For the aspiring thespians and musicians of this freshman class, Colonial Inauguration is more than just an opportunity to meet new people – it’s a chance to scope out the hottest performing arts groups to join. There are dozens of options for prospective actors, singers, comedians and arts lovers of all types, and these groups are all eager for new talent. (For a complete director of student organizations, visit http://studentorgs.gwu.edu/directoryofstudentorganizations.)
A cappella troupes are a major part of the GW vocal scene, with eight widely different and highly involved groups. The Troubadours, a co-ed group that has previously performed for former Vice President Al Gore, is looking for enthusiastic freshmen for their fall auditions.
“We are looking to liven up out concerts next year with a bunch of new arrangements of current songs by artists like Kelly Clarkson and John Legend,” said Zack Colonna, the group’s business director.
The GW Pitches, an all-female a cappella group, showcases their work in two large concerts each semester. President Arin Liberman said the group is very supportive of its members.
“I think that every semester is a challenge for our director and ourselves to bring out the best in everyone and just enjoy the time we spend together,” she said. “It’s a blast.”
Emocapella, an all-male rock a cappella group, has garnered quite a fan base on campus, and has even been written up in Spin and Entertainment Weekly magazines. They perform songs by artists such as Taking Back Sunday, the Juliana Theory and Brand New.
“The details are top secret, but this year we are looking into a possible performance on VH1,” said member Elliot Gillerman. “We’re also hoping to record our second album, tour in the spring and continue to rock the kids hard.”
For those with a flair for the dramatic, there are a number of different theater communities to join. The Generic Theatre Company is one of GW’s oldest and largest theater groups, performing six shows a year. The group has already decided on some productions for its fall lineup, which will include the musical “Once on this Island” and the play “Metamorphoses,” in addition to the company’s annual freshman showcase.
“The freshman showcase is a great opportunity for all of the incoming freshman to get their names out there,” said Cara Chute, Generic’s public relations director. The showcase features short plays directed by upperclassmen, but cast and stage-managed entirely by freshmen.”
A newer theater group is the 14th Grade Players, which aims to perform eight shows next year. The group performed its first-ever musical, “Working,” last year and was excited to include a live turtle as a prop in the performance of “Arcadia.”
“A large percentage of our active members are not theater majors and, therefore, our members come from a variety of backgrounds,” said Shani Cohen, executive producer. “Each member brings a unique aspect to a show, whether it be on stage or helping out in the crew.”
For students who were voted the class clown in high school, one of GW’s comedy troupes might be a good fit. There are two groups, Recess and Capitol G.O.G.A., which elicit laughs with their sketch comedy and improvisations.
Capitol G.O.G.A., which stands for girl-on-girl action, is a small female group that is actively recruiting new members.
“We specialize in short scenes thought up on the spot that are connected in a series,” member Julia Knowles said. “We also play small games almost like the ones you see on (the ABC show) ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway?’ We like to involve the audience and try to keep everything as funny as we can make it.”
Recess is a small troupe that performs live shows monthly and, as of recently, makes regular appearances on GWTV.
“Perhaps the biggest accomplishment in Recess history was getting kicked out of CI for showing an obscene video,” said member Emily Axford, who added that the group will be busy next year.
“We plan to collaborate with other groups so as to inspire a campus-wide intellectual and creative exchange,” said Axford, “but only if we have funds left after we buy Segways for everyone in the group.”
For dancers, there is a group to suit any style from tap to ballet to hip-hop. GW Ballroom Dance Society is a group for competitive dancers as well as anyone who just wants to learn some steps. The group competes against other colleges, but also hosts socials and lessons for dancers of any level. Those with two left feet need not fear – treasurer Matt Meyer said the group is extremely beginner-friendly.
“Most of our members have had no prior dance experience and knew nothing about rhythm or finding a beat when they first started,” Meyer said. “Ballroom is a great way to make friends at GW while learning a life skill.”
Balance, the GW ballet club and one of the newest performance organizations, surely has become the University’s darling this year. Their utilization of the Mount Vernon Campus for performances earned them praise from University officials and the Spotlight of the Month award after a performance of Act Two of the “Nutcracker” at the Hand Chapel. The group aims to offer affordable ballet classes and opportunities for ballet performance and choreography.
Co-founder Oliver Truong said that one of the group’s missions is to foster a ballet community on campus and will organize trips to see performances.
Various ethnic dance troupes also comprise a large part of the GW arts community. The best known of these is GW Bhangra, which hosts Bhangra Blowout, an annual competition of traditional Punjabi dance that is always well-attended. Bhangra aims to promote Indian culture and educate others about the dance.
“Our biggest accomplishment has been how we have spread knowledge about Bhangra throughout the campus,” said member Beant Gill. “We have never before performed at non-Indian functions, so our performances at the basketball game against Richmond and the Inaugural Ball boosted our support amongst all sorts of people.”
GW Chamak is an all-female South Asian dance troupe, which is only three years old. It too is dedicated to preserving ancient dance forms, and has plans for travel and competitions.
GW’s all-female Persian dance group, Aatash, has blended its style of Middle East dance with hip-hop for an interesting collaboration that represents modern-day Iranian dance. Founder and president Sahar Dawn Nowrouzzadeh said the group will perform at the Persian Parade in New York City for the second time in a row.
“International channels have even featured Aatash performances on their channels,” Nowrouzzadeh said.
Capital Funk is a group for GW’s hip-hop dancers, which is proud to compete at the Culture Shock East Coast Competition. Member Tiffani Wesley said the group aspires to win the competition this year.
She said, “If you know how to dance and you want to learn the basics of break dancing, popping, or locking, Capital Funk is a great venue.”
One of the latest additions to the GW arts community is the film aficionado club, Kino Fist. Dedicated to exposing students to independent and obscure films, the group holds weekly screenings of films such as “Hiroshima, Mon Amour” and “Vampiros Lesbos.” The club, led by Jason Mogavero, a Hatchet arts writer, will have screenings of films from all over the world next year, and members can join merely by adding themselves to the Kino Fist Facebook group.