Discovering the hidden gem that is Colby Dancers

As a senior approaching my final weeks at Colby, I like to think that I’ve spent my four years here trying to take advantage of as many of the lectures, performances, events, and opportunities that are offered to us. I’ve loved going to the various a capella concerts to watch my friends perform, I try to see as many Story Times as I can, I go to guest lecturers, movie screenings, art shows, concerts, lacrosse games, and even a football game once a year. That being said, this past Friday, April 22, I discovered an event that I’d never been to.

On a whim, I decided to join a few of my friends to go see the Colby Dancers Spring Show on Friday night. In the back of my mind, I was pretty confused as to why people were going in the first place. I had heard of the Colby Dancers before, but I never really knew who they were or what they were about. In any case, I went along because it was Friday night and—if nothing else—I could just pop up to the pub once it was done. What I experienced was so far from what I expected: the roughly half-hour long show ended up being some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a Colby event.

For all of the sorry souls who either couldn’t make it to Colby Dancers, didn’t think it was worth their time, or didn’t hear about it, the only way I can describe the show is by comparing it to something we all (except for Feb Frosh) experienced freshman year. Do you remember the COOT fashion show? You got herded into a tent with several hundred other freshmen, only a few of which you could recognize—and of those, even fewer whose names you’d actually managed to retain—confused, nervous, excited, and unsure of what you were about to experience. Next thing you know, there are all these older kids on stage acting out bizarre skits to cool music, and it looks like at that moment they are having more fun than anyone on earth. You think you’ve fallen into some sort of a weird Jumanji world or Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole situation, but instead of everything being horribly trippy and sort of frightening it’s just an amazing place where everyone seems really fun.

Essentially, that was my experience on Friday night. I walked into Page Commons about six minutes late because I had just been scarfing down a large chicken caeser salad wrap at Shelby’s Deli on KMD. Walking in, still sort of wiping the caeser dressing from the corners of my mouth, I was greeted by the beautiful and familiar sound of Lil Wayne’s gravelly voice rapping over some anonymous person repeatedly saying the words “a milli” in the 2008 hit single, “A Milli,” by Lil Wayne. At that moment, I knew I was in for a treat. What followed was the remainder of a mash-up dance performed by ten students including the group’s co-presidents Cathryn Ryan ’16 and Samantha Sturchio ’16. Overall, the performance was the perfect introduction. Within minutes my heart was racing and I was fighting the urge to jump on stage and join in.

Despite having been recently satiated by the delicious wrap I had just purchased, I found myself hungering for more. No, not more romaine lettuce and grilled chicken smothered in creamy caeser dressing and thrown together in a roasted red pepper wrap—more Colby Dancers. Luckily, I was immediately rewarded by a troupe of senior women performing a nostalgia-fueled retrospective of their time at Colby. The piece was choreographed by Gabi Cortez ’16, and aptly titled “A SWUG’S Life.” It was during this performance where the flurry of emotions I was experiencing nearly manifested themselves in the form of tears. The fifteen women—along with the help of Tim Gallagher ’16—took audience members through their college lives by dancing to a hit song from each year. Never before would I ever have guessed that Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” had the sentimental weight to induce full body goose bumps, but now I know it does. I was instantly brought back to freshman year when I quickly learned that the wardrobe I had brought to college had been in desperate need of more four-dollar Hawaiian shirts that were purchased from Goodwill and smelled like old people. As the trip down memory lane continued, the ladies hit all of the classics: “Timber” by Ke$ha for sophomore year, “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit for junior year, and of course Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” for senior year—the performance for which included a particularly impressive recreation of the music video’s cat/cow walk.

The remainder of the night saw a number of other memorable moments. At one point Cathryn Ryan was carried on stage by her fellow dancers (all dressed in camo print) to the beat of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild.” During the same performance, the audience was privileged enough to have the opportunity of watching Caitlin Heaps ’17 do the Soulja Boy. Later in the night, we got to have our hearts ripped out watching Colby sweethearts Danny Kassow ’16 and—again—Cathryn Ryan dance as we wondered why we never ourselves found a love so deep and pure. The rest of the night was dotted with countless other highlights. There was a slightly more polished yet just as impressive guest performance by Hipnotik; a wonderfully off-tune musical performance by Colby’s only a capella group for average singers, Mediocre; and a dance to the Selena Gomez song “Hands to Myself,” where the dancers inevitably, couldn’t keep their hands to themselves.

Where time really seemed to stop, however, was during a guest performance by Jamaal Grant ’16 and Ryan Ruiz ’16. In searching for the proper word to describe it, I thought of athletic, aerobic, erotic, and even sexual, but all of those adjectives would be too mild. The performance was carnal; so much so that by the end of it all Ryan Ruiz’s pants had torn in half, three girls I was sitting near were dripping sweat and lightly panting, and Last-Chance-Dance lists across the room had been dramatically reshuffled to reflect perhaps previously unrealized infatuations.

In summary, the night had literally awakened within me every emotion I think I know of, including a deep self-loathing for having never before been to one of these performances. If you’re a senior and you happened to miss the show, I genuinely feel so sorry for you and suggest you consider leaving work early and travelling up to Waterville next year to see it. If you are an underclassman, then you’re lucky that you still have time because Colby Dancers will shed light on a part of your soul you didn’t previously know existed.