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Welsh Family Hall offers talented students a rare chance to dance

Sheila Flynn | Monday, January 26, 2004

Before coming to Notre Dame last year, sophomore Mary Dubon spent her life on stage, dancing and performing.Then she enrolled in the University, and that stage was pulled out from under her. “As a freshman, I had come to the campus and, since I was a dancer, was looking for an outlet to dance,” Dubon said. “There wasn’t really anything that wasstrictly dance, as far as performance goes.”So she took matters into her own hands and created something that filled Washington Hall Saturday night with an enthusiastic, cheering crowd and a litany of talented, excited dancers.The Welsh Family Hall Dance Show took the stage nearly nine months after Dubon initially suggested the idea to Welsh’s hall council. Working through the dorm and Student Activities, Dubon, with show business manager Catherine Mulhern, obtained funding for advertising and booked Washington Hall. She took on the role of director and held auditions during the fall and selected 12 acts, reflecting a wide range of styles and abilities.”We wanted diversity,” Dubon said.And the show achieved that, featuring everything from members of the Irish Step Dancers and Ballet Folklorico to routines of jazz, ballet, tap and swing. The dancers performed to a variety of tunes – ranging from Janet Jackson’s “If” to Coldplay’s “Politik” to the musical Chicago’s “All That Jazz” – and the music, along with the energetic and skillful dancing, sparked the enthusiasm of the audience, whose clapping and cheering unquestionably pumped up the atmosphere of the already excited dancers.”It was great – I could hear all my friends scream,” said sophomore Meghan Winger, who has been dancing since she was two years old and whose family flew in from Florida to see her perform in the TroopND and ballet routines.”The turnout was surprising – there were so many more people there than I thought would be there,” Winger said.Senior Luke Slonkosky, president of Notre Dame’s Swing Club and one of the few male participants in the show, agreed. Performing to Michael Buble’s “Moondance,” Slonkosky and dance partner Meg Dominick drew quite an energetic response from the audience.”They were a loud crowd, which was terrific,” he said, adding that “there were so many more people” than he had initially expected.The other acts were extremely well received, as well. The show opened with a routine to “Footloose,” and the first act followed with Irish step dancing, a lyrical number, the swing dance, a solo performance, Ballet Folklorico and a spirited routine choreographed and presented by TroopND. After a brief intermission, the second act opened with a jazz number to “If” and continued with a ballet performance, another solo act, and a tap performance, finishing with another jazz number. “I was elated,” Dubon said, adding that the show went “better than I could have ever expected.”Everyone was very pleased,” she said.That success, combined with the overwhelming turnout, has increased desire to present the show again next year.”It was a beautifully orchestrated dance show,” Welsh rector Candace Carson said. “We hope that next year the Welsh Family Dance Show will even attract more performers.”And, in the opinions of this year’s dancers, that won’t be a problem. They said there is a great enthusiasm for performance among dancers on campus, and those dancers not affiliated with groups such as the Pom Squad would love the chance to showcase their talents.”There’s a pretty big emptiness,” Winger said, explaining the plight of those dancers not affiliated with the Pom Squad or not interested in hip-hop performance groups. “There’s kind of nothing else for a dancer.”Slonkosky voiced similar sentiments.”You often see voice and acting,” he said, “but dancing, I think, is the lost art.”