Stand Up and Dance: Yale's Dance Groups Unite for Charity

Six Yale dance companies will join forces to present a benefit concert on Saturday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. in Woolsey Hall, corner of College and Grove streets. Tickets are $6 for students; $12 for non-students. All proceeds will go to four local charitable organizations: the New Haven Boys and Girls Club, New Haven Homeless Resource Center, AIDS Interfaith Network, and City Spirit Artists.

“We want to give something back to the community,” says Marc Jacobson, concert organizer and dance enthusiast. A non-dancing history major from Dallas, Texas, he is an active member of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project and a volunteer for the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen. He became interested in dance through his sister, Loren, who danced during her years at Yale, and decided to combine performance with community service in creating the Nov. 1 concert.

Stand Up and Dance will feature performances by SUPADUPA fLY – SDf, Yaledancers, A Different Drum, TAPS, Danceworks and Rhythmic Blue plus one dance done by the entire ensemble. Ranging in size from five to 30 performers, each group has a distinct identity.

SDf, established this fall, is the newest of the bunch. Its dance style is hip-hop, representing urban culture from New York and New Haven to Tokyo. Administrative director Fatimah J. Guienze, a mechanical engineering student and dancer from New York City, calls hip-hop “the base of urban American pop art,” and emphasizes its “raw vitality and versatility that speak to American youth.” For the concert, SDf will present a performance piece set to Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot’s song, “I Can’t Stand the Rain – Supadupa Fly.”

In contrast, Yaledancers is one of the oldest troupes on campus – dating back to the 1970s – and one of the largest, with 25 to 30 members. Its choreography is varied, but its style combines classical ballet with lyrical modern technique.

“We usually take dancers who have had years and years of serious training,” says Bridget Alsdorf, a history of art major from Seattle. “We’ve begun hiring outside choreographers and commissioning pieces,” she says. For the benefit concert, they will present three works: a balletic dance choreographed by Elizabeth Vacco and set to Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto No. 1, a Bobby McFarrin song – “Of Violet and Fibers on Fierce Velvet with Passion” – choreographed with modern African influence, and an interpretation of Marc Cohn’s song, “Walking in Memphis.”

A Different Drum, established in 1996, incorporates ballet, tap, jazz, theatrical, Indian and Russian folk, modern, improvisation, and hip hop. According to founding member Remy Shaber, Russian and East European languages major from New York City, “We felt there weren’t enough dance groups to satisfy the interest on campus, and the existing groups didn’t cover all styles of dance. We decided to branch out.”

Dancers from the 21-member group will perform the song mixed by Bally Sago, “Choli ke piche,” roughly translated to mean, “what’s under your skirt?”– fusing hip-hop and Indian motifs; a modern narrative interpretation of Paul Simon’s “I Know What I Know,” and a new work with a Latin beat.

TAPS, founded in 1995, has about 20 tappers, male and female. Their repertoire includes jump-ropes, elements of Scottish folkdance, hip hop, jazz, and unaccompanied dance in which the rhythmic footwork provides the music. Danceworks, a 12-year-old troup, presents energetic works in a variety of styles. Rhythmic Blue specializes in R&B, hip-hop and jazz.

Beneficiaries of the fundraiser:

* The New Haven Boys and Girls Club enrolls 275-300 children, aged 5-13, in after-school programs and runs an evening program for teenagers, chiefly in the Hill neighborhood.

* The New Haven Homeless Resource Center is the only comprehensive day center for New Haven’s homeless community, providing employment services, adult education, housing and health referrals, shelter vouchers, and daytime shelter at 850 Grand Avenue.

* AIDS Interfaith Network, Inc. ministers to the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of people living with AIDS, offering compassionate and nonjudgemental assistance and providing AIDS prevention education.

* City Spirit Artists, Inc., is an arts and social service agency that provides access to the arts to people who might not otherwise have that opportunity: at-risk young people, the elderly, the incarcerated, physically or mentally disabled, and other special populations.

For further information, contact Marc Jacobson at 436-1190.

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