[shoes]Plié, relevé, tendu, pas de bourré. Twelve dancers stand at the barré, arms extended with the characteristic grace of ballerinas, each a picture of concentration. They move through various ballet exercises, then all break out their tap shoes. This is not just a group of ballerinas. Their dancing talent extends beyond a single style; their discipline is admirable as they execute their exercises at each practice. But do not be fooled – though they look like they could be members of the Detroit Ballet, they are actually MSU students and members of Impulse Dance, a unique student organization on campus.
Impulse Dance is the creation of communication junior Heidi Swartzloff. When she came to MSU, she was looking for something specific regarding dance, and, when she didn’t find it among the numerous campus groups already existing, she decided to start her own. Swartzloff employed the help of her sister, who at the time was attending University of Michigan and was involved in a similar dance group there. The result came in 2005 in the form of Impulse Dance, a completely student-run performance dance organization that specializes in many styles of dance.
[girlgirl]“I started [Impulse Dance] because there wasn’t anything like this on campus,” Swartzloff said. “I was looking for something very specific to the style that I grew up with, and something that was for people who danced in high school and didn’t want to quit when they got to college. It turned into more than I imagined.”
There are several other dance groups on campus, and each one concentrates more or less on a specific type of dance. According to Swartzloff, Impulse Dance is more reminiscent of traditional studio dance, which is an easier transition for dancers who are just coming out of a routine in high school. Impulse performs many styles of dance to provide a variety both for the members and for the audience at their shows.
“Dancing has been a passion of mine since I first started when I was two-and-a-half years old and I never want to give it up. I decided to audition for Impulse because it has the styles of dance that I am used to,” human biology junior Elyssa Fielder said. “The most rewarding part of Impulse are the dynamics of the group. Every member is talented and brings their own style of dance to the group but we all still dance as a team.”
[fielder]The members of the group are as varied as the dance styles they practice. Members’ majors range from communications to finance and interior design since the group is primarily recreational. One essential thing they have in common is a sincere dedication to the art of dance. Unlike many of the other dance groups and clubs on campus, the members of Impulse Dance were chosen based on auditions held in the fall.
“I decided to do tryouts because I wanted people in the group to definitely take it seriously and definitely be committed,” Swartzloff said. “There is no set number of people for the audition. We didn’t want to limit ourselves that way. We just wanted to see what the talent was like.”
“We try to stress that [Impulse Dance] is a big commitment,” communication sophomore and Impulse Dance marketing leader Michelle Meier said. “We want people to take it seriously. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s a full commitment. When you say ‘club’ people assume that it’s all about leisure. With this you have to have the same discipline you’d put toward any other studio dance.”
One of the biggest challenges for Impulse Dance is finding financial support to put on all of their shows, as performance is an important part of the organization. Impulse Dance is one of more than 550 student organizations registered with ASMSU, and therefore receives some funding and is given a campus room to practice in each week. Putting on a performance involves a lot more money than ASMSU can supply, so the members of Impulse Dance must resort to other means. “It’s hard on such a huge campus to find personal support for this kind of thing. It’s nobody’s fault, but with a student body of 40,000 people, it’s really hard to pay a lot of attention to individual groups, especially when the group only has ten or twelve people in it,” Swartzloff said.
“It’s expensive to get a place to perform,” packaging junior and Impulse marketing leader Nancy Battaglini said. “You’ve got to get stage lighting and costumes and make sure there’s a sound system. It takes a lot to make a quality show.”
[group]The group holds fundraisers as often as possible, and applies for money when they can, whether it comes from family contributions or writing letters to potential supporters. Often, the members end of up paying for things out of their own pockets, such as costumes or group t-shirts, but Swartzloff is dedicated to keeping that to a minimum. “I want everyone to feel like they can be a part of Impulse Dance, so I don’t ask the girls to pay for things often,” Swartzloff said.
“I don’t know if people realize how expensive the world of dance is,” Meier said. “It’s a lot of work starting from scratch. You’ll get there eventually. People really came through last semester and responded to our letters. It’s just a matter of presenting ourselves. In high school, when you have a recital, lights come with the stage, but that’s not always the case when we have to find our own performance places.”
Though the group has the burden of finding funding on their own for their performances, they still keep themselves accessible to the public. At most of their performances, student tickets are free so that they can gain support in the form of audience members. “I’d much rather have people there than make money,” Swartzloff said.
Future performances include “LIVE!”, a dance battle put on by I-Cubed on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Fairchild Theatre. Impulse Dance’s Spring Showcase, featuring a dozen dances choreographed by the members, will be March 31 at Okemos High School. It is anticipated that student tickets will be free for the Spring Showcase.
“We dance for performing,” Meier said. “When you have an audience that’s active and loud it really feels good.”
Impulse Dance can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or for more information on performances, making a donation or auditions, visit www.msu.edu/~impulse1