Happy Friday, everyone!
This week on Looking Forward, I had the opportunity to speak with Samantha Kasselman and Carly Abrahams, Co-Presidents of Relevé Dance Co here at UMich. They told me about how their organization has adjusted to COVID, the future of their organization, and their upcoming events. Let’s dive into it!
Relevé Dance Co is a student-run dance company that focuses on lyrical and jazz styles. In a typical year, they practice twice a week, developing their technique, strengthening their skills, and learning choreography for their April showcase. Their members are mostly students who have danced for some time before coming to college but are usually not majoring in dance (though many students do continue to take classes through the dance program here). They highlight student choreography by their own members and pride themselves on having a tight-knit group.
It’s no surprise that many of their operations have had to shift this year. First semester Relevé moved to be completely virtual, and Samantha and Carly had to figure out how they could continue to make the organization a mental health break and provide stress relief for their members when they can’t get the change of scenery they usually do. Additionally, they had to be much more flexible than usual with some of their choreography, understanding that not all members had the physical space to move how they normally would. Though they’ve been able to move some of their rehearsals to be in-person this semester, following COVID guidelines put in place by the University and Washtenaw County, there are still restrictions that make it different from a “normal” rehearsal. Physical touch, for instance, is something that they realized was taken for granted in previous choreography and rehearsals.
Samantha and Carly have still found some silver linings, though.
Samantha explained that “…in a normal year, when we’re always dancing in person and always together, it’s almost like we conform to like one style or some people’s choreography and different things but now that we can all kind of focus on like the creative process in our own spaces that we live, work and, like, that type of environment, I think it’s brought like a more diverse set of skills and backgrounds and choreography to our company. I think that will really be showcased in the virtual showcase, whether it be through the recorded videos that we learned someone else’s choreography or through videos of someone doing a solo in their house in the spaces that they live, work and breathe. I think that’s a really cool aspect of all this.”
I think that is such a beautiful thing about this time. Although it is not ideal that we’re all stuck in our own habitats and can’t share experiences in the ways we want to, I think being forced to interact with our environments more might bring out new levels of diversity and creativity in some of our projects. I’m excited to see how Relevé incorporates these new styles into their Spring showcase.
If you’re interested in getting involved in Relevé, you can check out their Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook pages. They’ll post more information about their upcoming projects there, including the showcase. Auditions for the group happen every Fall and most Winters, so if you’re interested in joining check back on their social media around those times!
That’s all from me this week! Come back next Friday for another spotlight on a creative student organization and how they are working through this crazy year.