The society without a home: DU Dance

From rags to riches, DU Dance have had a rollercoaster of a year, emerging victorious at this year’s intervarsity competitions held in Galway in March despite having had nowhere to practice

After successfully hosting the dance intervarsity competition last year,  Dublin University Dance Society set out from Michaelmas to grow and build upon this success, both as a society generally and competitively at the annual intervarsity. However the year got off to an unexpected, rocky start for the society. With the renovation of Regent House and the Sports Centre’s fitness studio, the society was left without rooms or anywhere they could practice and had to go out of college to do so. Not only did this mean that many of weekly dance classes and events run by the society were cut back, but also that the intervarsity teams would have to pay out of their own pocket for the use of studios scattered about Dublin for a few limited rehearsal hours. For DU Dance, things looked bleak.

Even as a society without a home, DU Dance’s usual events and preparation for intervarsities had to go on. Workshops in dance styles including burlesque locking, dancehall, pole dancing, and even a Beyoncé workshop took place in the Lir Academy throughout the year and were open to all members of the society. In October, preparation for competitions began with auditions at the Lir Academy, with over 100 dancers turning up for a chance to join the team. The first event for these newly formed teams was the annual All Ireland DCU Dance Experiment hosted in the Helix theatre in early November. Kicking off the dance year, this non-competitive event comprise eight colleges  and was the first chance for Trinity’s DU Dance to show off its newly formed teams and their talent.

“Dance is something that can unite people of all backgrounds and abilities.”

Onwards, DU Dance participated in a winter showcase along with the Musical Theatre Society, DU Music, and the Trinity Belles in Powerscourt. Trinity’s Best Dance Crew in February  was the most successful event hosted by the society this year, winning  the event of the year award at the CSC’s annual society awards. The event involved DU Dance choreographer from various styles training members of nine different societies and clubs such as VDP, Players, and Hockey to compete in the the competition held in the Button Factory nightclub, with Cumman Gaelach taking first-place.

Rehearsals for the 2017 Intervarsity Competition began in January with each team forced to independently find studios in Dublin where they  could choreograph and train. With such limited space and high studio fees, the Irish Dancing team had to  rehearse in the sports hall of Trinity Hall on a concrete floor. The hip hop team split trainings between the Liffey Trust Studios and the mirrorless Room 50 on campus. Many weekly classes were reduced and eventually cancelled in the lead up to the competition set to take place in March due to this hectic situation.

Taking initiative to try  to alleviate the situation, Lauren Keogh, treasurer of the society, entered DU Dance into the Linklater’s “Pitch Your Ambition” competition to win £5000 for a home studio for the society in college.  Just days before the intervarsities in Galway, news came that  DU Dance had won the competition, giving elation,  relief and hope for the future of the society. Thanks to the work of Keogh, the committee and all of the dancers, friends and families that shared the competition on Facebook, DU Dance will soon have a  new home for the dancers in  Trinity.

“The dance society without a home succeeded against the odds.”

At the Intervarsities in March, four teams comprising 50 students went to Galway for the event hosted by NUIG and all four teams successfully placed. The event took place in the Black Box theatre in Galway and 12 colleges from across the country competed in five different categories – Irish, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, and a mixed piece. The dance society without a home succeeded against the odds, with jazz and contemporary teams winning their categories, Irish placing second, hip hop placing third, and Ronan O’Gorman and Claire Crowley from Trinity receiving individual performance awards. The success of hosting the event last year was matched and surpassed with the fantastic results in Galway and the growth of the dancers in the society as a community.

So after a bumpy few months, what lies in the future of DU Dance? After this whirlwind year for the society, the newly elected committee have a lot of goals for the dance society next year. At the AGM held in the 11th week of term, the theme of the many speeches and the new  chair’s ideas centered on bringing dance to both dancers and non-dancers in Trinity. From jazz to traditional Irish, from hip hop to contemporary, from ballroom to dancehall, dance in its many forms is something that can unite people of all backgrounds and abilities. With new facilities, a hopeful committee and a dedicated group of dancers, DU Dance hopes to reach many in Trinity through its enthusiasm for dance. Next year, expect a resurgence in weekly classes for all levels of dancers and non-dancers. Equally, you can expect to see DU Dance hosting more events in conjunction with other societies as well as an even stronger sense of community among the dancers in the society.  Furthermore, expect an intervarsity team that will be a force to reckon with at next year’s competition.