Student Spotlight: Desmond Fambrini '16

by Owen Shepcaro | 10/28/14 3:13pm


Desmond Fambrini ’16 said he realized the significance of the performing arts in his life while he was deciding where to attend college. Having danced for more than a decade, performing with the Oakland chapter of Culture Shock Dance Troupe and participating in various national and international dance competitions, he knew that he wanted to continue to perform and sought a college that fit both his academic and creative needs. Dartmouth was and continues to be this school, he said.

“I was really surprised when I first visited Dartmouth at how diverse the art programs were,” Fambrini said.

Upon arriving at Dartmouth, Fambrini auditioned for all of the College’s dance troupes. He was accepted into SHEBA, a hip-hop dance group that he called an “amazing outlet.”

SHEBA, an acronym for Strictly Hip-Hop Expressions, Beats and Art, was formed in 1995 and has since become one of the foremost artistic groups on campus.

Fambrini’s natural talent, extensive experience and extreme enthusiasm are respected among SHEBA members, making him an unofficial leader in the group, SHEBA member Anna Ghnouly ’16 said.

Fambrini often choreographs dances for the group. When choreographing, he comes up with a move that he likes and then builds by working off of it.

“Even though there are a lot of things that go into the process, like making up the dances, choosing the songs and making the move fit with songs, I love having the opportunity to choreograph for SHEBA,” Fambrini said.

Fambrini said that his primary influences are several renowned troupes from his native Bay Area. He draws from both the specific moves and the overall styles of his influences, he said.

Fambrini’s choreography is notorious for being extremely difficult, the most elaborate and theatrical that the troupe employs, Ghnouly said. The dance that he choreographed for SHEBA’s Halloween show last year featured rapid hand motions, quick, intense upper body movement and a back flip by Fambrini himself.

“His dances are amazingly intricate and at the same time incredibly fast,” she said. “He’ll pick a very obscure dubstep song and have all of these moves on offbeats that no one can hear but him. You really need to clear your head completely to be able to learn Desmond’s choreography.”

Despite his intensity, Ghnouly said that Fambrini is a great teammate.

“He always encourages the entire troupe and always lets people know when he likes a move or a song,” she said.

Fambrini also volunteers with Kid’s After School Time, a program that helps foster the various interests of local children, twice a week. He has volunteered there since his freshman year, he said, because he loves working with children.

“I’m the dance counselor, so I can help kids learn how to do cartwheels or other beginner dance moves,” Fambrini said.

Theater professor Laura Edmondson, whose daughter participates in the after school program, said that Fambrini has a natural charisma that attracts everyone he interacts with.

“He reminds me of the Pied Piper,” Edmondson said. “The children are drawn to his magnetism, his zest for life and his kindness.”

Edmondson said that Fambrini brings “an infectious energy” that helps enliven her Human Rights and Performance class. Fambrini said that the class, which focuses on theatrical works that engage with the idea of human rights, has been difficult for him, because he is not used to performing as a character. The class is extremely rewarding, he said, and contributes to his abilities as a dancer by making his dancing more human and expressive.

Fambrini said he is considering pursuing a career involving the development and assistance of children.

“All of my work experience and internships have been involved with either education or law,” Fambrini said. “I’m considering applying to either graduate school for education, where I would specialize in child advocacy or child psychology, or law school, where I would focus on child advocacy in the judicial system.”

The last word with Desmond Fambrini ’16

Favorite Animated Movie: “Finding Nemo” (2003)

Favorite Band from Childhood: NSYNC

Correction appended (Oct. 28, 2014):

This article initially incorrectly stated the process Fambrini follows when choreographing dances. He does not always plan his choreography before making music selections.

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