By Skylar Zachian || Contributing Writer
When I arrived at Franklin and Marshall just over a month ago, my mind was swirling with excitement as I envisioned all of the classes and extracurriculars in which I would immerse myself. As a student whose interests lie within the arts and humanities, I counted down the days until I could deeply analyze texts in the classroom, write for The College Reporter, and scope out performing arts opportunities. While I had many tasks on my to-do list, toward the top of my list was joining the F&M Dance Team.
Having been on my previous school’s dance team for six years, I was eager to join a group of students in college who shared my passion for dance. Upon walking into auditions, I was met by captains Audrey Sullivan ‘23 and Kaitlyn Stauffer ‘24, whose love of dance was immediately apparent. Having officially been a Dance Team member for the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to form a close bond with the team and have especially enjoyed getting to know the captains. I recently had the opportunity to ask Audrey and Katilyn about their dance experience, F&M’s team, and what they are most looking forward to this year in regard to the team.
When I asked Audrey about her background in dance, she replied “I’ve been dancing for 11 years now. I started dancing at my local studio (MDA studios) in Medfield, MA. I‘ve taken classes in a lot of different styles including ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, pointe, and acro.” She also pointed out that she has been on the Dance Team for all 3 years of her F&M career and has been with the F&M Dance Company (a group that performs at Fall and Spring Dance Concerts and the Spring Showcase) for two years now.
Audrey is especially looking forward to the Dance Team making a full return to in-person practices and performances. When I asked her about how the team functioned at the height of Covid, Audrey explained that “last year was pretty tough for the dance team. I wasn’t able to be on campus in the fall so I was only able to attend virtual practices but the team did have in person practice once a week. It was pretty difficult to create dances and work on skills in the limited spaces of our rooms and navigating the Zoom environment. It was still great to see the team each week and connect but I’m really glad we are no longer doing virtual practices. This semester has already been so much fun with the dance team!” She is particularly excited to perform alongside the team’s “many new amazing members”. In terms of what to expect this year, Audrey confirmed that the team will “be performing at homecoming as well as several other sporting events.”
Kaitlyn explained that she has been dancing for 17 years and specifically noted, “ I danced with a competition team for 11 years, where I was trained in many different genres. A few of these genres include ballet/pointe, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, modern, and musical theater. I’ve also attended many conventions like PowerPak, Excel in Motion, Jump, Wild, etcetera.”
In addition to her experience spending over 20 hours a week at her dance studio as a student and an assistant teacher, she ran a nonprofit at the studio by the name of “Barre None: Dance for All”, which “allowed children with developmental and/or physical disabilities to take a dance class for free and perform at our year-end recital.”
Like Audrey, Kaitlyn is not only a member of the F&M Dance Team – she also dances with the F&M Dance Company. Kaitlyn highlighted that she “teach[es] at a local studio and perform[s] for a Lancaster-based modern dance company.” When I asked her what she loves most about the F&M Dance Team, Kaitlyn confirmed a special quality of the team that I immediately recognized upon joining: “The F&M Dance Team is such a welcoming group of people. We believe that dance is for everyone, and we love to ensure that everyone can grow as a dancer while having as much fun as possible. I love how hard-working and passionate our team is. I feel like the team creates a really supportive and positive environment.”
Kaitlyn, like Audrey, enthusiastically anticipates our performance at the True Blue Weekend homecoming game and also noted that the team will be performing at not only home football games but basketball games as well.
F&M’s Dance Team has a can’t-miss lineup of performances this semester and can’t wait for you all to come out and support!
Skylar Zachian is a Contributing Writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.