Danielle Jones ’17, an English major modified with African and African American Studies, from Cleveland, Ohio, has been a part of the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble since her freshman fall. We caught up with her recently between workouts to prepare for the DDE’s big spring performance (Friday and Saturday, May 27 & 28, 8 pm, The Moore Theater of the Hop) to ask about her love of dance and the dance ensemble, and a few related topics.
What’s the best-kept secret about the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble?
Besides the fact that we exist? A lot of undergrads don’t even know about us! Aside from that, one of the best things about the dance ensemble is the opportunity it offers to work with different professional choreographers—John [Heginbotham], Rebecca Darling, Rebecca Stenn—to learn different styles. When people think of modern dance or contemporary dance they can have preconceived notions about it, but working with various choreographers shows the different directions you can take it.
[Editor’s note: Come try out John and Rebecca Stenn’s dance ideas in a free workshop for at the Straus Dance Studio on Thursday, May 26, 12:15-1:45 pm. Email Dartmouth.email@example.com for more info or to register. Prior dance experience recommended.]
Why is the DDE important to you?
I’ve been dancing since I was 3. I started with ballet for 8 years and then switched to modern in high school. A lot of that was Horton technique [developed by early 20th-century American dance pioneer Lester Horton] and a little bit of African and jazz and a bunch of other classes I’ve taken over the years. When I came to Dartmouth I knew that I wanted to continue dancing. In my freshman fall, I went the Hop showcase [the Hop’s annual First-Year Night] and I met Genevieve Mifflin, who was a senior and part of the dance ensemble and told me about it. It means a lot to me to be able to come in and take dance classes and continue to learn new movement vocabulary and keep up technique. I knew I didn’t want to let that go, coming to Dartmouth. It’s also a fun activity, a really cool group of people. I also love the fact that it brings together grad students and undergrads, people from all walks of life —a lot of people I never would have met if I weren’t part of the dance ensemble—all coming together to create this piece of art which is the dance ensemble.
The DDE rehearses on weekends. What do you do in between the weekends to keep your conditioning?
I try to go to the gym. When I’m really good about it, I’m really good about it, but it’s easy to fall off. Definitely it’s also just interesting in terms of how flexible it has been able to be with my schedule. I really like the format of being able to come in on a weekend and have six hours of rehearsal over the course of the weekend and kind of knock it out, and during the week, review it—and I try to go to the gym. You don’t want to be huffing and puffing onstage—it’s not attractive!
It’s not everyone’s idea of the ideal weekend.
It’s my favorite kind of weekend! We’ll usually have rehearsal or class on Saturday from 12 to 1:30 and then from 1:30 to 4 or 5 we’ll have rehearsal, and on Sundays it’s usually 1:30 to 3 or 4.
What do you always try to do in the 24 hours before a performance?
Definitely get enough sleep! And ideally I would have liked to have finished all of my homework before because usually I am riding the high of a performance after and at times like that you don’t want to do anything because you are so excited. I also usually talk to or exchange texts with a family member before a performance, if they are not here to see.
Goofiest dance costume ever?
When I was 8 or 9, I was taking tap, and we wore—I don’t even know how to describe it—a crop top, one half green, the other half pink, with ruffle-y sleeves and gold sequins around the waist and matching pants with the same patterns and colors but on opposite sides, with ruffles around the knees. And then we had straw hats. I don’t know what we were supposed to be, but that was definitely one of my more ridiculous costumes!