Orchesis continues to foster environment of growth for students on campus

The Orchesis Dance Company is more than just a dance club on campus. It is an inclusive environment for all dancers and students to express themselves, grow their confidence and become surrounded by a positive community of fellow dancers. 

Orchesis is preparing for its 79th-anniversary season. This year, Orchesis raises its curtains on Nov. 3 for a community show. The dancers will also perform on Nov. 4 and 5 for a general show. The theme this year is “Halloween/Horror.”

“We chose this as the theme because it’s going to be held the week directly after Halloween,” said Orchesis President Samantha Russell, ’23. “A lot of students are still going to be in the spooky mood and we hope to add to the festivities.” 

Orchesis prides itself on being a positive community for all members. According to the group’s website, it strives to “provide an opportunity for Allegheny students to learn leadership and to work collaboratively with a diverse group of students through dance. We want to give everyone the chance, whether they have a lot of experience or it is their first time on stage, and bring the community together,”

Jazz and Dance Ensemble President and Orchesis Intermediate Ballet choreographer Delaney Kronheim, ’23, reinforced this mission statement. 

“There are so many people involved in the program. Some have never danced before or did when they were really young,” Kronheim said.

Kronheim also mentioned the importance of a choreographer’s perspective and how dancing can help students grow as people. 

“From a choreographer’s standpoint, it’s really cool to see people who haven’t danced or tried this type of dance style and see them try something new and get out of their comfort zone,” Kronheim said.

This year will bring one of the first real shows since the pandemic, and Orchesis is excited to be fully back in the studio without the constraints of the pandemic on the program. 

“Two years ago because of COVID, Orchesis did this weird thing where we videoed dances, and last year we had a way smaller group because I think people didn’t know what Orchesis was because we didn’t have a show the previous year,” Kronheim said. “This year there are more students which are super cool and we don’t have to consider as many health precautions.” 

This year’s group of Orchesis performers is largely made up of first-year dancers. 

“We’ve got a lot of (first-years) which is fun because it seems intimidating to try out during the first week of school,” Kronheim said. “I’m really excited about the larger turnout.”  

Since Orchesis  tryouts were the first weekend after classes, first-years did not have a lot of time to think about joining the program. Auditions and rehearsals started almost immediately in August for company members. This fast turnaround was an adjustment for many first-years, but they say it has been worth it. 

“I haven’t danced in a really long time and Orchesis has given me a chance to,” said Beth Ma, ’26. “I have also gotten to experience new styles without having to take a class.”

Orchesis also provides an outlet for freshmen to find new friends and meet new people. 

“It’s been a great way to meet other freshmen because a lot of us are all in the same dance numbers,” Ma explained. 

Being a fully student-run organization, the leaders of Orchesis claim this does not hinder their abilities to create better performance and actually makes their program better. 

“We have really strong leadership and there are always people we can reach out to,” Kronheim said. “We consult (Dance and Movement Studies Instructor) Betsy Summerfield a lot for little questions if needed. As a whole, the board is a pretty creative group and good at consulting with each other and making the show as good as it possibly can be.” 

With the number of time students put into each performance for Orchesis, the amount of student support and excitement is incredibly meaningful for those involved. According to Russell, the environment of the performance is unmatched.

“I just think it’s awesome that everyone can get on stage and everyone is hype,” Russell said. “The energy is just there. You walk in and you’re ready to go. The crowd is always cheering. You get a hugely supportive community and that’s what I think makes it special.”.

JaDE has also begun preparing for this year’s show, but its big performance is not until its benefit gallery in April.

“JaDE is a smaller group,” Kronheim said. “There are only 12 this year so all of the dance members are in all of the pieces. This group is fun because since it is so small, we really connect and bond as a group.” 

Both dance groups are continuing to practice for their upcoming shows. Admission to the Orchesis performances in November are free for students.