As one of the outgoing presidents of Mac Dance, leaving the team after four years of dedication is going to be hard for Chimira Andres, but she knows it will be in good hands.

The Mac Dance team started as an amalgamation of all dance groups on campus. Now, there is a competitive team with 40 members and a recreational team with over 200 members.

The competitive team participates in weekly conditioning and technique classes to prepare for their three provincial dance competitions and their year-end showcase. Meanwhile, the recreational team — which includes jazz, ballroom, lyrical, hip-hop and acro among other styles — focuses on learning one main routine for a final showcase.

The club’s mission, written by Andres, states: “We hope to see any and all dancers who wish to have a space to dance no matter what level or style they call their own.”

While the competitive team has regular auditions to choose to perform in their three competitions throughout the year, the recreational team’s auditions are just for placement.

“You can start at any level that you want, but there is beginner, intermediate and advanced — which is not disclosed initially to make it more fun and inclusive,” said Andres. “Then the execs will separate the dancers according to their styles and levels.”

For Andres, coming into Mac Dance at the competitive level and watching the club grow over the past few years has been one of her biggest rewards.

The Mac Dance team started as an amalgamation of all dance groups on campus. There are now both a competitive team and a recreational team with an average of 40 people on each team.

“It’s nice to see it full circle,” said Andres. “As the president, it is so different playing a leadership role versus just being a member. You see things much differently.”

First taking up dance as a child as a form of childcare, Andres started off in ballet, like many others.

“My mom put my sister and I in it for childcare and we have been going to dance ever since,” said Andres. “And like most people, I started with ballet because it’s the foundation of all dance. Since then, I’ve done jazz and contemporary hip-hop, and I also went to an arts high school.”

Though able to perform several different styles, Andres is most passionate about her first love: ballet.

“Everything that you do in ballet speaks volumes,” Andres explained. “The amount of work and technique it requires shows through not your flexibility, but the strength behind it. If you can hold your leg in the air for 10 seconds, it requires a greater strength than just kicking it up there. This makes it athletic and graceful at the same time.”

That level of athleticism is what makes Andres take the “dance is a sport” side of the age-old debate. In terms of technique and training, she believes that dancers can have even more body awareness than some athletes. Though for Andres, she does recognize how the artistic element of dance makes it different from many other sports.

“If you look at the criteria of the word ‘sport’ I feel like dance falls into the category, but I think the artistry and the creative aspect adds a bit more,” said Andres. “For example, a lot of sports, for the most part, are very easy to judge. It’s a win or a lose, or either you score or you don’t. But for dancing, you can’t always see the win or the loss because it is so subjective.”

Although some still may not see dance as a sport, Mac Dance had the opportunity to perform at one of the biggest sporting events in Canadian university sports: the U Sports Vanier Cup.

“It was fun to be able to do something fun to start are season,” said Andres. “We were able to perform as one group all together and also do separate jazz and hip-hop performances.”

“If you look at the criteria of the word ‘sport’ I feel like dance falls into the category, but I think the artistry and the creative aspect adds a bit more.”


Chimira Andres
Mac Dance

One of Andres goals for the club during her time as president was to become more involved in the Hamilton community and the opportunity to dance at the Vanier Cup was just the beginning.

“We’ve been working with high school students and are really trying to get involved in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board,” Andres added.

As Andres prepares to graduate and leave Mac Dance behind her, these goals are part of a framework she hopes to leave behind with the club.

“I want to leave them with enough organization so that they feel more confident to follow up with the plans that they make,” said Andres.

Knowing first-hand how tough and stressful being a student can be, the Mac Dance president always turned to dancing to keep her grounded.

“I know how a much a safe haven Mac Dance was to me, so as I leave, I hope to leave them with guidance and for them to know that they can always reach out to me,” Andres said.

In the home stretch of the school year, Andres and the competitive team are preparing to take their last dance: a year-end showcase entitled All The Stars. The showcase will take place on April 7 and will feature both the contemporary and hip-hop teams.

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