English major and junior Jennifer Luo was a national competitive figure skater before she came to Williams. As a kid growing up in Denver, Colorado, figure skating was her entire life.
That is why, she says, “my friends and family might find it surprising now to learn just how much I dance in college.”
Jennifer took a beginner ballet class during her first year at Williams, in part to fulfill the physical education requirement, but also because she was curious about dance. She credits that class as starting it all. “I fell in love with dance,” she says. “I could channel my passion for figure skating into a new form that was very different and challenging. I had to learn to move and to understand my body in a totally new way.” But what she appreciated more than anything was the community she found.
“It sounds really cheesy but it’s absolutely true,” Jennifer says. “At first I wasn’t that attached to Williams—until I found the CoDa community. It has made a world of difference to my Williams experience.”
CoDa is the Contemporary Dance Ensemble at Williams. Founded in 2010, CoDa integrates the foundational techniques of modern dance and ballet with contemporary and popular forms of movement, music, and multimedia. Artist-in Residence Erica Dankmeyer ’91, a former soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company, directs CoDa. “We foster creative projects by both student choreographers and faculty artists,” she says, “and celebrate experimentation and invention.”
First-year student Cecilia Denhard says of the CoDa community, “I feel so lucky to dance with such wonderful people! Dance is a collective journey — we laugh together and encourage each other through accomplishments and frustrations. I know that I’ve found a group of peers and mentors who will continue to challenge, support, and inspire me at Williams.”