Orchesis productions stun with dances choreographed by students

A talented dancer can make her audience members lean forward in their seats and wish to twist as gracefully as the artist on the stage. For the entirety of the Orchesis shows on Friday Nov. 1 and Saturday Nov. 2, audience members were entranced by the intensity and passion of the dances performed by various groups at the Alice Austin Theatre.

A total of 14 dances were performed at each Orchesis show. Songs ranged from upbeat numbers like “We’re All in This Together” by Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgins, Lucas Grabeel and Ashley Tisdale, to contemplative numbers like “Breathe Me” by Sia.

All dances are student choreographed, as the club is entirely student-run. In an interview over email, junior choreographer and dancer Sydney Schmidt elaborated on her first experience with choreographing a dance. 

“One challenge I’ve run into in Orchesis as both a dancer and choreographer is finding out how to get everyone on the same page,” Schmidt said. “People can interpret movement differently. Some people count (for timing) while others rely on different cues.”

Schmidt has been involved in Orchesis since her first year at Geneseo.

“It’s an added challenge that the group of dancers changes with every semester,” Schmidt said. “[But] the biggest challenge [when choreographing] this semester was figuring out how to find counts for [“Organs” by Of Monsters and Men, which is] a very lyrical piece.”

Dancers in Orchesis range in skillset and experience. According to the official Orchesis website, dances are arranged by difficulty level and no tryouts are required to join the club. The website states that Orchesis is the largest student-run organization on campus.

“I enjoyed the performance as a whole because I love how Orchesis is open to all people at all levels of dance,” Schmidt said. “I’m always impressed with everyone’s confidence and creativity.”

Schmidt’s dance was just before the last dance of the show. This last dance was to the song “Push it to the Limit” by Corbin Bleu, featuring all Orchesis e-board members and allowing them to have fun with a final upbeat song as a gesture of gratitude towards each other, their fellow Orchesis members and the audience for helping to bring the event together.

Orchesis performances contrasted in themes and style, which is a pattern echoed in the differences between the serious tone of Shmidt’s “Organs” and the enthusiastic tone of the Orchesis e-board’s “Push it to the Limit.” 

Regardless of the mood, style and music of each dance, all performances were cohesive and impassioned. Practice and preparation were obvious in the timing and grace of each dancer’s moves.

Sophomore Orchesis historian and dancer Emma Flaherty commented in an email interview that she prefers tap dance over other styles of dance. Flaherty took part in a group tap dance to the song “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.

“Everyone was amazing and worked so hard,” Flaherty said. “It could get tricky to coordinate schedules and feel confident in the dances, but with the time we had we all worked to our best ability and performed great!”

Choreographer Schmidt commented that she does not have one single favorite style of dance.

“I definitely like doing a lot of different kinds [of dance] because I feel like doing one style over another based on my mood,” Schmidt said. “Since I’ve been doing Bhangra—which is very upbeat and energetic—for about a year, I wanted to change it up and do something slower, like contemporary this time around [for Orchesis].”

“It’s so inspiring to see dancers and choreographers make their visions come to life,” Flaherty said. For anyone interested in joining Orchesis, general meetings are held on Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the Brodie Dance Studio.