Raaz, Sugarplum to perform at HopStop this weekend

by Haley Gordon | 1/14/15 6:05pm

Members of Raaz and Sugarplum will take the stage in Alumni Hall Saturday at 11 a.m. to teach Upper Valley children about Indian dance and ballet. The event is part of the Hopkins Center’s monthly HopStop series, which aims to introduce school-aged children in the Upper Valley to the arts, Mary Gaetz, the Hop’s outreach and arts education coordinator, said.

“Our purpose is to introduce our youngest community members to the arts in a way that’s really fun and accessible and makes them want to get up and dance or sing or play an instrument,” she said.

For this event, Gaetz said she reached out to Raaz and Sugarplum due to the groups’ unique styles — South Asian and contemporary ballet, respectively — which the audience members could compare and contrast. The two groups will perform separately, each having time to showcase their skills and lead the audience members in some basic moves.

Sugarplum co-president Valerie Zhao ’15 said that the group will start with fundamental ballet positions, then transition to jumps and movements that she enjoyed doing when she was young.

“For kids, it’s basically just about creative movement, giving them a chance to get up, move around and get introduced to dance,” she said.

Arati Gangadharan ’18, a member of Raaz, said that her group will be teaching audience members some simpler moves from a popular Bollywood song “1 2 3 4 Get on the Dance Floor.”

Both groups have tailored their sets with the audience in mind. The customization necessitated more practices for the groups in the first two weeks of the term, Gangadharan said.

Sugarplum needed to adjust its set in order to accommodate the change in floor space, as the dancers are accustomed to performing on hardwood floors, Zhao said. She added that the Hop staff was very open and easy to work with while organizing the event.

While groups involved in HopStop events receive a small stipend, they also have the opportunity to perform for a different audience. Dance groups at the College tend to perform in Greek houses or on stage for an audience comprised of peers, while at HopStop performances they can entertain a crowd composed of a different demographic.

Gaetz said she most enjoys the energy and variety of different performances. She said that she remembers a previous HopStop, where a musician was able to engage the audience.

“This one little girl just jumped up and was rocking out in the front row, and she was just going to town,” she said. “Just that energy and that spirit is so rejuvenating and exciting to see, and to know that the Dartmouth students can bring that kind of joy to complete strangers on a Saturday morning in January is really exciting.”

The student performers said that they are excited to work with the children on Saturday.

“Kids are perfect to teach because all they want to do is learn,” Gangadharan said. “They rarely accept failure and always ask questions.”

The Hop hosts the HopStop events one Saturday a month throughout the school year.

HopStops are recommended for children aged three and up, and families are encouraged to attend together, she said. The events are free and open to the public.

The event was formerly held in the Faulkner Recital Hall, but was moved to Alumni Hall as the program began attracting a larger audience, Gaetz said. While the stage has become more formal, the event itself remains relaxed and interactive.

“There are no formal seats,” Gaetz said. “You can sprawl out on the carpet if you want to, you can bring snacks, you can bring a book, you can even get up and run around for a little bit.”

Past HopStop events have featured both professional artists and Dartmouth student groups. Previous College groups that have performed at HopStop include the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble, the World Music Percussion Ensemble and the Gospel Choir. Events scheduled for this year include the Fred Haas Jazz Quintet, The Nile Project and Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys.