Since the start of the semester, four of Bowdoin’s dance groups—Anokha, Arabesque, Broken and VAGUE—have been extremely busy. From holding auditions for new members to preparing for upcoming performances, these groups have quickly gotten into the swing of things. The groups will perform this weekend as one of the many events scheduled for Family Weekend. 

Juniors Dhivya Singaram and Lizzi Takyi lead Anokha, a group that explores some of the many different styles of dance from India. In the past, they have performed both Bollywood and South Indian styles. This semester, the group has more than doubled in size, growing from six members to 14.

The larger group has brought new challenges, such as obtaining more costumes and integrating new members into the close-knit group.

“When new people joined, I think there was initially a weird dynamic between the two groups. They weren’t mixing as nicely as I wanted, and I want everyone to feel like a family,” Singaram said. “Somewhere in the last few weeks, some of the new girls came to our Anokha cultural dinners, and we really got to know each other through that. I feel like the two groups have integrated now, which is so nice.”

Despite the difficulties of this growth, Singaram and Takyi would like to see more students join Anokha.

“Our goal is also to recruit first years,” Singaram said. “We really want to create a strong foundation so that when we leave, there will be someone who’s willing to step up and take the leadership position.”

This Saturday, the group will be performing a Dandiya Raas dance, a style that comes from Gujarat, India. The dance includes foot-long sticks called dandiyas that are hit together rhythmically, both alone and with a partner. 

“I’m looking forward to people appreciating the cultural aspect of Anokha,” Takyi said. “One of the things that I’m actually very proud of is that the group itself is so diverse. We choose to appreciate this other culture that none of us really have in common. I truly look forward to seeing the parents appreciating it as well.”

Bowdoin’s ballet group, Arabesque, is led by Megan Maher ’16 and Emma Peters ’16. This semester, the group has 10 members who will perform this Saturday for Family Weekend and 11 who will perform in a December production of “The Nutcracker.” 

For Maher, because there are a few members who are studying abroad this semester, this is the smallest group she has experienced since she joined in her first year at Bowdoin.

This weekend, Arabesque will be dancing to Avicii’s “For a Better Day.” 

“It’s a little sentimental for all of us seniors because it’s our last year [performing for the] Parents Weekend show, but we’re super excited to be with the new group,” said Maher.

The breakdancing group, Broken, is led by Simon Pritchard ’16 and Sovannarath Pong ’17. Eight of the group’s 10 members will be participating in this weekend’s show. 

Like many of the campus dance groups, Broken has experienced significant growth of membership this year. Last fall, only four people performed in the Family Weekend show.

Pritchard and Pong both feel that Broken is usually faced with one dominant problem: people assuming they need prior experience to join the club. In fact, most members, including Pritchard and Pong, had no experience with breakdancing before coming to Bowdoin.“I think it’s important to emphasize the fact that anybody can breakdance, and it’s not as hard as it looks. It’s actually very simple to achieve a pretty solid skill base,” Pritchard said. “Anybody can do it and shouldn’t be afraid of doing it. It’s a great way of expressing yourself in a less structured manner.”

This year, Broken has moved away from a performance rooted in solo work and improvisation and has begun using more group choreography.

“If you can do anything synchronized, it looks a lot cooler than just one person doing it,” Pritchard explained.  “We’re now reaching skill levels where we can do some of the things we used to do solo together as a group at the same time. We’re really capitalizing on that.”
Broken’s performance this weekend is Halloween-themed and will feature some classic Halloween songs and zombie dance moves.

“Hopefully, we won’t scare too many small children,” Pritchard said.

VAGUE is led by Maddie Rutan ’16 and Olivia Stone ’16. According to Rutan and Stone, the group’s style is a mix of jazz and contemporary dance. This semester, VAGUE has 10 members, although this number will grow once other members return from studying abroad. 

Four of VAGUE’s senior members graduated last year, so the group added four first years and one junior after holding auditions. 

“I think our goals are to unify as a group with the new members, especially because this semester we are in kind of a unique position in that half of our members right now are new,” said Stone. 

In order to achieve that goal, the group goes to dinner together after every practice in order to ensure that the team can bond outside of the practice setting.

Since the beginning of school, VAGUE has been working on its performance for Family Weekend, which will be a routine to Beyoncé’s “Run the World” and “Flawless.”