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Student dancers auditioned for Penn’s dance companies last week. While some complained that auditions coinciding with the start of classes created extra stress, many enjoyed being able to join a group right at the start of the semester. Credit: , ,

In addition to starting their first college classes, getting to know their roommate and learning their way around Philadelphia, some freshmen began the year vying for spots on Penn’s dance teams.

Dance groups have already chosen their new dancers after auditions last week. The process of auditioning varies slightly from group to group, but between open auditions and callbacks, the full process can take up to five hours.

According to College junior Hannah Carron, hundreds come out to gain a coveted spot in one of Penn’s 10 most competitive dance companies but each group takes a handful of dancers per year.

Carron, the Soundworks Tap Factory director and a Quaker Girl, said that though dozens are not offered spots, “many times, companies will accept more dancers than planned because of the huge talent the group of auditionees brings.” Another deciding factor is how many seniors graduated the previous spring.

Auditions for some groups are highly competitive. Of the 96 dancers who auditioned for Onda Latina, only 10 were accepted, according to Nursing junior and Onda Vice President Natalie Rivera.

New Soundworks member and Nursing freshman Nora Casper said the audition process wasn’t too stressful, but she found it “a little daunting” that tryouts all happened in the same week.

College senior and Sparks Dance Company member Sara Farber explained that while many who audition get cut, “most of the girls that auditioned for Sparks also auditioned for numerous other groups, so they are very aware of all of the options at Penn,” she said.

Refering to auditions season as “one of my favorite times of the year,” Farber said that Sparks often sees dancers improve from auditions to callbacks as they feel more comfortable.

However, making time for auditions can be a challenge. “Because it was the first full week of classes, it was slightly overwhelming to try and get comfortable with my courses and the workload,” Casper said.

She suggested holding the auditions on a weekend in the future, but said she appreciated having them early in the school year. “It feels really good to have a group I can associate with early on,” she said.

New Sparks dancer and College freshman Jessica Warren also felt that since she was “still getting used to my life and schedule here,” the process was fairly intensive, though she is happy to already be dancing.

“I think getting involved with whatever clubs you plan to join is part of settling in,” she said, preferring to establish a set schedule early on rather than have to change it later to accommodate a new extracurricular. Warren is one of seven women to be offered a spot on Sparks of the 35 who auditioned.

“Being part of a group so early on helped me integrate into Penn’s community,” agreed Quaker Girl Catalina Arango, a Wharton freshman.

Penn Dance co-chairwoman and College senior Nathalie Baker called the audition process “very competitive.” Of the 20 dancers who auditioned for Penn Dance, five were accepted.

Baker said that though it is stressful for freshmen to audition in their first week of classes, their quick integration into a dance company will help them throughout their Penn career. “Dance at Penn is a great way to make such a big campus feel a little smaller and more like home,” she wrote in an e-mail.

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