Saddleback students dance the nights away

(Courtesy of Nina Welch)

The Saddleback Dance Collective put on a performance choreographed by Christine Gaeta, Edwin Monroy and Cynthia Lopez this past weekend during an annual concert. (Courtesy of Nina Welch)

The Dance Collective performed their annual concert this past weekend at the McKinney Theater among a full house of family and friends. Over three nights, Saddleback students laid it all on the stage, showcasing the choreography of their fellow students.

The lights dimmed at 7:30 p.m. and so began the show. Throughout the evening the audience was taken through a range of genres from tap to jazz, modern, ballet, hip-hop and more. The 2-hour performance was compiled of 14 different routines. The Dance Collective concert provides a space for dancers and choreographers alike to showcase their talents.

One unique routine of the evening was titled “Fives and Twenty-Fives,” after the “One College, One Book” novel about war veterans, that Saddleback has read collectively this semester. The choreography class at Saddleback was asked to create a piece in response to the novel written by former Marine Michael Pitre.

The students were able to connect to the idea of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in their own personal ways. One dancer specifically, Nate Le, actually served in the navy for years before attending Saddleback, and was able to provide insight to the piece as well. The modern dance was performed to a voice narrative from the book that aimed to capture the pains and frustrations of PTSD.

“Personally, I think this piece is something that everyone can relate to in some way,” said performer and choreographer Andrea Braga. “Sadly we are all affected by the aftermath of war in one way or another. This piece was meant to show that despite the different experiences had by those who have served, there is always someone there to help and stand with you.”

Another crowd favorite was the routine entitled, “Encore,” a hip-hop routine choreographed by Christine Gaeta and Edwin Monroy, as well as assistant choreographer Cynthia Lopez. The dance featured a collection of songs and had the audience cheering on their dancers through the whole routine.

“Something about hip-hop, probably the energy, just makes you feel like you have to participate more,” said audience member Sam Lobo. “But overall, the show was sweet because it did cater to different groups of people and represented all different styles of dance.”

The auditions to participate in this particular show occurred in January of this year. Over the next couple months, the student choreographers worked with the selected dancers to put on the finished product in the spring. One performer of the evening had just one routine to perform in, but was exhilarated by the experience.

“This was actually my first performance as a dancer,” said Kinesiology major Christopher Muros. “I’ve never had any formal dance training, but this was really fun and I learned so much.”

The woman behind the event was the Dance Department Chair, Diedre Cavazzi, who was also the director of the show. She was found at the entrance of the event enthusiastically selling “Dance Grams,” those being little notes and chocolates.

“We sell these to send to the dancers backstage,” Cavazzi said. “The proceeds go to support things like the costumes and other concert expenses.”

Her love for the performers was reciprocated at the end of the show when she was given a large bouquet and group hug by the dancers.