By Ally Fedorka
The Villanova Dance Ensemble and Company began preparing for the Fall showcase at the beginning of the semester and finally got to show off all its hard work at its showcases on Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2 in the Saint Mary’s auditorium.
The show was professional and well-composed. It displayed the dancers’ wide array of talents, including different styles of dance, from ballet and contemporary to tap and hip-hop.
The show opened with a rendition of “The Lion King’s” “Circle of Life”—a more hip-hop, District-78 remix—by the entire Dance Company, complete with jungle cat-themed costumes. This piece proved to be a very exciting way to begin the show, making the audience eager to see more.
One of the best aspects of the show was that it displayed just how versatile the ensemble really is.
One hip-hop piece was performed to Passion Pit’s “Sleepyhead.” Its choreography is by senior Company member Michael Calzolaio. While his premier genre is tap, his first hip-hop piece was spectacular. It was creative, entertaining and not sleepy at all, even though the 14 dancers were all wearing their pajamas.
Another impressive hip-hop dance was set to “Work Hard, Play Hard,” choreographed by senior Company member Brittany Pietrunti. This dance featured 11 Ensemble and Company members and was unique, fun and flirty.
There were many more contemporary dances performed as well. The dance to Dave Matthews Band’s “Dreamgirl,” choreographed by one of the Company’s senior members, Tiffany Daggett, was appropriately very dreamy and illusory. It told a story and kept the audience interested from start to finish. Sophomore and first-time choreographer Christa Chirico impressively arranged a beautiful, lyrical dance to rising artist Ed Sheeran’s “Little Bird.”
Another crowd favorite was a dance to the beautiful, a capella “Pull of the Moon” by Jodie Manross, which was choreographed by senior Ensemble co-president Melissa Dazo. Because the song was a capella, all of the focus was on the intricate and graceful movements of the 11 dancers.
A dance in a genre of its own was choreographed by junior Nicole Maldari to a fun “I Got Rhythm” remix by Lena Horne and Q-Tip. This piece cleverly combined different stylistic elements and genres such as jazz and hip-hop.
Junior Nicole Puccio presented the audience with a similar piece to Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been.” The juxtaposition of jazz and hip-hop in these two dances was unexpected but successful.
The showcase featured a tap dance by Calzolaio and a ballet piece choreographed by senior Company member Lindsey Kemmerich. This ballet dance, set to a slowed-down remix of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child Of Mine,” was both elegant and upbeat.
The talented Dance Ensemble director Melissa Vella-Salcedo choreographed two dances. One was a powerful, contemporary piece to Imagine Dragon’s “It’s Time,” and the other was the finale, a jazzy piece performed by the entire Dance Company in top hats to Money Mark’s “This Is How I Roll.”
While the dances alone would have been enough to keep the audience entertained, the showcases also featured guest performances by some of the University’s finest a capella groups: the Spires, the Haveners and Vocal Minority, along with the Gospel Choir.
After watching the showcase, it was evident that every dancer was proud of themselves and of one another, and this shined through in each performance.
Melissa Vella-Salcedo said it best in her speech after the showcase: “They don’t have to dance; they want to dance.” She said that even though she “beats the poo” out of them at each and every practice, they are all extremely focused and committed.
Sophomore Company member Marissa Jensen said the most rewarding part of her experience has been, “Seeing all of our hard work pay off. And being able to share my passion for dance will all of the other Ensemble members and, of course, the audience.”