For any students who learned and auditioned for this year’s student-led production, RUSH, the song “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift is probably no longer at the top of their iTunes playlist; at least this is true for choreographer director Ashley Maloney.
“The choreographers, (Drew and I) got to spend about seven hours together in the Blackbox Theatre watching people dance to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” song,” Maloney said. “That was a bad song choice on my part. I can’t listen to it anymore.”
This spring semester marks the 11th year of the annual dance showcase. However, the difference this year is that the choreographers are not responsible for creating one dance routine, but two.
“Drew and I asked them to choreograph two dances so that we could have a longer show and because they technically have twice the brainpower and ideas as those who are choreographing on their own,” Maloney said.
Teaching a large group anything is difficult, but the doubled workload for choreographers also doubles the stress. This means double the time, costume orders, practices, personalities and visions.
Madison Raska understands these challenges first hand, especially as a first-year RUSH choreographer.
“So there are two totally opposite dances that you are responsible for with the other person (choreographer).” Raska said. “So like practices and scheduling them is hard, since we have 15 members in the 1920’s hip-hop routine and the other dance has eight members. But I’m also really busy with the dance team as well and keeping up with classes too, which makes this kind of hard.”
Raska has an extensive dance background and saw this is as a good learning opportunity.
Some students are frustrated with RUSH being switched from fall to spring, but as RUSH producers asked around, they thought the overall consensus would result in a higher involvement rate.
“Last year we heard a lot of people saying they would participate in RUSH if it was in the spring,” Maloney said. “So we listened. No matter what semester RUSH is in, there will always be timing or scheduling issues,” said Maloney.
Although participants might seem like they are on the bit smaller side, it was intentional.
“We purposefully didn’t advertise RUSH auditions as much because we were short on choreographers this year,” Maloney said. “Not every choreographer wanted to have 20 dancers in their dances so the amount that we have this year is perfect.”
From hip-hop to a techno puppet master – this year’s production won’t disappoint.
“RUSH crowds are always the best,” Raska said. “Especially the last performance, since it is at 9:30 and what parent will be there at 9:30 p.m.?”
With that said, Raska encourages everyone to be really loud, because it increases motivation for the dancers as well as their drive to perform their routine full-out.
Leading up to the event, there won’t be a shortage of hardships or bruises, but at the end of each performance, the thundering applause from the crowd, makes it all worth it.
“Everyone that is part of RUSH has one thing in common – they love to dance.” Maloney said. “RUSH is an opportunity to use the talents, passions and abilities that God has given us. It’s all for His greater glory.”
This is one year after the ten year anniversary of RUSH, which was a huge campus event involving as well as the creators of RUSH returning to campus professional dancers.
Rush performances are 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12; 7 and 9:30 p.m on Friday, Feb. 13; and 4, 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14, at in the England Proscenium Theatre of the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center.