SU DanceWorks presents annual spring showcase “VOGUE”

DanceWorks presents annual spring showcase

The student dance organization shows off their year-long hard work and preparation with 18 choreographed pieces.
Published: March 6, 2023 | Updated: March 21st, 2023 at 10:20 am
Dancers in the Queens of Pop dance, choreographed by Averey Esposito and senior Sam Halperin at the opening night of Vogue.
Averey Esposito and senior Sam Halperin choreographed an upbeat hip-hop dance to "Queens of Pop."

Syracuse University dance group, DanceWorks, presented their “VOGUE” showcase on Friday and Saturday night in Goldstein Auditorium in front of friends, family and students. The annual spring production featured two acts packed with 18 dance numbers, ranging from jazz and hip-hop, to contemporary and tap styles.

The spring showcase honored VOGUE with an upbeat opening number to Madonna’s hit song, “Vogue,” and a closing number to a high-intensity dance to a compilation of the top hits from the “Queen of Pop.” The rest of the show displayed a wide range of music, with all-time classic songs like “Somebody to Love” by Queen and “Vienna” by Billy Joel. It also featured many current hits, such as “Mr. Morale” by Kendrick Lamar, “Latch,” by Disclosure and a Rihanna mix.

Each dance number was preceded by a short video from the choreographer(s), introducing the song and meaning behind the dance. To add energy to the atmosphere of the auditorium, the show used fog machines, strobe lights and colorful backgrounds.

Dancers in Above the Clouds, the last piece that friends and seniors, Avery Gunderson and Liz Melo choreographed together at the opening night of Vogue.

Dancers in "Above the Clouds," the last piece that friends and seniors, Avery Gunderson and Liz Melo, choreographed together.

Dancers in Holding Back, the first dance Elbe VanBeuren has choreographed for Danceworks at the opening night of Vogue.

Elbe VanBeuren made her choreography debut with the dance, "Holding Back."

DanceWorks is the largest student-run dance organization at SU, with around 100 dancers and 20 choreographers. Jensen Bee, Choreography Chair, says the organization is special because of the variety.

“It’s such a crowd pleaser just because there’s so many diverse dancers that are within it,” Bee said. “It’s dependent on the choreographers, what the concept of their dances are and what styles they’re picking out.”

This year, Bee co-choreographed the opening and closing numbers, in addition to her own dance with 13 dancers to “Somebody to Love,” by Queen. Bee chose the rock classic because it’s her dad’s favorite genre of music, and because she is drawn to energetic dance numbers.

“It’s a very fast-paced athletic dance, but there’s a lot of big moments and soft moments and I really love that kind of dichotomy of all of it,” Bee said. “And paired with just such a powerful and iconic song, I hope I do it justice.”

With so many dancers, and 18 dances to choreograph, preparation for the show starts in the fall, according to Bee. Dancers auditioned at the beginning of the fall semester and began weekly rehearsals as early as September. Each dance gets a one-hour practice slot a week, meaning members can range from one to over seven hours of rehearsal a week depending on how many dances they are in and if they choreograph.

“It’s kind of an exhausting but really rewarding process,” Bee said.

First-year members can participate in up to three dances, translating into about 3 hours of practice a week, says freshman Brie Iaia. Being her first show, Iaia danced in two hip-hop numbers and one contemporary dance.

Prepping for the DanceWorks show has only been a positive experience for Iaia.

“Rehearsals each week were always so fun and lighthearted,” Iaia said. “I would encourage anyone interested to audition, because there are so many styles offered and lots of opportunities for everyone.”

Lauren Helmick, a co-producer and executive board member, is extremely proud of the entire cast and the energy they put forward in the recent weeks.

“I am so thrilled,” Helmick said. “The vibes have been so high this year with the cast.”

Preparation for the show can be hectic, Helmick said. But even though the executive team ran into small and large issues with production, she couldn’t be more excited about how everything turned out.

“It is so rewarding knowing all of our hard work gets to be seen in front of so many family and friends,” Helmick said. “I couldn’t thank board and the rest of exec more for all of their hard work.”