December 10, 2021 | LIFE | By Olivia Hahnemann-Gilbert | Photo by Cameron Howell

When I think about my experience as a student at Colorado College, one of the first things that comes to mind is one of the campus’ most widely-attended events and most beloved traditions, Dance Workshop (DW).

Dance Workshop is a biannual dance production on campus which is fully run, choreographed, and performed by students. It is currently run by co-chairs Anabella Owens ’22, Kiara Butts ’23, and Callista Tran ’24.

After the audition process at the beginning of the semester, all dancers are placed into at least one dance; the options include a vast range of levels (many pieces requiring no prior dance experience) and types, including hip-hop, contemporary, jazz, and even swing dance. This culminates in a vibrant show at the end of the semester.

To call Dance Workshop legendary is an understatement. Given the large variety of dance levels and categories, many students choose to participate by choreographing, dancing, or both. On top of this, hundreds of students watch the show each semester.

Simply put, Dance Workshop is a beautiful explosion of energy and creativity.

This semester’s Dance Workshop performance, “Have Mercy,” was particularly special, as it was the first in-person show after COVID-19 sent students home and abruptly cut off the performance in March 2020.

After the past three semesters of the co-chairs creatively navigating the situation by providing safe online performances, they were finally given the green light this semester to bring DW back to the in-person stage.

Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the performance in Armstrong Hall’s Kathryn Mohrman Theatre absolutely slayed CC’s campus. With everyone – students, choreographers, co-chairs, and audience members alike – incredibly enthused to be back in-person, the shows were louder and livelier than ever.     

Callista Tran ‘24 vibrantly enters the stage, photo courtesy of Cameron Howell

Audience member Fiorella Murillo ’23 commented on her experience watching the DW performance last weekend.

“I loved it. I went on Friday and then loved it so much that I went on Saturday too,” Murillo said. “It was so good and the energy was just so amazing.”

Murillo was not the only one who decided to go two days in a row; in fact, tickets were in such high demand that the show on Saturday was completely sold out. 

In addition to being a fun way for students to support and cheer on their peers, the DW show also served as a way to bring the campus together in a way that had been missing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flor Vargas ’23, another audience member at both the Friday and Saturday night shows, spoke to this element of the performances.

“It was so good to see the CC community come together again,” Vargas said.

As a dancer in this semester’s DW production, I definitely felt a heart-warming and supportive sense of community at last weekend’s shows. Both the unwavering encouragement of the audience members as well as the newfound friendships formed with fellow dancers made me feel more connected to the CC community than I have since before the onset of the pandemic.

 Mariel Zech ’23, a fellow dancer, also commented on this sense of community at the shows.

“The energy and support we had for each other this past weekend was so strong,” Zech said.

Zech absolutely killed her performance in the fun and upbeat disco piece, “Stayin’ Alive,”choreographed by Olivia Fortner ’21. Zech went on to describe her overall experience participating in DW as a dancer.

“This was my first time doing dance workshop and dancing in general,” she said. “I was delightfully surprised by how much fun dancing is. It was so satisfying to see the piece come together.”

As Zech highlighted, engaging in DW often fosters a sense of accomplishment for dancers and choreographers of all levels, while getting to learn new skills.

Another dancer in last weekend’s show, Fiona McLaughlan ’23, had similar things to say about her dancing experience. She participated in “Swing Dance!” which was choreographed by Jesús Rivas ’25.

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to dance in a group, and Dance Workshop was a super welcoming and cool way to do so,” McLaughlan said. “It was really fun learning how to swing dance and the environment backstage during the shows was very supportive and exciting.”

Clearly, the DW show this past weekend was an absolute success. For more information about next semester’s audition and show dates, follow @ccdanceworkshop on Instagram and/or contact the co-chairs to be added to the email list.

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