DS celebrates anniversary

This year, Dancers’ Symposium (DS), a student-run organization that puts on a two-act dance show each semester, celebrated their 25th year at Carnegie Mellon. To honor the occasion, DS hosted an event at the Porch Friday night and invited back alumni to celebrate with current students.

Organizers realized the anniversary was on the horizon last summer when an alumnus contacted veteran DS director Joel Goodloe, a senior vocal performance major. Directors have pointed at alumni involvement as an area where they would like the organization to expand.

Michelle Cho, sophomore business major and DS director, added that they have recently started an alumni database to work toward this goal and celebrate the anniversary. They’ve also seen an increase in alumni interaction with social media sites. Last week when the dancers put on a flash mob, the video received a lot of alumni attention on Facebook, creating more interaction and conversation. Alumni still continue to come back to enjoy the show every semester. Cho believes this is because DS positively impacted so many alumni’s college experiences that they’re excited to maintain involvement.

Another director, David Buzzell, a sophomore double major in electrical and computer engineering and music and technology, added that it was DS alumni who convinced him to attend Carnegie Mellon in the first place. Positive alumni involvement is an irreplaceable asset for any organization, institution, or school, and DS sees this value.

The flash mob last week was part of another goal for Dancers’ Symposium—increasing community interaction. Buzzell said that he wants to continue to expand the organization in new ways. This year they had 180 students audition, great progress for internal expansion. But externally they were looking to interact with campus in more ways than just performing once per semester. That’s why they added their flash mob and held the celebration during Carnival. Dancers would like also to hold camps and classes in the area so that they can contribute what they’ve learned to the community.

After speaking to dancers and directors alike, it becomes clear that Dancers’ Symposium is special to many members of our campus community. For dancers like sophomore materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering double major Sabrina Liu, it’s an opportunity to continue to dance once coming to Carnegie Mellon, but it’s also an opportunity for growth. After telling me “DS made me more sassy,” with a gesture that was sassy indeed, Liu talked about how her participation allowed her to meet people who helped her come out of her shell.
Goodloe also emphasized that the social aspect of DS makes it special. His involvement stretches back to his first year at Carnegie Mellon, when he just auditioned and performed as a dancer. After that, he stayed on as a director and choreographer for three more years. He said that it gave him a family outside of his major.

Ryan Sickles, sophomore information systems major, who only participated in DS for one semester, talked about the program’s value from a different perspective. He never danced prior to auditioning, but he said that it gave him such new respect for the dancers who do it every semester. They put in a significant amount of time before going to perform, which is difficult and deserves appreciation.

Cho, who had also never danced prior to joining DS, finds that one of the most special aspects of the organization is how accepting it is of everyone. “No matter where you come from, what background you may or may not have,” they accept dancers of any skill level or genre, because what brings them all together is that everyone has passion for what they’re doing.

Buzzell added that passion is really what keeps the organization moving forward. And at the party, it was clear that everyone there loved what they were doing. After everyone had finished enjoying the buffet, the crowd moved out onto the dance floor. Each dancer had their own style; some were in the center while some stuck toward the edge. A few were comfortable with aggressive hip-hop, and others just felt the beat. But everyone there seemed really happy to be dancing and to be with their friends. That’s what made the night special.