World-renowned dance troupe Dance Heginbotham wowed the packed Spurrier Dance Studio Friday evening with an hour-long performance, including the premiere of their new piece “Old-Fashioned.”
The event was a part of the the Dance and Movement program’s seventh annual InspireDANCE Festival. The New York based Dance Heginbotham was the highest-profile group to perform at InspireDANCE, according to Director of the Dance and Movement Program and InspireDANCE organizer Missy Pfohl-Smith.
Dance Heginbotham’s performance in part was a celebration of its own fifth anniversary.
“We hope that we are able to share with this audience diverse repertory that John has been able to create over these five years,” Dance Heginbotham’s Managing Director Adrienne Bryant said ahead of the performance, referring to her dance group. “It’s representative of the breadth of work we’ve done over these five years.”
Smith chose Dance Heginbotham for InspireDance through a selective process. She explained that her main goal was to create a wide variety and diversity of performances from year to year.
In addition to the annual feature performances, dance workshops and classes are held throughout the six days of the festival. Workshop topics are decided by a student panel that determines what dance styles would provide a unique and enjoyable flavor to the university community and beyond.
Saturday’s workshop featured dancers from the local swing dance studio Groove Juice.
Those who stayed were treated to the live band—the Rock City Jitterbugs—that played music for people to dance to, the first time anything of the sort had been done at InspireDANCE.
“I definitely think that it was pretty enlightening,” Ben Parkinson ‘16 said after the workshop. “I usually dance on my own. It would make dancing a bit more fun if I had some more moves from some more styles.”
Parkinson had only attended a few dance shows as an undergraduate student. He attended the workshop to learn what swing dancing was and also to get involved in the dance community in Rochester.
Also in attendance at the workshop was the Swing Dance Club, which put on a performance for workshop attendees.
“We were trying to demonstrate how much fun swing dancing can be,” senior and Swing Dance member Joseph Linden said.
“[UR dance professor] Anne [Harris Wilcox] reached out to us in an email and said ‘we would love to have you perform,’” sophomore and Swing Dance vice president Tara Vrooman said. “It was a great way to spread the word about swing dance to everyone.”
One addition to the festival that is now in its fifth year is InspireJAM. Started by student Smon Cheewapansri, the event aims to gather hip-hop dancers from as far as Ithaca and Toronto for some friendly competition.
“It really brings the culture of hip-hop together,” Smith said. “It’s sort of friendly and playful, but it also has a competitive nature to it.”
Smith explained that every year judges and a professional DJ and MC are brought in for the event.
The judges—professional hip-hop dancers themselves—perform and teach a workshop to attendees.
Smith added that she is always looking to the future.
“There is a pretty wide dance community in Rochester in general,” Smith said. “This year, for the first time, we took our guest performer to a senior citizen’s center to do service work.”
Smith is hopeful that this service aspect will continue in future years, as well as that the level of participation by students will increase. Smith acknowledged the possibility that, given enough time, InspireDANCE could become a major regional event.
“It opens people’s eyes to what dance can be, to what dance as a field is,” Smith said. “There are countless ways dance exists in the world. This is a celebration of bringing people together, a celebration of diversity. We need that in the world.”