Student Dance Groups Share Center Stage

Penn’s dance troupes are as diverse as the student population itself. From swing dancing to South Asian fusion, students come together on the stages and in performances spaces around the University to work toward collaborative creative visions.

This fall, several student groups— African Rhythms, Arts House Dance Company, PENNaach, Soundworks Tap Factory, West Philly Swingers, and Yalla—let us capture a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to launch a show before an audience.

West Philly Swingers Nick Cruickshank (top left), Malia Szyman (bottom left), Kanika Mohan (top right), and Joebert Rosal (bottom right) run through choreography during a rehearsal held at the Harnwell College House Dance Studio on Nov. 29. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn’s official swing dancing troupe and are both a social and performance group.

Kanika Mohan, along with her fellow West Philly Swingers, run through choreography during a rehearsal held at the Harnwell College House Dance Studio on Nov. 29. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn’s official swing dancing troupe and are both a social and performance group.

Jane Koshy along with other members of the PENNaach dance troupe, make their final preparations prior to their collaboration performance with African Rhythms, titled 'The Elements', held at the Iron Gate Theater on December 1. PENNaach, founded in 1997, is Penn's only all-female South Asian fusion dance troupe.

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Members of the PENNaach dance troupe huddle together for a group cheer prior to their collaboration performance with African Rhythms, “The Elements,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 1. PENNaach, founded in 1997, is Penn’s only all-female South Asian fusion dance troupe.

From left, Jasmine Raj, Jane Koshy, Jiana Koshy, and Katie Wasserstein, along with other members of the PENNaach dance troupe, perform for the crowd at their collaboration performance with African Rhythms, “The Elements', held at the Iron Gate Theatre on December 1. PENNaach, founded in 1997, is Penn's only all-female South Asian fusion dance troupe.

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Members of the African Rhythms dance troupe perform for the crowd at their collaboration performance with PENNaach, “The Elements,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 1. African Rhythms, founded in 1993 and affectionately known as “AR,” is an African drum and dance troupe and represents the strength and beauty of African culture.

Members of the West Philly Swingers dance troupe run through a dress rehearsal at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 7. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn’s official swing dancing troupe and are both a social and performance group.

A member of the West Philly Swingers dance troupe runs through a dress rehearsal at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 7. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn’s official swing dancing troupe and are both a social and performance group.

Members of the West Philly Swingers dance troupe make their final preparations prior to their collaboration performance with Soundworks, “Battle of the Bands,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 8. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn’s official swing dancing troupe and are both a social and performance group.

Member of the West Philly Swingers dance troupe Nick Cruickshank performs a quick ironing job on one his shirts prior to their collaboration performance with Soundworks, “Battle of the Bands,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 8. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn's official swing dancing troupe and is both a social and performance group.

Pallavi Menon (left), along with other members of the PENNaach dance troupe, run through a rehearsal at the Harnwell College House Dance Studio on Oct. 16. PENNaach, founded in 1997, is Penn’s only all-female South Asian fusion dance troupe.

Chetan Parthiban (middle) leads members of the West Philly Swingers dance troupe and Soundworks Tap Factory in a group cheer prior to their collaboration performance of “Battle of the Bands,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 8. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn’s official swing dancing troupe and are both a social and performance group.

The PENNaach dance troupe runs through a rehearsal at the Harnwell College House Dance Studio on Oct. 16. PENNaach, founded in 1997, is Penn’s only all-female South Asian fusion dance troupe.

Members of the West Philly Swingers dance troupe Kevin Adu (front left), Malia Szyman (front right), Madeline Dahlin, and William Ho (back right) perform for the crowd during their collaboration show with Soundworks Tap Factory, “Battle of the Bands,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 7. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn’s official swing dancing troupe and are both a social and performance group.

Members of the West Philly Swingers dance troupe perform for the crowd during their collaboration show with Soundworks Tap Factory, “Battle of the Bands,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Dec. 7. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn’s official swing dancing troupe and are both a social and performance group.

From left, members of Arts House Dance Company Liz Reckart, Sara Sachs, Haley Pisciotta, Merry Gu, and Margo Buck make the final preparations to hair, makeup, and wardrobe prior to their performance of “Dreammzzz” at the Iron Gate Theatre on Nov. 10. Founded in 1985, Arts House primarily performs jazz, contemporary, ballet, tap, and hip-hop, but members come from diverse training backgrounds.

Members of Arts House Dance Company make the final preparations to hair, makeup, and wardrobe prior to their performance of “Dreammzzz,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Nov. 10. Founded in 1985, Arts House primarily performs jazz, contemporary, ballet, tap, and hip-hop, but members come from diverse training backgrounds.

The Arts House Dance Company performs for the crowd during “Dreammzzz,” held at the Iron Gate Theatre on Nov. 10. Founded in 1985, Arts House primarily performs jazz, contemporary, ballet, tap, and hip-hop, but members come from diverse training backgrounds.

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Destiny Bingham of the Yalla dance troupe performs for the audience gathered at the Platt Student Performing Art House’s Muravchick Cabaret Stage on Oct. 26. Yalla, which began in 2004, is Penn’s premiere Middle Eastern dance and drum troupe.

Ngozi Efuru (left), a member of the African Rhythms dance troupe, and Afro-Cuban instructor Ama Schley (right) run though a rehearsal held at the Emily Sachs Rehearsal Room in the Irvine Auditorium Room on Oct. 16. African Rhythms, founded in 1993 and affectionately known as “AR,” is an African drum and dance troupe and represents the strength and beauty of African culture.

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Homepage photo: Members of the West Philly Swingers dance troupe perform for the crowd during their collaboration show with Soundworks Tap Factory, titled 'Battle of the Bands', held at the Iron Gate Theater on December 7. The Swingers, which began in 1999, are Penn's official swing dancing troupe and is both a social and performance group.

Photo at top: Jasmine Raj (middle), along with other members of the PENNaach dance troupe, run through a rehearsal session held at the Harnwell College House Dance Studio on October 16. PENNaach, founded in 1997, is Penn's only all-female South Asian fusion dance troupe.

  • Text by Heather Davis
  • Photos by Eric Sucar