Photo by Taylor Blackson
On Monday, Feb. 13, I got the chance to talk to senior Simone Marentes about the Melee Dance Troupe of Lawrence University. She also went into detail about her own dance class called Simone Style. As executive director of Melee Dance Troupe, Simone provided an inside look at dance at Lawrence and she highly encourages people of all skill-levels to give dancing a try because it can pleasantly surprise you.
Simone started dancing in eighth grade and fell in love with the art. She has tried most styles of dancing, and her favorite styles have been jazz, swing and contemporary. Her Simone Style dance class, organized through Melee, often combines these various styles of dancing in a laidback and improvisational manner. Her classes involve letting go of restrictions; the dance is completely up to the interpretation of the individual. Anyone can attend these classes and Simone encourages attendance from individuals who have no experience or history of dancing.
These Melee classes take place each week on Monday and Thursday from 7 P.M. to 9 P.M. Many of the classes revolve around conditioning, while other classes have specific themes, such as ballet or jazz. On Monday, Feb. 20, the theme of the class will be salsa and clave dancing. This “Melee and CFC Salsa Fiesta Night” will be held in Colman Hall and will involve not only dancing but chips and salsa.
Most Simone Style classes involve a small group of six to seven dancers. Simone states that she greatly enjoys this personal setting; it makes it much easier to bond with individual dancers. Forming these relationships is what makes a group like Melee so fun to be a part of. Simone often chooses her accompanying music based on the compatibility of dancing to its melody, yet it is even better when she can find lyrics that resonate with her as well.
Melee Dance Troupe puts on a Fall and Spring Term show each year. Since Simone is executive director, this preparation can be extremely stressful, but she says that the stress is accompanied by extreme reward. She is currently preparing eight dance pieces and choreographing six others for the spring show. Choreographing is one of her favorite parts of Melee, and she always falls in love with at least one piece per show. Simone also accredits a lot of help to Margaret Paek, Instructor of Dance, who offers Melee many opportunities for events and planning.
Finally, Simone wanted to stress that her classes are not about how good of a dancer you are. She is always inspired to see people dance in their own ways, whether they have a history of dance or not. Her Simone Style dance classes are a way to relieve stress and bond with other people while having fun and expressing yourself. Anyone with any interest in dance is welcomed to these classes; the schedule can be found on the Melee Dance Troupe Facebook page.