last year. They both have been dancing all their lives and joined the team not just for its passion of dance, but for its nurturing, friendly vibe.

“I really like how close we are as a team,” Kanhai said. “People could be having a bad day and we can tell.”

Fourth-year communication disorders major Alexis D’Antoni joined the team this semester and has shared a similar experience as her presidents. 

“Our group chat is filled with encouraging words and compliments to keep the positive energy going,” she said. “Everyone is honest and genuine — we uplift each other. I found a family in such a short time.”

Kurtz says that this closeness helps the team with certain areas of dance that often trip teams up, such as timing and moving as a unit. The team participates in confidence building activities during practices, such as passing a ball of yarn in a circle and giving and receiving compliments until there is a web of string connecting the group.

“We try to do exercises or relate to one another so that it brings us together and we can move as one unit,” Kurtz said. “When we’re more in tune with each other, we can dance better together.”

With the big show coming up, emotions tend to run high in preparation. The team has been running each dance to perfect it for Friday night’s performance and cleaning up dances that need refining.

“I see the Warriors as improvement and hard work, especially with our show,” Kanhai said. “Looking at the dances now, the dancers who joined at the beginning of the semester, how much they’ve improved and what a beautiful show we can put on is just what brings everyone together and why everyone wants to come back to practice and work hard.”