With Commencement comes the time to celebrate the elders who have greatly contributed to the dance community on campus. Whether they are captains, presidents, artistic directors or development directors, these seniors have led their respective dance groups through the trials and tribulations presented by a virtual year. The viewer interviewed some of these elders and heard them reflect on their experiences as members and leaders of the performing arts community.
Sophie Visscher, BC ’21, took a unique journey through the performing arts of Columbia. Originally stumbled upon Orchesis at the fall club fair in freshman, Visscher auditioned, joined, and then danced in many rooms. That spring, she joined the Orchesis Board as a costume designer and later became the producer of two shows: “Bears. Beets. Battlestar GalactOrchesis ”and“ Life in ColOrchesis ”.
In her first year, Visscher was an assistant choreographer for the Varsity Show, which catapulted her into a new world of musical theater. Since then she has been heavily involved in the Columbia Theater, choreographing for the Varsity Show and the Columbia Musical Theater Society’s production of “Pippin”. Visscher says that these positions “launched [her] in an incredible community where [she] ended up meeting most of the [her] best friends.”
After graduation, Visscher plans to continue spreading his love for dance; she will work for Dances For A Variable Population, a non-profit dance organization that aims to engage seniors in dance.
Anisah Nsugbe, CC ’21, joined Raw Elementz in the fall of her freshman year. In addition to being a double major in political science and psychology, Nsugbe devoted much of her time to Raw Elementz, becoming co-artistic director in her first year and chairperson in her final year.
“[I was] basically gave a family my first day of freshman, ”Nsugbe said. “And that was super special for me. And that they have stayed with my family for the past four years. I am really sad to be leaving.
As co-artistic director for the 2019-2020 school year, Nsugbe, alongside her best friend Zena Ezz Eidin, CC ’21, was in charge of what Raw Elementz produced including choreography, costumes, lighting and performance. She then took on the role of President in her final year and worked to fit a normal semester into the Virtual Realm. In addition to producing choreography videos, she prioritized the team’s sense of community, ensuring that new members feel welcome in the already tight-knit dance group when they cannot practice in nobody.
Looking back on her last four years on the team, Nsugbe ranks Raw Elementz’s performance at Night Market in fall 2019, the first performance she and Eidin hosted as co-artistic directors, as her favorite memory. As for the future, Nsugbe hopes to become a psychologist; she knows she will continue the lessons she learned as a dancer and leader of Raw Elementz.
“Stay in your lane because that’s where you shine the most,” Nsugbe said. “The scariest times are when you are completely yourself, are genuine and vulnerable, and put yourself in positions that you know from your experience to belong to. These might be the scariest spaces, because it feels the most real and it’s the most important to you, but these are the spaces where you will find the most benefits. “
Gauri Talwar, BC ’21, majoring in Economics and Mathematics, has been an indispensable member of Columbia Bhangra since she joined her first fall year. She became the team leader as president of public relations in her second year, reaching the position of captain for her junior and senior years. As captain, she took charge of the team from a dance and community perspective. When she was in person last year, she choreographed for the team, making sure the dances looked clean and prepared for the performances. When Columbia went virtual, she led the effort to keep Bhangra active. These efforts have paid off as Bhangra successfully completed their virtual competition and turned their annual “Bhangra in the Heights” into virtual with the new title “Bhangra E-Heights”.
As a two-year leader, Talwar, inspired by the community she gained during her four years at Columbia Bhangra, has left sound advice for current undergraduates and future leaders.
“Don’t get too caught up in the technical aspects of dancing or running an organization,” said Talwar. “The well-being of the community comes first and the friendships you create come first. It’s like the main lesson I learned.
Julia Papas, BC ’21, joined the Columbia Dance Team when she transferred to Barnard in her sophomore year and has remained a full member for the past three years. She became captain in her first year, also retaining the post this year.
“If I wanted a legacy to be left to me, it would just be that I was a good leader and people would feel comfortable talking to me, or that they would feel comfortable having me. like confidant, or they could tell me anything. was happening, ”Papas said.
As captain, Papas served as a liaison between the coach and his teammates. Dancers on the team would often meet her first, whether they were having difficulty engaging or feeling uncomfortable with something that had happened, before contacting the coach. She was also meeting dancers outside of scheduled rehearsal time to review the choreography and prepare for upcoming rehearsals or performances, as well as to help organize the trip to Baker Field during football season.
Just two days after graduation, Papas will be putting into practice his major in Neuropsychology with a focus on Neuroscience as a Research Coordinator for Clinical Trials. But the dance and the lessons she learned from the dance team will continue to guide her.
“The dancing is super self-disciplined,” Papas said. “Coming into the workforce, I think you have a lot of self-discipline that I don’t see in a lot of other people in a lot of other things. I mean other sports, sure, but I think the dancing is really strong in there.
Tian Griffin, BC ’21, has been dancing since the age of three and was eager to get involved in the Columbia ballet community after her acceptance. She joined the Columbia University Ballet Ensemble in her first year, performing her first role as a hot chocolate dancer in the club’s production of “The Nutcracker,” rising through the ranks to become a coach and eventually artistic director. As artistic director, Griffin is in charge of putting on a complete classical ballet each semester.
Outside of CUBE, Griffin has danced with the Columbia Repertory Ballet, Columbia Ballet Collaborative and Barnard Dance Department Miller Theater and New York Live Arts Productions. Still, she explains how CUBE had the biggest impact on her, because without this club, “I would never have been able to play, unless I was just pursuing a professional career.”
She remembers the incredible joy she felt taking the stage for each performance of CUBE, in particular recounting the performance of a trio with two of her closest friends in “Don Quixote”.
“It was really fun to be on stage with them. It’s a really big energy, ”Griffin said.
After her previous high school dance experience, Karen Lin, CC ’21, joined CU Generation in her first spring semester. From the start, she already felt that the team had welcomed her into their family. Currently, Lin is the artistic director of CU Gen, choreographing the sets, formatting practices and producing the annual showcase.
After a fully virtual year as Artistic Director, Lin says he is very proud of her success by organizing a fully virtual showcase titled “GENESIS”, which has garnered a large audience and popularity. Despite the circumstances, Lin remained optimistic, stating that one of the benefits of the virtual storefront premiere is that “we now have a lot of videos and sets to cherish in video format.”
Although Lin has completed her last appearance in the CU Gen showcase, she plans to continue her creative work as a product designer for MongoDB, a database program. She attributes much of her creativity to her involvement with CU Gen navigating the various creative aspects of “freestyle, choreography, art direction and set creation”.
Asha Meagher, BC ’21, joined the Columbia Ballet Collaborative in her second year, quickly becoming a board member as Deputy Director of Development. Throughout her time at the club, Meagher progressed to become the Director of Development, dealing with alumni relations, mentoring choreographers, and fundraising for the organization. In this role, one of his main contributions to CBC has been his reformatting of the mentoring program.
In a typical year, mentors are assigned to individual mentors with choreographic experience.
“This year, because of the virtual format, we kind of took the opportunity to expand it, restructure it and make it a little more inclusive,” Meagher said, “it was more of a program. of studies, as opposed to a simple series of meetings.
Meagher explained that CBC transformed the role of dance in her life from something stressful to something that allowed her to escape stress, as it allowed her to connect with the dance community and form friendships. significant.
“Being able to have real friendships in a dance environment that is ultimately college and university centric has been a really good thing,” she said.
Unprecedented to follow, this senior group has made it possible for Columbia dance groups to continue performing this year despite its virtual format. “I’m so impressed with my fellow dancers and what we’ve been able to accomplish because I’ve really never seen anything like it before,” Griffin said.
Editor-in-Chief Emma Danon can be contacted at [email protected].