SunDancers Host Alumni Brunch to Honor Directors

Katie Hendler, Human Resources Director

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  • Alumni, directors, and current SunDancers squeeze together for a group photo to commemorate the first ever gathering of past and present teams. The attendees celebrated the past directors over brunch before Escapade.

  • Previous SunDancer director Shelby Kelly hugs her past students. Kelly was honored at the alumni brunch for her many years of dedication to the dance department.

  • Current SunDancer juniors Susan Hamilton and Lucy Wassmuth look through team scrapbooks. The memorabilia table held scrapbooks from almost every single year since the team was founded.

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On Saturday, April 2, multiple generations of SunDancers gathered in the dance studio for an alumni brunch. This event made SunDancer history as it was the first time that dancers from the beginning of the team’s founding in 1981 joined the current team, for Chick-Fil-A and celebration. The brunch honored the previous directors, Marla Valk and Shelby Kelley, and their many years dedicated to the shaping and nurturing of the school’s dance department.

“The honorees both helped build the dance department as it is today, with classes, Warrior Pride, and SunDancers,” SunDancer Line Officer Carly Kienitz ‘23 said. “We see their impacts now in our style of dance and how we differ from other drill teams, as well as a lot of our traditions that have carried onto the present.”

This was also an opportunity for the current team to get to know the SunDancers before them. A slideshow of photos from every year of the team sent in by the alumni attending played throughout the morning. There was also a table of team scrapbooks from each year for the guests to peruse. 

“One of my favorite parts was being able to look through old pictures and see old uniforms and traditions,” Kienitz said. “I loved getting to see how it all has changed over the years into what we are used to now.”

The brunch took place prior to the last night of the SunDancer’s annual dance showcase, “Escapade”, which included a dance with the alumni, giving them the chance to take the stage as a SunDancer for one last time. This dance closed the first act, and showed off every single dance class and team, along with the alumni.

“I thought that the dance was pretty cool and a good homage to the two women who built the dance department,” Warrior Pride helper and SunDancer Claire Johnson ‘22 said. “There was this one older woman who killed it, I couldn’t even tell she hadn’t danced with a team in a while.” 

The event was not limited to alumni from 1981, as alumni who graduated just as recently as 2021 dined with their former teammates. The SunDancers enjoyed getting to catch up with their friends in college who they hadn’t seen in a while.

“It was super fun getting to see some of my older SunDancer friends and teachers. It was nice to be able to show off the new dance studio and eat all of the food with them,” Johnson said. “It was fun to hear about what they were actually doing after graduation and how they still love to support the team.”

Overall, the brunch was successful in bringing past and current dancers together to celebrate and share their love for dancing. The alumni performance at Escapade on Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2  also commemorated the previous directors and team members.