International dance styles featured in Veselica show

Veselica, the international student dance ensemble on campus, held its spring concert beginning April 6 and performed five shows through to the end of the week in the Center for Art and Dance. The performance space, which doubles as a general dance studio for classes and rehearsals during the week, was transformed into an elegant space with pull-out bleachers, pastel lighting and a spacious stage.

Veselica (pronounced veh-SELL-eetsah) is a student dance company with a global perspective that strives to spread awareness of dance from around the world. After auditions each fall, the group rehearses twice weekly throughout the academic year, learning dance forms, choreography and traditions from around the world. They perform in a wide range of multicultural events, both on- and off-campus, spreading their knowledge about international dance as a pertinent art form.

The spring concert is Veselica’s main event of the year, for which members of the student dance group begin rehearsing in the fall semester. Before each number, an audio recording of Choreographer and Artistic Director Anne von Bibra informed the audience of the background, history and relevant contemporary context of that dance. These recorded segments of information about cultural traditions and costumes helped contextualize the entire performance and accomplish the dance group’s mission of spreading awareness of global dance forms.

“The show was a lot of work, but I love the group itself. Especially with the seniors, having their input and being able to add different elements into the dances [is really] fun. Our instructor Anne lets us change some choreography as well, so the creative aspect of it is really awesome too,” Veselica member Annie Caushaj ’19 said.

The students performed nine different dances, each from a different region of the world, such as Japan, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Mexico, Latvia, Norway, Hungary, India, Armenia and the United States. The varying styles, music and costumes of each performance demonstrated the diversity of dance, both traditional and contemporary, across the world.

During the latter half of the show, members of Veselica performed a Norwegian dance, during which Thea Lund ’19 sang a song in Norwegian. The audience was also fortunate to see an Armenian performance by members of Veselica and the St. Olaf Dance Company, which involved unique music and interaction between dancers.

Before the final song, audience members were invited to kick off their shoes and join several performers and von Bibra on stage to learn the steps of a Macedonian dance, Las Nodo. The entire audience participated, joining hands and enjoying the interactive portion of the concert.

“Basically we do dances from all over and I guess try to bring that cultural perspective into everything. We try to take dances from everywhere we can even though we’re very Eurocentric,” Caushaj said.