Founded about a decade ago by a few URI students interested in continuing their dance education, the URI Dance Company is a Student Senate-funded organization that now has more than 70 members.
According to URI Dance Co. President Kristina DiMatteo of Narragansett, “Our club is all about including as many people as possible who enjoy dancing.” She said that several club members even joined without previous dance experience, and now meet twice a week for practice. “We hold classes in all forms of dance, at a full range of skill levels to encourage anyone to participate.”
Nancy Hawksley, URI recycling coordinator and volunteer staff advisor to the troupe, said that students have always been excited about being able to keep up with their dancing. “Many students come to college with strong dance backgrounds from years of training. They worked hard to attain a certain level of technical and artistic competence and the company gives them the opportunity to use it or lose it — and to teach their skills to others as well,” said Hawksley, who has been involved with the group since its inception.
One member of the company for the past two years, Kailyn McDuff of Pawtucket, echoes the sentiment shared by many members when she stresses the importance of the group in her overall University experience.
“I chose to join the dance company because I couldn’t imagine not dancing. The classes were so much fun once I got involved, I had no choice but to stay involved. I had been dancing for 14 years before college and was so glad to be able to continue dancing,” said McDuff. “Plus, having classes taught by other students makes them a lot of fun,” she added.
Megan Murasso of Andover, Conn., vice president of the group, said she also wanted to keep her dance shoes on for jazz. “I love to choreograph, to teach and to lead my peers in dancing,” she said. “The informal setting is a great stress-free place to teach and for first-time dancers to learn.”
In preparing for what she says is her “final dance performance ever,” DiMatteo reflected on her four-year membership in the company: “The reason I became involved is that I have danced since I was 3 years old. I wanted to still participate in college, but didn’t have the time to dedicate to dance team or practice intensively. That’s why this was so perfect. I was able to participate in something I loved, and didn’t have to give up a lot to do it — just a few hours a week and $20 per year for dues. Now as a senior, I have a lot of great memories and friends from this group.”
URI Dance Company takes a break after rehearsals. The troupe will hold its annual spring recital on Sunday, April 23, at 2 p.m. at Edwards Auditorium. Available at the door, tickets are $5 per person. URI News photo by Joe Giblin.