The insider's guide to the Jerome Fisher Program at the University of Pennsylvania

Sparks Dance Company: Uniting Dance with Community Service

by Elise M., M&T Class of 2015 (pictured on right)

by Elise M., M&T Class of 2015 (pictured on right)

Seeing a dance go from a flicker of an idea to a full production with lights, music, and costumes is an incredible feeling. I have been dancing since kindergarten, spending countless hours after school in rehearsals.  However, the first time I ever choreographed was for Sparks Dance Company’s Fall 2012 show. I was hesitant to choreograph because it was so unfamiliar to me. But with encouragement from the other girls in Sparks, I decided to go for it. I choreographed my dance all summer; I would dance in my room, running into furniture constantly, and would envision choreography in my head during downtime at my summer internship. Throughout the semester, I taught my dance to the other girls then worked to clean and perfect it. It was exhilarating to finally perform my dance during our show and have people see what we had worked so hard on.

What drew me to Sparks at the beginning of my freshmen year was its dedication to both dance and community service. Founded with that mission, proceeds from our spring show every year are donated to a charity of our choice. Also, Sparks performs throughout the year at The Ronald McDonald House, Penn Rehab Center, Penn LIFE Center, and more. My favorite venues are nursing homes because after performing, we engage the residents in simple movement exercises and play songs from their youth. Their faces light up and they bop their heads along with the music while doing the exercises. Service has always been important to me, so I feel fortunate to be able to integrate it into my life in college.

Being part of Sparks has allowed me to continue doing things I love as well as pushed me out of my comfort zone to make me a better dancer. Going to dance rehearsal, where I am greeted by giggly chatter and get to release some endorphins, serves as a pick-me-up when I have been studying for a long time. Overall, Sparks Dance Company has been a crucial and wonderful part of my Penn experience.

Elise is a current M&T sophomore in the Class of 2015. She is majoring in Bioengineering within Penn Engineering and has yet to declare her concentration in the Wharton School. In addition, Elise sits on the M&T Club board as Vice President of the Social Committee.

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