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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
The Observer

Welsh Family Hall to host live-streamed annual DanceFest, send proceeds to Unity Gardens

With campus COVID restrictions recently loosened and the weather warming up, Welsh Family Hall aims to bring some festivities to campus with their signature event: DanceFest.

This year’s DanceFest will occur virtually March 12 and 13, from 7-8 p.m. each night. The showcase-style event will feature performances from different dance groups from around campus, sophomore Tess White, commissioner of the Special Events Committee in the Welsh Family Hall Council, said.

The featured groups this year are Pom Squad, TransPose, Troop ND, Dance Company of Notre Dame, Project Fresh and the Irish Dance Club. Each group will be performing three dances each in Washington Hall, but the audience will watch virtually via a livestream of the event. Tickets are available in the Student Shop for $3 per night.

The goal of DanceFest is twofold, White said, with the first prioritizing helping the community. To that end, all proceeds from the event will go to Unity Gardens, a non-profit network of community gardens located in and around South Bend. 

These gardens provide space and resources for community members to grow their own food and provide fresh fruits and vegetables to local people in need. Unity Gardens also hosts free cooking and gardening classes and kids’ summer camps to encourage healthy eating habits.

Junior Grace Quinn, DanceFest planning supervisor, said Welsh Family Hall has volunteered with Unity Gardens in the past and has seen firsthand the impact they have in the community.

They are an extraordinary group that has been serving the needs of South Bend for over a decade now,” Quinn said in an email. “I may not be exposed to the larger area, being in this Notre Dame bubble, but I know that our efforts and fundraising will really help those who frequent Unity Gardens.”

White echoed the sentiment of the “Notre Dame bubble,” and said the DanceFest will serve as a chance for students to reach out and make an impact within the local area.

“I think there are times on campus when you kind of forget about the general South Bend community,” White said. “So it’s nice to be able to do something that benefits them.”

The other goal of DanceFest is to highlight the Notre Dame students’ talents in the performing arts, White said, and provide a unique opportunity to see an underappreciated aspect of campus culture.

“We put so much focus on sports, but there is this whole other side of artistic talent that should be celebrated and enjoyed,” White said. “You’re going to see people you’re in classes with and get to see that they have a completely different side of themselves that you never knew.”

Quinn said the combination of incredible student performances and service to the great South Bend community is what makes DanceFest such an important event.

I hope that the virtual audience not only deepens their respect for the arts,” she said, “but also an appreciation for all those who are working to make South Bend a better place.”

Planning this year’s DanceFest has been a challenge amidst the constantly changing COVID restrictions, White said. Ultimately, she is excited that students are able to perform and the proceeds will be going to a good cause, and she said she hopes everyone will enjoy the weekend of festivities.

“Given all the restrictions that we have had, I’m excited to find things that we’re allowed to do and that people are allowed to be excited for,” White said.