Three years after the pandemic dashed students’ dreams to dance abroad in The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the festival is back on its feet, and the Union Dance Program is eagerly preparing to take part.
Twelve dancers and one student stage manager will set out for Scotland Aug. 1, returning Aug. 13. They will give four performances.
“I hold this project very close to my heart. It is an amazing learning opportunity for our dance students and offers tremendous exposure for the College,” said Assistant Director of Dance Laurie Zabele Cawley, who is coordinating the trip. She and Megan Flynn, the Gustave L. Davis ’59 and Susan S. Davis Director of Dance, will accompany the Union group.
“After all this time, we’re ecstatic to make this a reality,” Cawley said. "It truly has taken a village to arrive here."
Union dancers were accepted into the Fringe as part of the International Collegiate Theatre Festival in February 2020. Covid hit just weeks afterward, the College shut down, and The Fringe was canceled.
The world-renowned festival typically attracts more than 3.5 million people each year.
“It’s very exciting that our students will present their work internationally and be exposed to artists and cultures from around the globe,” said Flynn.
While Cawley and Flynn are looking forward to seeing their students make their mark on the international stage, the dancers themselves couldn’t be more excited. They began rehearsing their pieces this term and will continue working on them throughout the spring. Many of the pieces will be presented at this year’s Winter Dance Concert at the Yulman Theater March 1-4.
“The Fringe Festival will immerse us in an environment where everyone is coming from a different background, and we will have the chance to see how those backgrounds shape others' performances,” said Grace Newcombe ’25.
Alexandra Nicolaus sees the Edinburgh experience as one that “is going to inspire me to explore new ways of expressing myself,” while Sage Stinson ’25 hopes “to be able to absorb the beauty of other art forms from across the world.”
Other participating dancers include Rachel Bryan ’24, Maia Carty ’24, Elizabeth-Veronica (Eva) Crowley ’24, Sarah Dames ’24, Melanie De La Cruz ’26, Adriana Lawton ’24, Lydia Singer ’24, Jennifer Vil ’26 and Anna Zusi ’26.
Stage manager is Claire Knecht ’26, a longtime dancer who stepped away from performing a few years ago but remains passionate about it.
“This trip is giving me the opportunity to be a part of the dance world again, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it,” said Knecht, who is currently taking the theater course, Stage Management for Live Performance.
The Scotland-bound students will return to campus in July to rehearse briefly before embarking on their travels. In addition to dancing at the festival, they will attend performances, workshops and dance classes, and tour historical and cultural sites.
“Our dancers will have the opportunity to reflect on who they are as individuals and growing artists while collaborating within a larger community,” Cawley said. “Our hope is for them to see the arts as a powerful tool to unite us beyond our personal and geographical borders.”