If dancing were a varsity sport, Laura Keller ’15 would be the captain. As a member of Vague (jazz) and Obvious (hip-hop) and the lead choreographer of Arabesque (ballet), Keller’s life on campus revolves around dance.

“It’s a large commitment. I’m spending like 10 or 11 hours [a week] in the studio at rehearsal and then I have to spend time outside of that to choreograph as well,” said Keller. “My friends always know that I have to run off to dance in the evening.”

She said that as big a commitment as dance is for her, it’s also an escape from the rest of her day. 
“I can do homework in the afternoon and then take a break doing something that I love and then go back to doing homework,” she said. 

Although she is a classically trained ballet dancer, Keller has been trying different types of dance her whole life. 

“I’ve been dancing since I was three, just like every other girl, except I actually stuck with it,” said Keller. 

“I started out doing jazz and then had to switch to ballet because I needed the ballet technique to advance in jazz and then just fell in love with ballet,” she added.

In high school, she picked up ballroom dancing when ballet became too much of a commitment.
However, she added, “ballet has always been my one true love.”

At Bowdoin, Keller joined Arabesque at the beginning of her first year and Vague  during the spring. She was also involved in the Salsa club during her first two years. Keller was was worried about the amount of time she was spending on dance, but she could not resist joining Obvious.   

“The hip-hop group just looked like so much fun so I decided to audition and join that one as well,” said Keller. 

Keller is not the only student involved in all three groups. 

“There is a lot of overlap, especially this year,” said Keller. “I would say two-thirds of people in all of the groups are in at least two of the different dance groups. There are a five of us that are in all three.”

Keller added that there is a growing partnership between the  dance groups. 

“We’re doing a collaborative piece between those three groups. We’re doing a dance to ‘Same Love’ so it’s a little bit more of a political piece but it’s been a lot of fun,” said Keller. 

“The main challenge is trying to come up with choreography that seams together all of the styles, but also is something that everyone can do,” said Keller. “So, for example, the people in the hip-hop group who don’t have any ballet training, how can we add the ballet without having it be too technically difficult?”

The piece will be performed on April 30 at the student groups performance and at the Vague show at the beginning of May.

Danae Hirsch ’14, who was the leader of Vague last semester, came up with the idea for the project. Keller mentioned that the leaders of various dance groups all liked the song and were interested in working on the piece.

“We didn’t want it to be associated with any one dance group in particular, but thought it would be a really cool thing to show the union of all of the dance groups,” Keller said. 

Keller said that due to the project the groups are more connected now than ever.

“We would never have been able to pull off this collaborative piece before hand, because there were people who did each different style and that was all that they did. It is really nice to see that change happening now, from the dance community being more segmented to being more cohesive.”

She also noted the positive atmopshere the dance groups provide. 

“[The dance community is] definitely a smaller group of people, but we are all very tight-knit. It’s like having my own family. I love everyone that I dance with,” said Keller.

Not only is it a small community, but it does not always get as much publicity as other groups on campus, likely because of the complexities of performing.

“For dance we need a special kind of stage, and it needs to be big enough, it takes a long time for us to prepare just one dance because it’s all choreographed by us and then we need to teach it and clean it,” said Keller. 

“It’s not as popular a thing for people to see but it is definitely on the rise,” she said.