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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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“I could just exist in the joy of movement,”: Terpsichore Dance Collective’s Class of 2024

In Terpsichore Dance Collective, “I could just exist in the joy of movement,” senior Claire Dietz said.

For more than 20 years, Terpsichore Dance Collective (Terp) has provided a space for Knox students to perform and choreograph dance, regardless of previous experience. Our mission is to bring the art of expression through movement to all of Knox.

Terp typically presents one show every term, formal shows occurring in Harbach Theatre and informal shows in Kresge Theatre. Covid-19 moved some of these shows virtual, or even outside in the case of spring term 2021.

Throughout this time, Terp, and its loyal audience, have preserved a space for movement and performance to Knox students. The space they created holds a wealth of meaning for graduating seniors, especially those who have spent their entire Knox career in Terp.

As part-dancer and part-The Knox Student staff member, I sat down with a few of these seniors to hear when and why they joined Terp, and what it has come to mean to them.

At first, senior Sarah Hoffman-Weitsman didn’t plan on dancing in college.

“Coming to college, I think didn’t want to dance as much because I had the competition experience, it was a sport and it had to be perfect, that kind of mindset,” Hoffman-Weitsman said.

Hoffman-Weitsman began dance classes when she was three, joining competition dance in fifth grade. She was not expecting to dance much in college. However, she joined Terp her first term at Knox, the fall of 2020.

“Here it was about the artistic creation, having fun and expressing yourself,” Hoffman-Weitsman said.

Hoffman-Weitsman, front left, and Camryn Hutchins ‘23, right, in “The Monsters Inside You,” choreographed by Hutchins and Aicha Chehmani ‘24. Photo taken by Goichi Suganuma ‘23.

Hoffman-Weitsman has participated nearly every term since then, including my first term, the fall of 2021. In that show, we were both cast in “Mercy”, choreographed by Elise Stornello ‘22.

That was the first time I met Hoffman-Weistman; now, in her last term here at Knox, she performed in my piece for Dance Fest, “my tears ricochet”.

“[Terp] helped me reconnect to my love of dance,” Hoffman-Weitsman said.

Hoffman-Weitsman in “need you (to breathe)”, choreographed by Sophia Agupugo. Photo taken by Goichi Suganuma.

For senior Claire Dietz, however, dancing in college was a must.

“Knox’s Terp was a huge draw for me,” Dietz said.

Dietz began dance classes at age nine, but never participated in competition dance or pre-professional training. However, Dietz wanted to keep dance in her life throughout college.

“I didn’t want to lose the fluidity of my dance experiences, and I couldn’t keep up with the dance majors of more rigorous dance programs. The idea that Terp was open to all and gave people of all levels a chance to participate was very intriguing to me,” Dietz said.

Dietz in “Mercy”, choreographed by Elise Stornello. Photo taken by Stornello.

Dietz also auditioned to be in Terp their first term at Knox, and ended up in the position of first-year at-large on the club’s executive board.

“Terp gave me a space to step away from classes and exist in my body. It was something I did to feed my soul without the pressure of grades and success,” Dietz said. “Terp meant I could get any of my friends involved in dance at any moment, and that my own dance skills would be taken wherever they were at whatever moment. I didn’t have to spend hours training and perfecting techniques.”

For Dietz, Terp also gave her the space and opportunity to meet and eventually choreograph with their self-proclaimed “dance soulmate”, none other than fellow senior and Terp president Aicha Chehmani.

Dietz, left, and Chehmani in “Sweet like honey”, choreographed by Dietz and Chehmani. Photo taken by Suyash Chitrakar.

For Chehmani, who began casually dancing in middle school, Terp was not even on their radar. They did audition their first fall term, however, and served as first-year at-large with Dietz.

“I’m back to a point where I can’t imagine a future without dance,” Chehmani said.

Chehmani in “The Monsters Inside You”, choreographed by Chehmani and Hutchins. Photo taken by Suyash Chitrakar.

Now, they’re minoring in dance, and completing an independent study in choreography and ballet training. They’re also captain of D-Squad, Knox’s dance team.

“I think it’s really common for people to have a very negative background [in dance] and a lot of dance coaches or dance environments are a lot more toxic, not so body positive, not so inclusive,” Chehmani said. “[Terp] has been a way for me to love dance again.”

Chehmani (center) in “When a Good Thing Ends”, choreographed by Chehmani. Photo taken by Chitrakar.

Chehmani’s last group piece, “When a Good Thing Ends”, was an emotional goodbye to a club that has come to mean so much to them. The piece was performed in Terp’s winter formal show, “Burn the Floor”.

Post-show reviews raved on and on about the performances. I heard from several that it was the best Terp show they’d ever been to. Behind the scenes, it wasn’t the smoothest show we’ve ever put on—and I certainly wasn’t happy to see the seniors go.

But it was a pretty good last show, wasn’t it?

Chehmani’s last show address came this past Saturday, May 25th, with the conclusion of our Dance Fest informal showcase. Now, the mantle will pass to me as the next Terp president.

Although I inherit a well-oiled engine, I can only hope to bring the club to the heights it reached this year.

Terp’s Class of 2024, like each graduating class before you, I am not ready to see you go—your guidance, friendship, and the time we’ve spent dancing together means so much to me.

This is the legacy of Terp’s class of 2024, just like every graduating class before it: dance, for everyone.

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About the Contributor
Jenna Schweikert
Jenna Schweikert, EIC-In-Training
Jenna Schweikert '25 (she/they) is a journalism and political science double major. They are the Editor-In-Chief In-Training for The Knox Student. In her free time, she enjoys dancing in her room to Taylor Swift records. You can most often find Jenna writing in the Gizmo or attending Terp rehearsals in CFA. Awards: Illinois College Press Association 2024
  • 3rd Place Column
Theodore Hazen Kimbale Memorial Award in Journalism - Feature article, 2022

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