Legacy Dance group breaks away from traditional genres

On Saturday, Nov. 8, a new student-led alternative dance crew revealed the product of its months of work in a short but effusive showcase in the Lion’s Pause. The group is appropriately named Legacy Dance.

Legacy Dance was brought to St. Olaf by Don Williams ’18 who serves as the group’s choreographer and organizer.

“It is based on a group from my high school. I wanted to change St. Olaf students’ perspectives on dance,” Williams said. “Dance is more than popping, or twerking, or whatever else you do on the dance floor. It involves hard work. So I wanted to bring Legacy to St. Olaf.”

Williams recruited his group of seven dancers at the extracurricular fair this past September and they immediately set to work, learning a variety of styles. The group defies any one category or genre, seeking instead to promote a cultural shift in views of dance.

“Legacy is a dance group that wants more, wants to expand people’s horizon of dance and just wants to have fun as a team, because as a team, we learn so many things,” Williams said. “We learn communication, hard work and we learn how to stick together while still being ourselves. I tell them when they are dancing, ‘Don’t be like the other person next to you or even me – push your personality into it.’ So Legacy is where people can be themselves, but evolve.”

The showcase on Saturday followed the theme of a zombie apocalypse, beginning with a video warning St. Olaf of an incoming invasion, police siren lights from the Pause’s spotlights and alarm sounds while the dancers waited, motionless, in a single file line in the middle of the central aisle of the audience.

From there, they danced on stage in bright yellow jerseys and make-up smeared to imitate the wounds zombies bear. Williams took the lead and conducted Legacy as if he were its drill sergeant, but then all broke into a Beyoncé number that spliced between shocks of ballet, combinations from hip hop, some Zumba-esque moves, body percussion and stomp dancing. After two dance numbers, the showcase was over, and the dancers sat on the stage for a talk back session.

“If I had to describe Legacy in one word it would be diverse,” Williams said. “I know that’s something St. Olaf really strives for -diversity. A lot of these moves are things you can put in ballet, or that you can put in hip hop, so I just collaborate them all together into one performance.”

Williams explained the zombie theme as a twist on what it means to be a zombie and how we can see zombies in a more positive light.

“When you think of ‘zombie,’ you think, they don’t care, they’re just loose and they go for it. They don’t think of the risk. So I thought that could be our first performance, because if we think of ourselves as zombies, then it’s going for it, just going for the top- kicking as high as we can, popping as hard as we can, stepping as hard as we can,” Williams said.

And “hard as we can” is a worthy description of the dancers who were shouting, stomping, clapping and grooving, riveting the audience into the world of dance that could not be defined.

As a whole, the group has had success so far during rehearsals, retaining a consistent group of dancers, as well as continually gaining new ones. Legacy is still seeking to expand, and the group is currently welcoming new members, provided they are willing to work hard. Practices are Sundays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., and review sessions are Thursdays, 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., in Dittman Studio 2.

“If you just put the hard work in and try, then you went somewhere. It wasn’t just for nothing,” Williams said.

The group has an upcoming performance at the half-time of the boy’s basketball game, on Nov. 19, along with another half time show on Dec. 13. Look forward to more performances, a spring fashion show and appearences at campus events.