Arts & Culture

Moving together again

LROD leads Latinx Movement class.

Photos by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

3 min read

‘Joy, inspiration, relief’ as Dance Center reopens studios

The Dance Center reopened this fall with a mix of in-person and hybrid classes in styles ranging from ballet to soca. After a year of dancing at home in front of screens, many students are celebrating the return to the studio.

Among them was Akarsh Raghunath, a Ph.D. student from New Delhi, who jumped at the chance to learn bharatanatyam, a form of Indian classical dance, in person. “The beats of the music, movement of the body, and consciousness of space, along with the discerning eye of the teacher, cannot be best experienced online,” Raghunath said. “Dance is a community experience.”

Reaction to the studios reopening has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Elizabeth Epsen, communications and programs coordinator of the Dance Center.

“The Dance Center is a home for so many,” Epsen said. “And after a year of dancing in our living rooms, kitchens, dorm rooms, tennis courts, parks, and Harvard lawns, to be able to dance and move together in these specialized spaces for dance has been a great source of joy, inspiration, and relief.”

Laura Rodriguez (left) and Athena Capo-Battaglia '23 demonstrate a dance sequence in Farkas Hall.
Evelyn Manyatta '22 speaks during Latinx Movement class.

“Latinx Movement” instructor LROD (left), interim head of dance for Theater, Dance & Media, demonstrated a sequence with Athena Capo-Battaglia ’23. Evelyn Manyatta ’22 spoke during the class in Farkas Hall. “‘Latinx Movement’ has been more than rewarding and has been such a safe space for me. I feel so refreshed, confident, and amazing after each class,” said Manyatta, an economics concentrator. “After taking this dance course, I definitely want to take more.”

Liliana Price ’25 (from left), Jane Li ’22, and Margaret Cote ’22 warm up.
Liliana Price ’25 (from left), Jane Li ’22, and Margaret Cote ’22 warmed up.
Evelyn Manyatta '22 (left) and Djibril Rushingabigwi '22 dance in Farkas Hall.
A detail of hands connecting during dance.

Dancers moved in pairs, including Manyatta (left) and Djibril Rushingabigwi ’22.

Jasper Schoff '22 (left) and Jane Li '22 dance in Farkas Hall.
Jasper Schoff ’22 (left) and Li spun to the music.
The Soca Fusion class, including Maetal Haas-Kogan '19 and graduate student at HMS (from left), Rui Sun, Yenching Fellow, Makeda Wallace, Mitali Bafna, GSAS '22, and Bezaye Teshome, HMS '22, meets in Studio 1 at Harvard Dance Center.
Dancers waved their flags in “Soca Fusion” class. Pictured are Medical School student Maetal Haas-Kogan ’19 (from left); Rui Sun, a visiting fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Institute; teaching artist Makeda Wallace; Ph.D. student Mitali Bafna; and Medical School student Bezaye Teshome.
The class, broadcast virtually to students at home.
The hybrid class broadcasted from the studio to remote students.
Rui Sun stretches during warm up time in Soca Fusion class.
Makeda Wallace stretches during Soca Fusion class.

Sun and Wallace stretched.

Rui Sun dances during Soca Fusion class.
Haas-Kogan (from left), Sun, Wallace, and Teshome danced in union.
Teaching Artist Joh Camara teaches West African Dance.
Teaching artist Joh Camara led “West African Dance.”
Prince Jenkins dances during West African dance class.
Riya Kapoor dances during West African dance class.

Prince Jenkins, a student at Harvard Divinity School, and Riya Kapoor ’24 practiced moves.

Teaching Artist Sunanda Narayanan teaches Bharatnatayam class.
Sunanda Narayanan (center) taught “Bharatanatyam.” Students included Akarsh Raghunath (from left), a Ph.D. student in the Department of History of Art and Architecture, and Samantha Jones, a doctoral candidate in music.
Samantha Jones dances during Bharatnatayam class.
Akarsh Raghunath dances during Bharatnatayam class.

Jones and Raghunath learned bharatanatyam hand gestures.

Dancers Imani Deal (from left), Toni Singleton, Jenny Oliver, Patricka James are pictured during rehearsal.
Artist-in-residence Nailah Randall-Bellinger (not pictured) led a rehearsal for an upcoming performance with professional dancers Imani Deal (from left), Toni Singleton, Jenny Oliver, and Patricka James.
Dancers Jenny Oliver (from left), Imani Deal, Patricka James, and Toni Singleton are pictured during rehearsal.
Artist in Residence Nailah Randall-Bellinger (pictured) rehearses with dancers in Studio 2 at Harvard Dance Center.

Randall-Bellinger (seated) instructed the choreography.

Dancer Jenny Oliver is pictured during rehearsal.
Dancers Patricka James (from left), Jenny Oliver, Toni Singleton, and Imani Deal are pictured during rehearsal.
Toni Singleton (from left), Nailah Randall-Bellinger, Imani Deal, Patricka James, and Jeryl Pilapil-Brown are pictured during rehearsal.