Students take to the stage over sophomore summer

By Emma Moley, The Dartmouth Staff | 6/25/13 9:00am

Sophomore summer is notorious for its less strenuous versions of year-round performance groups. Whether you’re not quite as theatrically gifted as you may wish, too involved during the year to join yet another group or simply terrified of long-term commitment, sophomore summer is the perfect time to tap in to your inner performer. Though you might be entirely intimidated by the idea of performing in front of your peers, the directors of summer performance groups encourage anyone with even the slightest inclination to take a risk and audition.

Here’s a list of a some of the summer groups available, covering everything from dance to a capella to improv.

Shebalite: Olivia Field ’15, Sheya Jabouin ’15 and George Sy ’15 are leading the summer’s famous hip-hop dance troupe. Of the roughly 60 students who showed up to the four-hour auditions on Friday, 29 new members, were selected. Auditions consisted of one group dance and a separate dance for boys and girls.

Jessica Ke ’15, a newly minted member of Shebalite, stresses that past dance experience is definitely not a requirement to join the group, though she used to be a cheerleader. Similarly, Field pointed out that many full-year members never danced before joining Sheba.

“Even in regular Sheba, some of the best dancers had zero experience, and hip-hop experience is relatively rare,” she said.

The year-round Sheba members plan to incorporate both original and previously performed choreography into their shows. Field said that though she and her co-directors hope to have fun this summer, members are still expected to be committed to the group.

“We want people to take it seriously,” Field said. “When they come to Shebalite, they’re still coming in for somewhat of a Sheba experience.”

Splendaplum: Led by co-directors Laura Vang ’15 and Valerie Zhao ’15, Splendaplum, the summer version of Sugarplum, has 20 new members. Sunday’s auditions included a warm-up, stretching, theatrical walks and the performance of a dance set to Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.”

Compared to Sugarplum, the summer group will be more “low-key,” Sugarplum member Katie McConnell ’15 said. “We’re going the route of the ‘14s, who focused less on technique and experience, and more on inclusion and having fun.”

Any new members who want to experiment with choreography are encouraged to contribute, and no experience is necessary. As McConnell said, “You don’t need training, but you need to be aware of your body and be able to pick up choreography.”

Splendaplum currently has four shows planned.

Summerphonics: Summerphonics, the only a capella group over the summer, is led by year-round members of the Dodecaphonics group. Katelyn Onufrey ’15 is summer president, with Haley Lynch ’15 as music director and Daniel Calano ’15 as business manager. Auditions were held on Sunday,,and deliberations are ongoing. The thirty-one students who tried out had to sing scales, pitch match and perform the verse and chorus of a song.

Onufrey said that most members of other year-round a capella groups do not try out for Summerphonics, choosing instead to take a break from singing. No musical experience is necessary and the group is less intense than the Dodecaphonics, Onufrey said.

Summerphonics has already scheduled several performances, including one during sophomore family weekend and another during the marriage proposal of an alumnus.

Dog Days of Summer: Though similar to the year-round Dog Day Players, this summer improv group is gentler to those not quite as familiar with theater and comedy. Alec Ring ’15 leads the group, along with Mike Haughey ’15 and Molly Chodakewitz ’15. At auditions this upcoming Tuesday, prospective new members will be tested in themed partner scenes, longform improv comedy and performances with existing members.

Ring hopes to take advantage of the summer’s flexibility, and still maintain the same free-form style.

“It’s fun to improvise with some new minds who have different perspectives, and teach them what we love to do,” Ring said.

Dog Days of Summer currently has one show planned with the Summerphonics and another in the second week of July.

Casual Thursday: On Monday June 24, Deby Guzman-Buchness ’15 and Max Samuels ’15 held auditions for Casual Thursday, another improv comedy group. Through a warm-up exercise and improv games, the two full-year members established a sense of how potential members can work with each other.

Guzman-Buchness emphasized that though she and Samuels might have more experience than the new members, every member will have equal opportunity to direct the path the group takes this summer.

Though people are often daunted by improv and consider themselves underqualified to perform, Guzman-Buchness believes that those without any prior experience are often the best candidates.


Emma Moley, The Dartmouth Staff