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  • Brooke Austin, Staff Writer

Opinion: Inclusivity and community make Dance Co. stand out on campus

A Dance Co. performance. Photo by Anushka Srivastov.

For two days every semester, Willamette’s Dance Company puts on a roughly two-hour show for the school to enjoy. Hundreds of Willamette students, faculty and members of the Salem community file into Smith Auditorium to see their classmates, roommates and friends perform in over twenty different dances. These dances range from contemporary and hip hop to Bhangra and tap. The Dance Co. performance is one of the biggest Willamette events and this year won Best Club Event of the Year at Honors and Awards in Bearcat Excellence. The program itself has had its own journey throughout the years that has shaped it into becoming one of Willamette’s most popular clubs and most popular performances.

“I love Dance Co. so much. It’s literally my life, my soul, my everything,” said Dance Co’s Co-president Emma Honberger (‘24). “I love Dance Co. in all caps with sparkle emojis around it.” Honberger joined Dance Co. her sophomore year of college and immediately got as involved as possible. She finished her last performance this past April as the co-president, a choreographer and a dancer. 

“Everyone’s supportive, everyone’s loving. I think that’s my favorite part of it,” Harleen Brar (‘26) said. Brar is another choreographer and dancer in Dance Co. “I absolutely loved it,” Brooke Busby (‘27) agreed, having finished her first Dance Co. show this April. The amount of popularity and love Dance Co. has cultivated can almost be directly attributed to the inclusive and supportive environment.

Brar, who had no formal dance training previous to Dance Co., focuses on choreographing and dancing in cultural dances, namely Bollywood and Bhangra style dances. “Last semester, I choreographed Bollywood, and that was the first time Willamette has done Bollywood,” Brar explained. “It was nice to be able to show people what modern Bollywood is.” F0r Brar, Dance Co. is more than just a space for her to dance, it is a space for her to express her culture. She explained, “[The dancers] are actually passionate about it because it's their own culture.” 

“We want to do more cultural stuff. …. I want to bring something new,” Maggie Ramos (‘26) said. Ramos was involved in seven dances as either a dancer or a choreographer, one of which was an Afro-fusion dance. “I try my best to make a welcoming and supportive community.”

Both Busby and Honberger also honed in on Dance Co’s culture of community and support. “It's so amazing that they have, like, all different levels. … [The choreographers] make dances for everyone. So even if you have no dance experience at all, they make sure there's a dance for you,” Busby said. “I just feel like we're such a dance family,” Honberger said. 

Even though there are a multitude of reasons to love Dance Company, it seems that the reason this club is so popular, the reason it has over 150 members and the reason its performance is one of the biggest events of the year can be pinpointed to the incredible environment. “My favorite experiences are honestly just dancing with my friends because a lot of the friends that I have made at Willamette have been through Dance Company,” Honberger shared. “You learn a lot through it but it's not like it's not a competitive environment. It's just super fun and you get to meet a lot of friends.” Ramos agreed.

As for the upcoming semesters, Dance Co. is excited to incorporate more dances and members, continuing fantastic experiences throughout the rehearsals and shows. Dance Co. wants to emphasize that people of any dance experience are encouraged to join and participate in a dance, and, as always, everyone is welcome to scream and cheer as loud as they possibly can at the performances. Thus, the positive and uplifting energy Dance Co. brings to Willamette will continue for many years to come. 

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