This column is targeted specifically toward collegiate a cappella groups, though some of the principles and ideas we discuss may transcend that sphere and be useful to high school and non-scholastic groups as well.
In this edition of Campus Connections, our focus is on: dancers.
While a cappella groups have been all the rage on college campuses in the last decade (and, indeed, for much longer at some institutions), another, generally more longstanding, core part of the performing arts scene has been dance troupes. Whether we’re talking about the college’s ballet ensemble, a spirit squad, an ad hoc hip hop dance crew, dance has been a major part of the college experience for so many young people.
Collaborating with dancers opens up a lot of possibilities for an a cappella group. First of all, there are opportunities to perform together—occupying the same stage and allowing a group of people focused on dance to deliver a visual interpretation of dance music, while the musicians focus purely on their sound.
In addition to teaming up for live performance, a cappella groups might consider teaming with dancers behind the scenes to plan their staging and choreography. Sure, some a cappella performers have dance backgrounds all their own, but by and large dancing is a secondary trade for singers, and many of them have accrued what experience they have via musical theater. People who have focused purely on dance will have a deeper repertoire of techniques, formats, and moves to suggest, in additional to practical experience as it pertains to breathing while dancing, and may have insights into how to plot movement in such a way that will not leave your key vocalists short of breath or distract from your trickier musical moments.
Even if your a cappella group struggles to meaningfully collaborate with dancers artistically, at the most basic level, it doesn’t hurt to reach out for cross-promotional purposes. Let’s face it, unless you’re operating at a school with an arts focus, the performing arts probably take a backseat at your institution—garnering less attention, less funding, and less support than pursuits like inter-campus sports. It never hurts to try to cross-pollinate audiences by mutually agreeing to promote each other’s events via your Facebook pages, hanging flyers in each other’s performance spaces, or making mention of one another during live performances. Actually go to dance performances, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the return on your investment.
Spearheading a collaborative, supportive, and integrated art scene on your campus can be an excellent way of nurturing community, opening opportunities for better performance, and drawing more attention for everyone involved.