Annual Dimensions show created by students, for students

by Elise Higgins | 2/21/16 6:01pm

For those of us buried in the week eight grind, Dimensions of Dartmouth might seem like a distant memory, but for current and future freshmen, it is just around the corner.

Last week, hopeful ’19s applied to be part of this spring’s Dimensions program designed to welcome prospective Dartmouth students. Students involved dedicate many hours and expend immeasurable energy to pull off a successful event.

Harrison Perkins ’18, a leader of Dimensions this year, says when looking at applicants, he and his co-leader, Maddie Chisholm ’18, look for students who are energetic, unique and passionate about Dartmouth. From the applicants, the pair will choose 15 men and 15 women to form the team.

Current Dimensions’ leaders are drawn from a pool of the previous years’ participants, Perkins said.

In addition to Perkins and Chisholm, other former Dimensions performers help with the production of the show.

Emily Smid ’18, a team leader for this year’s shows, said that as a leader or “dimentor,” she will be involved in helping the performers or “dimentees” pick songs and write lyrics for them.

Though upperclassmen provide some guidance and leadership, the freshmen truly have the power to bring the Dimensions show to life, Perkins said.

Aaron Cheese ’18, another former Dimensions performer, said that the show was was very student driven, specifically focusing on freshman, because they are the ones who choose the songs, write the lyrics and choreograph the dances.

Perkins said that his role as leader mostly includes helping the freshmen make decisions for the show.

“We’re more advisors,” Perkins said. “They do all the heavy lifting.”

Because of their experience, the leaders know which songs will work well and which ones will not. Cheese said they look for songs that are upbeat, recognizable and have no long pauses.

“[Pauses] make it very awkward because there is nothing for the performers to do,” Cheese said.

Smid seconded Cheese, adding that songs with short sentences as opposed to long, drawn-out phrases are better because the performers are shouting the lyrics rather than actually singing them.

Former Dimensions performer Zoe Snow ’18 said that the students perform songs about various topics ranging from academics to food.

“We address the qualms that freshmen might have coming into Dartmouth,” Snow said.

The choreography of the Dimensions show aims to be more entertaining than technical.

“Most of the dance moves were half brought up as a joke, then really integrated into the dance just because everyone enjoyed doing them,” Snow said.

Smid said that all of the students contributed to the process of creating songs and dances.

“It was definitely a collective effort,” she said.

Students involved in last year’s show felt comfortable and willing to contribute ideas because the performers were all very supportive of each other, Smid said.

“It was a really great group to be a part of because everyone is really accepting of everyone else’s creative whims,” Smid said.

Rehersals for the show are time-consuming, and students who participate often grow close over the hours spent practicing the songs and dances.

Once spring term begins, so do rehearsals for the show. Perkins said that the first practice is held the Sunday before spring term begins, and the show is the Monday of the fourth week. During these three weeks of preparation, the students put in mnay hours of rehearsal time, Perkins said.

Smid said that the performers averaged about eight hours of practice per week, with a four hour rehearsal on Sundays and the rest of the hours divided between weekdays.

Though participating in Dimensions is a large time commitment, “dimentees” say they enjoyed the experience because of its fun and creative nature.

“It was really fun and I enjoyed doing it,” Smid said. “It sort of felt like I was just taking a break from my work.”

Smid, a member of the dance group SHEBA, had a wealth of performing experience to draw from before participating in Dimensions. However, not all performers were previously involved with the performing arts on campus.

“There are people who do Dimensions who don’t have other creative outlets, so it’s really cool to see those people step up and be excited about it,” Smid said.

The large number of applicants this year demonstrates Dartmouth students’ excitement for Dimensions, Perkins said.

This year’s Dimensions program includes two preset sections, April 12 to 13 and April 17 to 19, as well as a chose-your-own-date option for potential students who cannot make these two weekends.

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