When Simran Kadam ’23 came to Carleton, she did not come with dance in mind.
“I grew up as a competitive danc- er for most of my life,” Kadam said. “While I considered dance a passion, I found it to be an all-consuming and often toxic environment. Coming to college, I hoped to change that experience.” Her freshman fall, Kadam’s search led her to an audition for Jazz and Contemporary Dance Company ( JCO).
JCO is a student-run dance company focused on practicing, rehearsing and performing Jazz and Contemporary dance styles. Members come from many different dance backgrounds including ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip- hop and more.
Now a JCO Director, Kadam hopes to expand the group that rekindled her love for dance.
“JCO is really about community,” Kadam said. “It’s a safe and welcoming space where people can bond over their shared love of dance and continue to learn and grow together. It’s truly been an incredible club to be a part of.”
Annika Stewart ’25, who has done ballet throughout her life, discovered JCO as a way to continue that passion in college.
”Even though I haven’t been a member of JCO for long, I can say that the dancers in JCO are some of the funniest and sweetest people I know at Carleton,” Stewart said. “I love being able to continue dancing and performing in college with people who are just as passionate about dance as I am.”
Elise Lehman ’23, JCO Director, also has loved the JCO community.
“When I came to Carleton, one of my top priorities was finding a dance group to join,” Lehman said. “Dance is also the way that I have met so many of my friends throughout my lifetime, so I saw JCO as a perfect opportunity to do all of these things. I look forward to Friday classes every week where we learn dance combinations or rehearse together as a group.”
In addition to honing their dancing skill, JCO offers opportunities for students to choreograph pieces and dance in front of an audience during Fall and Spring showcases.
“JCO also provides a great environment to try out choreographing if you’ve never had the chance to do it before or learn pieces choreographed by our own members to be performed in the shows,” Lehmann said. “One of my favorite memories of freshman year was performing in the JCO/EDB Fall showcase.”
Fellow JCO Director Mem Awad ’24 has found the group to be a special place on Carleton’s campus.
“JCO is all about having fun while doing something we all enjoy,” Awad said. “Everyone who comes to JCO truly wants to be there and that is what makes it so special.”
Despite the variety of challenges COVID-19 posed, JCO has been able to thrive.
“We had more auditionees, more new members and more audience attendees this past year than ever before,” Kadam said. “I’m grateful that more and more people are finding JCO and can’t wait to see the company continue to grow.”
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