Dancing the Night Away: Performing Arts Department Celebrates With Formal

By Grace Cardinal,  Asst. News Editor

Back for a fourth year, Manhattan College’s Performing Arts students celebrated their hard work with a formal on Saturday, March 25. On that day students from all corners of the performing arts program came together to dance and have fun.

Each year, the formal is open to all students who are a part of the many different performing arts groups at MC. According to Sharon Ortega, assistant director of Student Engagement, the event is a way for students in the department to celebrate their successes and relax before the end-of-year chaos hits.

“This event is an evening for all performing arts students to come together to celebrate their efforts, hard work and also provides a great, relaxed environment before the end of year performances which is a very busy time for the department,” Ortega wrote in an email to The Quadrangle.

Andrew Bauer, director of performing arts, created the idea for a performing art formal in 2018. His goal was to create an event that allowed the close to 350 students, a number that rivals that of the whole athletics department, across the performing arts to have an opportunity to connect and socialize with others they normally wouldn’t come across. 

“It really was just an idea that I had back then, to have a night where all of the performing arts groups could socialize and get together and celebrate what we do here on campus, which is to promote the arts in various forms,” said Bauer. “We have jazz band, we have the orchestra, we have Singers, we have Players, we have all these groups, and we don’t necessarily get the opportunity to interact with each other socially, because we’re all rehearsing our things separately. Because we are of common mind and artistic nature, I thought it would be great to get all the groups together to fraternize and celebrate the family of performing arts.”

Senior performing arts student Richard Divirgilio said the most fun part of the event was the unique opportunity to mingle with students outside of his own performing arts groups. 

“I think it was just seeing everyone in a space that was non rehearsal related. I don’t think I spend enough time with people that I do performing arts with outside of rehearsal spaces,” said Divirgilio. “And so I’m glad that I at least had that opportunity because it’s something different from what you normally see, that was probably the most fun part for me.”

Planning for the formal usually starts around the middle of the fall semester. Jenna Leonard, senior and performing arts department student worker, explained that with so many students across the many different performing arts groups, it can be challenging to find a time for the event that avoids all rehearsals. 

“The planning for the event has been ongoing over the past two months,”  Leonard wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “Generally, I took on a sort of leadership role in organizing meetings, corresponding with Student Engagement, placing orders, and overseeing the other aspects of planning. I’d say the most challenging part was finding a date that would work for all performing arts groups along with a location for the event. The entire department constantly has events and rehearsals going on and we wanted to be sure to avoid double-booking for any group so that everyone could come.”

Traditionally, the formal is catered by a local restaurant. Since the event’s creation in 2018, students have continuously added new elements to keep the formal fun, interesting and a little different each spring. 

“This year’s formal will have catering from Goodfellas with different pasta, salads, and other dishes in addition to desserts,” Leonard wrote. “Students will be able to dine and dance and take photos. Something new that we have never done before is having the music for the event brought to us by the school radio station, WRCM. We are extremely excited that they decided to join us to provide music for the students, by the students!”

Sophomore performing arts student Billy Walker said he loved the new addition of WRCM to the formal and preferred their music over the hired DJ’s from years past. 

 “I had a great time…we had WRCM and they played the bangers. So I actually had a great time listening to the music and the food was really good because it was from Goodfellas,” said Walker. 

Along with the new change of WRCM performing, the performing arts students danced the night away in the Higgins atrium. Years prior, the formal took place in Smith Auditorium and in Kelly Commons. Ortega wrote that the performing arts students were excited to be celebrating in a new venue. 

“This year, the students are very excited to host the formal in the beautiful Higgins Atrium,” Ortega wrote. “We’re thankful to Erica [assistant dean] in the School of Engineering for helping us make this year’s event even more special.”

Leonard concurred and wrote that having the space allowed them to think of more ways to reimagine the formal. 

“When we were met with difficulties in finding a space, we decided to think outside the box and use this beautiful new space to create something really special,” Leonard wrote. “So many of our performing arts students come from the School of Engineering, so it has been very exciting for us to be able to reimagine how to use the space in a new way!” 

Divirgilio said that he felt the new space was the perfect accommodation for the amount of students who attended the event. 

“Honestly, I think that for the number of people that attended it was the perfect size,” said Divirgilio. “I also thought it was cool to host the event somewhere different because it allowed for really good pictures. The lighting just created the right ambiance for the event, so I personally really liked it.”

Divirgilio said that the event was something he looked forward to all four years of his time with Performing Arts. 

“I think what I love most about the performing arts formal is that it is something that is only for performing arts people, which I don’t think we necessarily see all the time at Manhattan College,” said Divirgilio. “And that’s not to say that MC doesn’t support its performing arts programs, but it does feel like in this case, we’re being honored and celebrated and that feels really good.”