Just the other day I wrote my first blog post for Camp Alleghany on what is being called the Department Series. I’m going to be writing one blog post on each of our Departments to help you better understand what’s on offer in the activity areas of camp.
This is the second one. In no particular order I am starting with the Dance Department.
Camp Alleghany’s Assistant Director, Elizabeth Shreckhise, wrote about dance once, but she asked me to do an updated post on the topic.
All about Dance at Camp Alleghany
Dance has always been a popular activity at camp. We have had record breaking sign ups recently — over half the campers each term took dance.
Our dance staff has always been great, but the past couple of years we have had some amazing staff both from our international counselors and the good old US of A!
All of our staff are very talented and work so well together that the dance department is always a fun place to be for both campers and staff.
And it’s a great way to get in some serious summer exercise!
While the dance program is very focused on the “secretly themed” end-of-term dance shows, with practice of routines and choreography, learning performance skills and about choosing costumes and doing stage make-up, they also do warm-ups and learn about dance technique and their bodies, too.
In fact, I know Elizabeth would like to see even more of this going forward to strengthen the dance experience in an “all around,” kind of way. This would teach young dancers even more about the importance of stretching, and the value of warming up and cooling down in keeping their bodies flexible and strong.
Over the past couple years we have talked to the Heads of Dance about building more musicality into the program, too. We want them to be more aware of the musical count, the beat and tempo, and get them to choreograph to that rather than just to the words of the song (which is called Mickey-mousing in the dance world).
It’s easy to fall in the trap of choreographing to the words, especially for new choreographers, so we always want to be working on getting beyond that and to teach the camper-dancers to be aware of it, too.
But even with the additions that add to the all-around nature of the dance activity, the dance show is the main focus of what the dancers are working on at camp. The dance show is always a huge hit and it’s something the dancers, dance staff, and the whole camp looks forward to at the end of each term!
Recent dance news
With the help of two amazing Heads of Dance during the past two summers — Jessie Richmond (2014) and Lillian Wilkins (2015) — we have gone back to an older Camp Alleghany tradition of the Upstart* dancers being split into smaller groups, just like the other ages in camp (rather than one huge Upstart dance). But we’ve added the new tradition of a final, short, all-Upstart finale at the end of the dance show.
All the individual Upstart dances have the same theme, such as using a particular musical artist or a genre of music, or other themes. Some recent examples include a Haunted theme (2nd term 2015), Broadway (1st Term 2015), Justin Timberlake (2014), and Throwback, or Retro (2014).
This helps the Upstarts to be able to be highlighted in a smaller group rather than being lost in a huge crowd on a small stage.
Keep on Dancing!
We’re sure that Dance will continue to be one of the most popular activity Departments at camp.
And even those Senior campers who don’t choose Dance as an activity still get their dance on at the annual Greenbrier Dance. Then there’s also dancing in unexpected places and at oddball times when the spirit of movement comes alive, like at an all-camp gathering, or on tent row, or bursting into song in the Play Hall. That’s just the nature of the free spirit at camp.
Then there are those dedicated souls who want to practice their show routines whenever they get free time in preparation for the Dance Show!
We love what Dance brings to camp. And every summer it’s fun to watch the Heads of Dance, their staff, and the campers work on themes, songs, routines, and prep for the shows!
Maybe this coming summer your camper will be one of our dancers!
— Taylor Fellows, Program Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls
*Upstarts are 15 & 16 year-old campers. You can read more about them and our other age groups, here.