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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, February 22, 2024

Tufts Dance Collective dances their way through ‘Your Roman Empire’

Student dancers and choreographers reflect on semester show and community.

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Tufts Dance Collective’s semester show, “TDC Presents: Your Roman Empire,” on Dec. 2 in Cohen Auditorium, was a performance for the ages.

TDC is one of many dance groups on Tufts’ campus that highlight student creativity and freedom of expression. Student choreography and creative wit are at the forefront of this energetic and playful club.

TDC has been around for at least 15 years and is a community collective many enjoy participating in, leading or spectating. As one of the most highly anticipated student performances at Tufts, tickets for TDC often sell out within minutes of going on sale.

There were 14 different group dances this semester. In pairs, students pitched names and themes around which to choreograph their dances. With titles like “Phineas and Ferbalicious and “Barb Mitzvah,” the music and choreography of the dances often emulate and combine pop culture references.

The club is open to all undergraduate students, except for first years in their first semester, and no previous dance experience is required.

Sophomore Ava Van Gelder, who took part in her first TDC performance this semester, explained why she joined TDC.

“I think at Tufts, it’s kind of hard because all of the dance groups are very elite, and so I wanted a fun outlet to dance where it was in a much more casual setting, low stress, laid back but still a lot of fun,” Van Gelder said.

After attending the TDC general interest meeting at the beginning of the semester, prospective dancers can choose to fill out applications for as many dances as they want.

During the hour-long rehearsals once a week, groups practice their dances while getting to know their fellow group members. The bonding and choreography practice culminate in a public dress rehearsal and performance at the end of the semester.

TDC co-President Eva Tyomkin explained how the club brings together students from across campus.

“[TDC] breaks down all those weird Tufts things where people stick to their groups and stay kind of cliquey, but everyone during TDC … none of that exists and you're all being silly, making a joke of yourself,” Tyomkin said.  

This semester, Tyomkin and co-President Luke Morris were in charge of overall planning for the event, including organizing rehearsal spaces, communicating with the Cohen Auditorium staff, managing lighting and choreographing the dance.

“There's a lot of preparation going into it but it is truly so rewarding,” Morris said. “[Knowing people] through TDC is a weird bond, but we can laugh about that together.”

Tyomkin and Morris are both longtime members of the club. After two semesters of being a dancer, Tyomkin joined the TDC executive board fall semester of her junior year. Morris joined TDC his first-year spring and choreographed his first dance sophomore fall with someone he met in his first dance. 

In addition to being co-President of TDC, Tyomkin, who had no prior dance experience, choreographed “Sneaky LinkedIn” this semester with senior Will Carter. 

“I have no dance experience, no knowledge of how dance works, no formal training … I don't know what I'm supposed to look like or what's supposed to happen,” Tyomkin said.

As a pre-med biochemistry major, Tyomkin said TDC was an outlet and opportunity to have fun. When assignments pile up and exams loom, TDC allows students to focus on spending time with others in a new and exciting way.

Morris did not choreograph a dance this semester. Instead, he was a dancer in Will Rubin and Renee Singh’s “Papa’s Cupcakkeria dance.

“I was truly blown away by all the dances this semester … [‘Papa’s Cupcakkeria’] had a bit of a plot in there, which I always appreciate,” he said.

Morris said being co-President was a very fun experience as it opened his eyes to more of the planning and efforts that go into making TDC the special and fun group it is.

“Thanks to everyone who came to the show. And thank you to all the people involved this semester, especially the choreos and my e-board,” he said. “It was great, everyone had so much fun with each other and that's really what it comes down to.”

Sophomore Maddox Weisz, who joined TDC for the first time this fall, was in the dance “Hey It’s Fred, Again,“ choreographed by Anna DeCotis and Jaden Shemesh. The theme of the dance was a combination of the DJ sensation “Fred Again” and the 2000s YouTube personality “Fred.”

Weisz explained how he enjoyed meeting a variety of people from across campus through TDC.

“It’s really fun. … I highly recommend [TDC]. You’ll make a bunch of new friends. The community is amazing,” Weisz said. “And it really is whatever you want it to be. So the more effort you put in, the more you get out. No matter what you do, it'll be good and you'll have fun.”

Junior Andrew Kerpel, who was Weisz’s dance partner, emphasized this feeling of community within TDC.

“I’m able to get closer with other students that I wouldn't otherwise cross paths with while working towards a collective goal,” Kerpel said.

Show day highlights the hard work of the TDC executive board, choreographers and dancers in a jaw-dropping performance. With their dancing, people show off their talent and collaborative efforts to make something special. Everyone works together to make sure everyone is safe and feels comfortable performing.

“My favorite part was probably getting to perform in the show and getting to watch everyone else perform. It's really fun to see everyone else's dances and what they created,” Van Gelder said.

TDC will be back in the spring semester with new dances and applications. Anyone interested in applying should follow @realtuftsdancecollective on Instagram and attend the general interest meeting in the spring.

“[TDC] is so magical … because just the fact that everyone gets to devote a whole day just to carefree, silly [and] make a fool of themselves is my favorite thing in the whole world about TDC,” Tyomkin said.