Claremont really got jiggy with it this weekend as part of the annual Claremont Dance Exchange, formerly known as Claremont Dance Festival. This event, hosted by the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company (CCBDC), featured a weekend of dance workshops, social mixers and even a flash mob. Workshops in standard, Latin, smooth, rhythm, salsa and West Coast swing, taught by world-renowned professional dancers, were offered in Edmunds Ballroom and the Platt Campus Center for both students and the general public.
“The Claremont Dance Exchange has been put on annually for a number of years,” said Kelsey Frost SC ’13, president of the CCBDC. “This year, though, we decided to make it bigger than ever. We host this weekend event as a way for CCBDC members, members of the Claremont community and members of the greater collegiate community to come together and connect through ballroom dance. This is an amazing opportunity for students and community members to get to know other student dancers, share their experiences and work with a level of professionals that they couldn’t afford in a smaller context.”
The director of the CCBDC, Paul Roach, collaborated with Shawn Fisher, the director of Brigham Young University-Idaho’s ballroom dance program, to bring in top-level professional dancers at discounted rates for students. There was a high turnout for the events this year, with some participants visiting from areas as far as Utah. Just for the workshops, there were over 60 Claremont students, 18 Utah State University students, 6 BYU-Idaho students and a handful of students from Caltech and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in attendance. Even more students came to the two evening dance parties.
“I loved being able to see this weekend from the very beginning stages of planning all the way to the end result, which was bigger and greater than I had imagined,” Frost said. “The workshops were absolutely amazing, it was great to meet dancers from other colleges and parts of the U.S., and collaborating with Pomona’s 125th anniversary to put on the flash mob and performances was a great honor.”
The entire weekend culminated in a flash mob that took place on Marston Quadrangle during Pomona College’s 125th Founders Day celebration. At 5 p.m. Sunday, unsuspecting students, faculty members and visitors from the nearby community watched as more than 200 students, including the members of the CCBDC, burst onto the grassy field in their bright yellow shirts, galloping to the beat of Psy’s hit “Gangnam Style.”
Originating with a small group of two students who boldly busted the first moves, the mob quickly grew to take over much of the quad. Amidst the inflatable bouncy castles, colorful carousel and stands stocked with kettle corn, students emanated energy while riding imaginary horses to the catchy tune. Even uninvolved onlookers could not help but bob their heads as they watched students shamelessly flaunt their humorous, meticulously choreographed dance moves. As soon as the song was over, everyone calmly resumed their Founders Day festivities.
Although the flash mob itself lasted less than five minutes, there was a lot more planning and practice required to put on a dance of such magnitude.
“The Claremont Ballroom Dance Company and our instructor, Paul Roach, basically did all the planning and would teach us the routine in class,” said Kenneth Chang PZ ’13, who participated in the flash mob as a beginning social dance student. “We were assigned our spots only a few days ago and rehearsed once last night. My favorite part was just being able to have fun working with such a high-energy group.”
Bystander Alix Girard PO ’16 was surprised when “all these people with yellow shirts just popped out of nowhere,” he said. “And then immediately after the song ended, they were gone. It was like magic.”