H and Lodj Croos pull off performances under time crunch

Participating Dartmouth students welcomed the incoming class with original lyrics and choreography.

by Kylee Sibilia | 9/14/17 12:15am

It’s awkward. People are arguing. You’re looking around, unsure of whether or not this is supposed to be happening. Everyone sitting around you looks just as confused. Upperclassmen in crazy outfits shout about dehydration or kitchen crises, and you have no idea what to think.

And then they all burst into song.

One of the most memorable parts of a Dartmouth First-Year trip is the chaotic beauty of the shows put on by H Croo in Sarner Underground and by Lodj Croo at the McLane Family Lodge at the Dartmouth Skiway. By the time bright-eyed freshmen and their trip leaders see these performances, student performers rehearse and polish the pieces to near perfection.

The incubation period for these shows is extremely rapid. H Croo spends its first day on campus brainstorming songs to parody, the second day writing lyrics and the third day revising and choreographing. After that comes the dress rehearsal and subsequently the final shows. Lodj Croo also spent about two days on brainstorming and lyric writing, in addition to a half day on choreography. Alana Bernys ’20, a member of this summer’s H Croo, explained how it was possible for the process to happen so quickly.

"It was a very collaborative experience,” Bernys said. “It was very free-flowing, and everybody worked on what they felt like working on at the time. In terms of choreography, it was a similar process, but maybe a couple more people took a more direct role.”

Bernys said that several members decided to take unofficial ownership over certain songs.

H Croo’s songs focused on a range of key topics like safety, rules and preparation for trips. Lodj Croo’s songs, on the other hand, had to be about a course or dish in the meal. 

With such a rushed learning process, one would expect it to be difficult for Croolings to remember lyrics and choreography. However, Jake Klein ’20, a member of this summer’s Lodj Croo, explained that the collaborative nature of the experience made the memorization relatively easy. 

“I remember thinking, ‘Ok now I have to sit down and memorize it,’” Klein said. “But we had already been working with it for so long that we basically already knew it, which was pretty cool.”

Sophie Smith ’20, another member of Lodj Croo, emphasized the lighthearted nature of the learning process.

“We’d be doing kitchen prep and blasting the show music in the kitchen and just screaming the lyrics and trying to memorize them and just going over them again and again,” Smith said.

Despite the performance-based aspects of the Croos, most Croolings have little to no singing or dancing experience before they join. More important than technical ability is the ability to let go and have fun during the shows.

“I was nervous about it,” Smith said. “It just kind of happens naturally, like the dancing we do isn’t even real dancing. It’s just kind of like you keep moving and have fun.”

Both H Croo and Lodj Croo performed their respective shows once during every Trips section, in addition to all their other responsibilities coordinating the logistics of the trips program. The Croos are busy from morning until night, which doesn’t leave much downtime for members. H Croo’s main sleeping time is from midnight to 5 a.m., and Lodj Croolings went to bed anywhere between midnight and 2 a.m. and woke up between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. 

Despite this lack of sleep, the Croolings were still able to maintain enthusiasm. Simon Ellis ’20, a member of H Croo, said keeping spirits up was easier than people might think.

“I thought it was going to be really difficult, but what kept me going was the new energy of each section,” Ellis said. “It’s a really interesting relationship of how much energy you give the trippees and how much they give back. Like if they’re really excited to be there, we’re going to be really excited, and then they get even more excited.”

One aspect of the shows that was different this year was the fact that Lodj Croo performed at the McClane Family Lodge instead of the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. This change brought increased capacity in the dining room, meaning that the Lodj Croo only had to perform one dinner show instead of the traditional two. That granted them the flexibility to add a finale song to the lineup. Croolings also had a lot more space to move and created more ambitious choreography. 

The artistic process involved bonded the Croos not just with each other, but with the incoming class of freshmen they were tasked with welcoming to Dartmouth. 

“I knew two people on H Croo before,” Ellis said. “I had never even seen most of them before, and now we’re all super close. I was actually talking to a trippee in Foco the other day who saw us all eating dinner together and was like, ‘Oh it’s so great to see you guys are friends in real life!’”

“Knowing 21s and having that ­— in that I was on Lodj Croo and that I’d met them — and possibly having other freshmen not go through a feeling of isolation and loneliness is pretty fulfilling,” Klein said. “I’m having lunch with a lot of them this week.”

Bernys is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.