Tufts University Dance Group Sarabande dance set wwill give their main performance of the semester, “Sarabande presents: Saratonin”, April 13-15. The show will feature 14 dances, original choreography and impressive skills.
Sarabande, named after a three-beat Spanish dance, is made up of accomplished dancers who choreograph and perform their own contemporary American dances.. Their contemporary dance style in general includes elements of ballet, jazz and modern dance. Any dancer in Sarabande can choreograph a piece for the whole company, bringing their own styles and personalities to the table. All the numbers performed by Sarabande are original creations of its dancers. Sarabande performs regularly for other dance events at Tufts, including “Relay for Life” and “Dance Marathon,” but has a special major performance each semester.
Due to all the preparation and organization required for the operation of Sarabande, the ensemble also has a student executive office. On the board is co-producer Cecily Lo, a senior who has been with Sarabande since her first year. Lo has been dancing since the age of 12. She trained in modern ballet and jazz since high school and has danced for the prestigious Joy of Motion’s Youth Dance Ensemble, the Summer Jazz & Contemporary Intensive at the Joffrey Ballet School and the International Summer Dance at Point Park University. Despite his years of experience in formal pre-vocational training, Lo enjoys the dance experience for all students.
” A strong point [of Sarabande] is our diversity of talents. We are primarily a contemporary dance group, but with different choreographic and technical talents, ”Lo said. “It allows us to learn from each other, and I have diversified my dance skills through Sarabande.
A unique feature of Sarabande is the ability for students to prepare an original choreography and then teach it to others. Lo learned to love choreography while dancing at Tufts and choreographed a dance every semester she spent at Sarabande. Two of her dances will be featured in “Saratonin”: a moving and contemporary piece called “Karmic Jungle – What Dreams are Made of” as well as a contemporary jazz piece influenced by Japanese folklore called “Yurei”. The show will feature ten other contemporary pieces, as well as two entirely jazz pieces.
Preparing 14 dance numbers is a tall order for the dancers of Sarabande, as their performances usually only consist of nine or ten.
“Even though more people than we have slots to choreograph, we wanted them to have that chance,” Lo explained. “We have one allotted time per week in the Jackson Hall studio, so now we have to find different areas to dance in. We have to be creative.
In addition to the technical complications, performing all the choreography in such a short time is a challenge. All 19 dancers have practiced for many hours over the past week, and in the past three days they have had over 20 hours of rehearsal.
“With so many pieces, it’s taxing,” Lo said. “And we’re all sore and tired. But the excitement of the upcoming show is what gets us through this. “
In addition to the physical demands, much of the choreography of “Saratonin” pushes its dancers mentally and emotionally. Many dances have heavy themes and originate from the feelings or personal experiences of the choreographer, which means that it is up to the dancers to connect with the choreographer in a personal way to convey the dance as intended. However, the show also stays true to the pun of its name – a pun on the chemical serotonin that regulates happiness in the brain – with several happy, upbeat dances.
The name “Saratonin” has been on the band’s minds for some time, Lo explained. She said that in the face of so many challenges, Sarabande “wanted an upbeat and fun title and show theme.”
According to Lo, Sarabande has only grown in popularity and talent since its founding.
“Six or seven years ago we were kind of an unknown band, and maybe a hundred people would come to our performances,” Lo said. “Now we sell regularly and we are better known. Our caliber is higher.
An important factor in the success of this year is the leadership of the group, which includes seven seniors, while there are usually only three to five. With more experience in the company, the young dancers are better guided and encouraged.
However, seniors are not the only accomplished dancers in Sarabande. Most of the dancers are classically trained and the annual spot auditions are competitive. Many dancers also take dance lessons through the Drama and Dance Department for academic credit.
“The performing arts scene at Tufts, through the after-school groups and across the department, is really strong,” Lo said. “Right now he’s one of the strongest players we’ve had in terms of technique and choreography.”
This weekend’s performance will be the last time Lo and six other senior dancers will perform in Sarabande.
“For a lot of us, this will probably be the last time we perform on stage, which is really scary,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s a last hurray.”
Lo also expressed her gratitude for her stay in Sarabande where she was able to dance with other students and choreograph her own pieces. His contributions to “Saratonin”, in particular “Karmic Jungle – What Dreams are Made of” are not just dances or even works of art for Lo. They are, in his own words, “vehicles for my personal expression.”
“Sarabande Presents: Saratonin” will take place at the Cohen Auditorium. Tickets are free and available at the Mayer Campus Center information booth.