Arts & Events

Electric Feel: RDG’s Latest Showcase Extravaganza 

Photo Credit: Abi Grebel

By Grace Farrell

  On the evening of Nov. 17, 2023, approximately 800 people poured into the Silas High School auditorium to witness Puget Sound students showcase their talent in 15 different dances. Members of the University’s Repertory Dance Group (RDG) remained backstage as the lights dimmed and enthusiastic audience members found their seats, eagerly anticipating the premier of this year’s fall showcase. 

  Each of the 140 club members had been rehearsing tirelessly all semester and then more intensively over text week to arrange such an elaborate performance, which “pulled from all different areas,” in terms of dance style and experience level, according to club President Carly Ching. 

  The performance commenced shortly after 7:30PM when a series of vibrant performers finally took to the stage. One such member was first-year Leah Thomison, who choreographed a beginning jazz piece to “Something I Don’t Know” by Selena Gomez. In doing so, she shared an upbeat and nostalgic piece with the community via the RDG showcase.  

 Thomison joined RDG after participating in a similar high school program, and while she recounts the initial experience of choreographing to be “incredibly nerve-wracking” because of her lack of seniority, she says that it was also rewarding to see the piece come together with so many enthusiastic dancers and friendly faces composing it. “I’m so honored to be a part of this club,” Thomison remarks. 

  Other upbeat numbers included a snazzy tap number titled “The Suits Are Picking Up the Bill” — where dancers sported suspenders and slacks as they shimmied across the stage — and “Bad Bunny Babys,” an intermediate hip-hop piece infused with a Latin-style thanks to Bad Bunny’s music. 

  RDG’s performance also included dance styles such as lyrical and modern. First-year Clara Jane Ulvenes is one RDG member who’s particularly skilled in these areas; she was featured in the showcase’s advanced contemporary piece, “Erase Me.”

  Ulvenes began dancing as a young child and transitioned from ballet to contemporary dance following restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Because Puget Sound doesn’t offer a degree in dance, she joined RDG as an alternative means of continuing her passion for dance and meeting other students with similar interests. 

  While Ulvenes recognizes that starting RDG during her first semester of college introduced an extra commitment to juggle alongside her regular coursework, she characterizes the overall experience of participating to be quite rewarding, and encourages anyone interested in dance to consider joining RDG — regardless of their previous dance experience. 

  “I think a lot of people are scared if they aren’t dancers, but there’s a lot of total beginners,” she says. “It’s something that anyone can try out.” 

  President Ching shares a similar sentiment about the program. After withdrawing from her childhood passion for dance because of its toxic environment, Ching says her experience with RDG has been nothing short of  “phenomenal.” She even notes that RDG is one of the things that has kept her enrolled at Puget Sound, due to its inclusivity and opportunities for community connection in these showcase events.

  Following the Friday night performance, over 450 people then attended a second night of the showcase on Saturday, Nov. 18. The audience included proud parents as well as fellow University of Puget Sound students eager to demonstrate their support for dancers. The show was an exhilarating experience for all — participants and onlookers alike — and campus is already looking forward to the arrival of similar RDG events in future semesters.