On Sunday afternoons, the dancers of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Vis Viva Dance Company gather not only to rehearse but to strengthen friendships that have blossomed into a family.
Consisting of nearly fifty members, the company brings together dancers of all majors, styles of dance, and years of experience. From computer engineers to art majors and everything in between, some members are learning to dance for the first time, and some are continuing with a passion they thought would end once they left high school.
The members of the company spend so many hours together that the lines between acquaintances and sisters start to blur. “I honestly think it is hard to choose between my love of dance and my love of my friends” says Alex Wright, Vis Viva Alum. On average, we spend four hours a week together in the studio and at least the same amount of time outside of the studio. “I think since we all share a love for dance, we can spend time with each other whether we are dancing or not, the hours spent dancing together have brought us together and allowed us to get to know each other very well; enough to then want to do things outside of dance together” said Carly Hewitt, member and former treasurer of Vis Viva.
Corn mazes, study dates, venting sessions, coffee runs, hockey games, and So You Think You Can Dance marathons don’t even begin to list the memories we’ve made together. Kristen Hennessey, one of the founders of Vis Viva Dance Company, notes that “We all have grown together as dancers and people and are there for each other through all of life’s events.” We try to support each other at any extra events we are a part of; if someone is choreographing a separate show, being featured in a collaboration of artists, or playing club hockey, you can bet we’ll be there in the audience.
Spending all of this time together and developing our relationships makes us even stronger in our performances. You can truly see the bond we share when we’re on stage because we trust each other and we know exactly how everyone is going to move before they do. We are a single unit onstage; we all get our moments to shine but we come together and dance as one entity moving together.
We are confidants, therapists, and cheerleaders for one another, celebrating the accomplishments and supporting each other through the disappointments life throws our way. “I could escape all the other responsibilities I had and act like we had no cares in the world when I was at dance practice. They loved me because I was me. That is a beautiful thing to have in a team” said Alex Wright.
At the end of a long week, seeing these girls makes the hard things not seem so monumental. Reflecting on her time in Vis Viva, Carly Hewitt says, “The laughs are endless, the dances have been many, and the memories and friends I’ve made will last a lifetime. I’m very thankful for Vis Viva”.