November 20, 2003

Fall Into Step

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The first week of school brings many responsibilities for Cornell students. We are forced to choose the classes that will consume so much of our time and energy based on very limited amounts of information. We have to drink copious amounts of water and Gatorade in a futile attempt to reverse any of the aches, pains, and liver damage that we may have incurred throughout Orientation Week. We are obligated to repeatedly share the same three stories about our summer and Orientation Week antics with anyone who will listen, and with many who will not. However, for the ladies of Shadows Dance Troupe, the first week of classes includes an added element of responsibility. Almost immediately upon arrival in Ithaca, these dedicated dancers were already holding auditions, the first step in preparing for Fall Step, their premiere performance of the semester.

On Friday, November 21st Shadows Dance Troupe will host the ninth annual Fall Step, a celebration of dance, which brings a broad sampling of campus dance groups together to join forces for one evening of performance. In addition to showcasing Shadows’ energetic blend of modern, jazz, and hip-hop, Fall Step will feature ten other groups ranging in style from ballet to belly dance. The evening spans the globe, including dances rooted in traditional African, Indian, Middle Eastern, and East Asian forms. Shadows will be performing four numbers — one modern, two jazz, and one hip-hop, while the other groups will each perform one number. For the past nine years, Fall Step has continuously expanded its repertoire, and it will include two new acts this year: the Cornell Filipino Association, which will perform a tribal “Coconut Dance” and Pandora, which primarily focuses on lyrical dance.

All of Fall Step’s proceeds will benefit On-Site Volunteer Services (OSVS). OSVS is a student-run organization that places student volunteers in a variety of volunteer settings in order to benefit the larger Ithaca community. The proceeds from Fall Step will directly support project management and events programs. The project management program directly benefits community agencies by recruiting volunteers to complete projects for a variety of non-profit organizations, ranging from Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services to AIDS work to Cayuga Nature Center. The volunteers then work directly with a program manager, a student employee of OSVS, which frees the full-time staff of a given program, like the Housing Services, to expend more resources on other, full-time projects. The event management program recruits large numbers of volunteers to ensure the success of such popular community events as the Chili Cook Off, Kids Book Fest Ride for Life, AIDS work, and the Apple Harvest Festival. Fall Step, which typically raises approximately two thousand dollars, is OSVS’s premier fundraiser of the semester.

While Fall Step will once again bring its usual mix of diversity, energy, and talent to the stage, one major component will change this year: the actual stage. Due to simultaneous renovations in both the Statler Auditorium, the event’s usual venue, and Bailey Hall, Fall Step has been forced off of Cornell’s campus and into the Commons’s State Theater. In a typical year, Shadows will guest perform at several other events. However, this year they have been unable to, due to the lack of available dance space on campus. Therefore, Fall Step will be the only chance to watch Shadows perform this semester.

Although the lack of dance space may have been a source of frustration for Shadows and the other dance troupes, the event organizers are welcoming this change in location as a chance to integrate the event into the larger Ithaca community. According to Rachel Ruggirello ’04, executive director of On-Site Volunteer Services, “Cornell is part of the Ithaca community, so it’s a really exciting opportunity for Cornell to get good publicity in the community, and have community members participate in such a fun event.” In order to adapt to the change in venue, the event organizers have expanded their advertising efforts by postering on the Commons and in the local malls and schools, emailing several community list serves, and sending invitations to a host of prominent Ithacans, along with the usual array of campus bulletins and quarter cards. In addition, OSVS is extending complimentary tickets to the Learning Web, in order to give disadvantaged middle-school students an opportunity to enjoy an exciting dance performance.

While the groups performing in Fall Step may represent a wide range of styles and cultural backgrounds, they all have one thing in common: their passion for performance. According to Erica Ritter ’05, co-chair of Shadows Dance Troupe, “we have a great variety of dance forms being represented at the show. From the Cornell Filipino Association, to Tap, Jazz, Sitara, and Belly Dancing, we really have it all, so it should appeal to a wide range of people. But we all have one thing in common — we all love to perform, we love to entertain, we just have so much fun.” It is this commitment and passion for dance, along with support for a good cause, that will undoubtedly make the quick trip to the Commons worthwhile.

Shadows will perform Fall Step at the State Theatre this Friday at 7:00 p.m.

Archived article by Talia Ron