Ready, set... Union dancers go to Edinburgh Fringe

Publication Date

There’s movement afoot in the Henle Dance Pavilion this summer as students prepare to participate in The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Twelve dancers and one student stage manager will set out for Scotland Aug. 1, returning Aug. 13. They will give four performances of “At the Intersection” Aug. 5-6 and Aug. 8-9 in Edinburgh Central Auditorium.

The Scotland-bound students spent the past two academic terms working on their pieces, many of which were performed at the Winter Dance Concert. They continue to train individually this summer and will be back on campus July 28, with rehearsals July 29-31 in the Henle Dance Studio.

Dancer practice their moves in the Henle Dance Studio

Members of the Union community are invited to attend the final dress rehearsal July 31 at 4 p.m.

“Our ensemble members have spent over 150 hours in embodied dance research this past academic year in preparation for their Edinburgh performances,” 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.

“At the Intersection” features original dance works “that speak to our multiple intersecting identities, interests, dreams and desires,” the ensemble’s promotional poster reads. “Dance as a driver for change, connection and community.”

Coming three years after summer 2020’s originally scheduled festival date, the Scotland trip represents a first for Union’s dance program. Union was selected to participate in the Fringe in early 2019 and had been preparing for more than a year to perform when Covid hit, shutting down the College and canceling most, if not all, public performances.

“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. “After all this time, we are ready.”

The world-renowned festival typically attracts more than 3.5 million people each year.

“I never expected such a wonderful opportunity to be presented my first year of college,” said Melanie De La Cruz ’26, who is majoring in theater and political science, with a dance minor.

“I hope to learn from other artists, and also see their perspective on the arts and implement it in my studies. I love art, and I love this ensemble. I can’t wait to live this experience and see how it impacts my years at Union and beyond.”

Grace Newcombe ’25 is equally impressed with the chance to dance on a global stage.

“I never thought I would be able to travel to another country with my fellow dancers, let alone perform with them there,” said Newcombe, a mathematics major with minors in Spanish and dance.

“I have always wanted to perform in a touring company. The fact that I am able to do this at Union with such an amazing group of people makes my college experience so much more amazing than it’s already been.”

Jennifer Vil ’26, a pre-med student majoring in Spanish and Latin American and Caribbean studies, said the Fringe project has opened up her artistic side.

“It has encouraged me to keep pursuing dance and become more confident in the art form. I also want to explore more of a liberal arts path in addition to my STEM-based career plan,” Vil said.

Sarah Dames ’24 is interdepartmental major in sociology and mathematics with minors in dance and data analytics. She is thrilled to “share my passion for dance and performance with my Union peers, outside friends and family as we gear up for this adventure. The Union community has really come together to make this possible.”

Other participating dancers include Rachel Bryan ’24, Maia Carty ’24, Elizabeth-Veronica (Eva) Crowley ’24, Adriana Lawton ’24, Alexandra Nicolaus ’24, Lydia Singer ’24, Sage Stinson ’25 and Anna Zusi ’26. Stage manager is Claire Knecht ’26.

Emily Armlin ’23 will meet up with the group as a newly minted alumna. Though she won’t be performing, she’s looking forward to watching the ensemble perform and seeing her choreography come alive on the Scottish stage.

“It has been amazing working together throughout the year and seeing this show grow to be what it is today,” Armlin said. “Having been a part of this process as a senior and having my choreography brought to the Fringe Festival by this incredible cast means so much to me.”

In addition to presenting their work, the ensemble members will attend performances, workshops and dance classes, and tour historical and cultural sites.

Cawley thanks all who have helped bring the dancers to this point. This includes the Department of Theater and Dance and its arts programs coordinator, Victoria Rotondi; and the offices of Academic Affairs, College Relations, and Academic Planning and Operations. In addition, a special thanks goes to the Davis '59 family and the more than 50 donors who helped to make this opportunity a reality.

“This extraordinary experience would not be possible without the outstanding support from Union College and the collaborative effort from multiple departments across campus she said. “This is a liberal arts education at its very best.”

Grace Newcomb '25 shares her excitement for the trip