To say the Impact Dance company is selective is an understatement. This season the student performance group has only 11 members, including five newcomers and just three dance majors, although their rigorous, night-long auditions typically draw hundreds of hopefuls.

For those who made the cut, the time to shine has come with this weekend’s two performances of the group’s biggest show. ComCo Improv Troupe and Glee Club spin-off The Friars will join Impact onstage at the Mendelssohn Theatre tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.

In fall 2003, Kinesiology senior Taylor Scharf was the group’s only new member. Four years later, she’s finishing off her second season as the group’s co-chair. A Florida native, Scharf studied dance at The Edge in Los Angeles and the Broadway Dance Center and Steps in New York City and spent a summer with the Chautauqua Ballet Company.

Such intensive prior training is standard for Impact company members. Most of the girls are trained in ballet, jazz and modern dance and many have also danced with competitive companies.

But even beautiful triple pirouettes, gorgeous leaps and polished form might not be enough to secure you a spot in the company.

“We are looking for girls who can really perform,” Scarf said. “People may not notice if your toe is perfectly pointed, but they will notice if you’re smiling. You have to be able to sell it.”

Impact uses a broad range of different dance styles to keep their show fun and accessible, blending modern, lyrical and jazz dance. The group stays away from the more esoteric modern dance technique characteristic of the University’s top-notch Dance department.

“We have a couple of more serious modern pieces, but we also perform numbers that are more high energy, sultry and sexy,” Scharf said.

Music from artists like Christina Aguilara, Jack Johnson and Los Lonely Boys gives their performances a modern flavor and, in addition to the range of solos, duets and trios that highlight individual talent, each member has an opportunity to choreograph their own piece.

Scharf understands its position as a dance outlet at the University, given the only classes officially open to non-dance majors are for beginners – courses which obviously don’t meet the needs of people like Impact’s members, experienced dancers who have simply not chosen it for an undergraduate career. Given that even Impact Dance only accepts a small number of students each year, many dance lovers can feel excluded from the dance community.

“You have to be proactive,” Scharf said. “There are many dance groups on campus, but you have to seek them out. Everyone who wants to dance during college can and should be able to do so.”

So what makes Impact stand out from other dance groups on campus? It’s the only dance group backed by University Activities Center, whose funding allows Impact to accent its performances with costumes, sets and other aesthetic perks typically not available to other troupes. Scharf has no illusions about how University money has helped her group: “The money makes it possible to do what we want artistically without financial constraints.”

With an interspersed program of comedy and song, Impact’s upcoming show promises more of a variety show feel than a straightforward dance performance, while their talent and broad range of style will satisfy any dance aficionado.

Impact Dance

Tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.
At the Mendelssohn Theatre


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