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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Music and dance groups work to increase communication, collaboration

From left to right, Michelle Herzog, Jack Cramer and Elliot Cobb perform in a dress rehearsal for a part of Katabasis, a student organized play written by Kellyn Henthorn on Feb. 23, 2014.

Tufts' vibrant music and arts scene is exemplified by the large assortment of student-run groups ranging from a cappella to tap dancing. A consequence of having so many, however, is the challenge of communication and collaboration among them.

Some collections of extracurricular activities have created umbrella groups that have existed on campus for years. Others, however, are still just beginning. The recently-launched newsletter Jumbo Music aims to increase communication amongst students with interest in music and the wide-ranging organizations.

"[Mitch Mosk (LA '14) and I] both came into Tufts knowing that there's a lot of musical groups on campus, but we felt like a lot of the musical scene was very scattered," sophomore Nitesh Gupta, who co-founded Jumbo Music and is also the online editor of the Daily, said. "We wanted to find a way to unite the scene, so we emailed a bunch of people and talked to the music department about their ideas."

According to Gupta, the co-founders eventually discovered a simple but effective way to connect students involved with the music scene and to urge others to attend events on campus.

"What we came to as a starting point was a newsletter for all things music at Tufts," he said. "The music department would email us every week based upon what events they wanted us to share with the Tufts community. We ended up getting 500 subscribers or so."

Jumbo Music's focus is primarily music at Tufts, although it is not solely limited to events happening on campus. Groupmuse, a website that allows people to host semi-public classical music performances in the comfort of their own home, has also reached out to Jumbo Music.

"[Groupmuse] was started by a Tufts alum ... [so] we would basically advertise for them through the mailing list," Gupta said.

Members of the Tufts community are encouraged to submit event details to be advertised in the Jumbo Music newsletter.

"We thought it was a cool way to unite the people who are interested in music at Tufts," Gupta said.

A diverse array of student-run dance groups makes up a different niche at Tufts. With the exception of guest performances in shows, though, there is very little collaboration.

Though certain dance groups like Sarabande and Tufts Tap Ensemble fall under Pen, Paint, & Pretzels (3Ps), there is no existing umbrella organization specifically for dance groups at Tufts.

"It would be very useful to have a dance umbrella," Sarabande President Natasha Mitra, a senior, said. "For Sarabande we have a lot of guest groups performing in our shows, and if we had a time and place to meet every week or bi-weekly it would be really useful."

According to Mitra, Sarabande reaches out to many different dance groups as their shows near to fill eight to 10 guest performance slots in between their dances. Some students participate in multiple dance groups, which allows for a certain degree of communication, Mitra said.

While not focused on dance specifically, 3Ps acts as an umbrella organization for Sarabande and a number of other groups. These range from sketch comedy troupes like Major: Undecided to theatrical groups like Bare Bodkin and Torn Ticket II.

"The cool thing about being an umbrella group is that, especially with the 3Ps, you get to be the center of the performing arts community on campus," senior and 3Ps President Alison Tai said. "It's easier to get together and hang out with all the people you want to hang out with and meet new people who are doing similar things to you even if they're in entirely different groups."

For the most part, having an open line of communication amongst a variety of groups has few drawbacks. However, it can at times be difficult to manage a group of such large magnitude.

"It's hard to keep track of everyone and shows are bound to happen at the same time," Tai said.

Although these student groups currently operate independently of the academic department, the Department of Drama and Dance aims to provide as much support as possible to extracurricular groups.

"The Tufts Dance Program can act as a platform to get the word out," Director of Dance Renata Celichowska said.

According to Celichowska, extracurricular groups can apply to use Tufts facilities for rehearsal space. The Department of Drama and Dance states on its website that student groups must submit a contract at the beginning of each semester to make a request to use the space. If a group discontinues its use of the space, another group is permitted to take the vacant spot.

"[The availability of the space] is one of the things I can see being really beneficial," Mitra said.

According to Mitra, not that many students who participate in student-run groups are also involved in the dance program.

"There is some overlap, but not as much as I think there should be," Mitra said. "I think a lot of people separate their academic life from their extracurricular life [but] it would be better if we could find a way to integrate them."

Mitra, who will graduate with a minor in dance, said classes can be very useful to student dancers by giving them time to hone their technical skills. And in recent years, both the Tufts Dance Program and student groups have benefitted by strengthening their connection with each other.

"We're starting to create a better relationship," Mitra said.