By Shannan Goff '03 and Heather Camarata '05 Photos by Doug Mindell
It's 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, and the Memorial Union Building (MUB) is hopping. Students are juggling, dancing, singing, spinning tunes. They're packing for a trip to the White Mountains, designing page one for Friday's edition of The New Hampshire and performing improvisational comedy before a crowd of appreciative fans. With 152 student organizations on campus--40 of which are based at the MUB--students have plenty of activities to choose from. In the next few pages, we'll take a look at students in a few of their extracurricular elements.
Adventures with Ed
Ed le Duc has seen more of the White Mountains than most people. A lifelike plastic duck, he is the mascot of the New Hampshire Outing Club, and he goes where the club's members go. "Typically during car rides he likes to ride on the roof rack, but sometimes we make him ride inside for safety reasons," says Outing Club president Chris Polanec '03. "When hiking, he is usually riding on top of someone's backpack." Ed has suffered some injuries during his strenuous career, but nothing that couldn't be repaired with a little "duck tape." The Outing Club is even more durable. It claims to be the oldest student
Rear, Patty Cavuoto '03, Sean Leslie '03, Bryony Olley '04, Chris Polanec '03; front, Corey Denton '03, Sarah McKinney '03, Joe Maslow '02, Ed le Duc
organization on campus, with a history going back to 1911, but its origins are a little vague. An official UNH history published in 1941 states that the club was recognized as a student organization in 1914, became inactive during World War I, and was revived in 1924, when it began sponsoring Winter Carnival. Today the club offers its 300 student members all kinds of opportunities for outdoor adventure: snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, caving, canoeing and more. There's usually at least one off-campus trip scheduled each weekend, often including a stay at one of the club's remote cabins in the White Mountains. "I've seen best friends meet, people have the best time in their life, and people decide to change their life's ambitions, all on Outing Club trips," Polanec says. "There is no denying that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life."
Making a Scene
The main criterion for membership in TheatreSports is "a natural ability to think on your feet and make people laugh," says director Renee Ortolani '03.
Rear, Sean Chenoweth '03, Ross Cupples '03, John Wellington '03, Brian Paul '06; middle, Jonathan truman '05, Laura Kingstorf '03, Mike McCarron '03, Renee Ortolani '03; front, Brian Carroll '04, Allie Proctor '06.
Even the members of this eccentric troupe of improvisational comedians seldom know what to expect when they begin a performance. They like to play theater games that involve the audience, and "the audience is just as unpredictable as we are," Ortolani says. One recent performance involved a game of "freeze," in which members of the audience could call out "freeze" at any point and then take the place of one of the actors. One young woman came up on stage and unexpectedly grabbed Sean Chenoweth '03 and kissed him full on the mouth. "That was the most awkward thing I've experienced as an actor," he says. Like many members, Chenoweth got involved in TheatreSports almost by accident. He arrived at UNH with no interest in theater and no idea what he might want to do with his life. But he happened to attend a TheatreSports performance, and then on a whim he auditioned to become a member. "Once you get in, the rest of the members take you under their wings," he says. "I found a home with them." Now, Chenoweth is planning to attend stunt school in August and then move to New York City to try his luck in professional theater.
Living on Air
If you want to hear the latest hits, don't tune into WUNH, 91.3 fm. The most
Casey Comiskey '04, Jessica Falla '06.
popular show on the air is "Polka Party," which features polka music and Polish culture, and there's a ban on songs that are commercial successes. "If a band already has support someplace else, it doesn't need our support anymore," says Josh Cilley '05, the station's business manager. "We have all this air time and we think we should take that time to support local music or music that isn't getting attention elsewhere." What you will find is an eclectic mix of Latin, folk, blues, electronic music, rock, jazz and world music that reflects the very different tastes of the 55 students and alumni who make up the staff. The strangest show isn't music at all--it's "sound art" composed of noises edited together into a performance piece. New DJs get 15 hours of on-air training and must pass an FCC exam before they're allowed to share their musical insights with the world, usually on the graveyard shift from 2 to 6 a.m. DJs spend up to 10 hours a week preparing for a show. They have a lot of music to choose from: the station began building its collection in the early '70s, and today boasts some 300,000 records and 30,000 CDs. To listen to the Seacoast's sound alternative, visit www.wunh.unh.edu.
The Beat Goes On
The members of Brothers and Sisters in Step dance to a different beat. You might call it "body percussion," with carefully choreographed moves that involve
stamping, clapping and chanting to create a strong rhythm. "You try and find the beat through your head and then bring it out through your movements," says president Antoinette Hilson '05. "Stomping is basically our foundation beat." The 13 members take turns as lead dancers, with two or three out in front and the others in what Hilson calls "the chorus" behind them. "Instead of just clapping our hands, we try different ways to make the sounds--hit our arms, the back of our hands or our neighbor's hand." "Stepping" has been popular with black fraternities and sororities since the 1920s, and the members of the group see it as a way to encourage diversity on campus and to foster school spirit. "We call ourselves brothers and sisters because we care for each other," Hilson says. "We're all resources for each other--upperclassmen look out for freshmen. The team feels like my family." The group performs at events like pep rallies and the recent presidential inauguration. "I've learned a lot about myself," Hilson says, "how to be patient, how to communicate, how to budget my time and how to care more about the people I work with."
Members of the UNH Juggling Club learn to keep more balls in the air than the average student. Most of the 20 or so people who meet weekly to juggle balls, beanbags, clubs, rings, torches and knives do it "to have fun and relax," says Dan Gallant '04, the club's vice president. "They don't aspire to be great." Nonetheless, the group's founder, Mark Nizer '83 (he was Mark Neisser in his student days) went on to become an international juggling champion, performing at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and on television. Several current members are also professional performers. The club is open to local residents as well as
Rear, Jodi Bossio '03, Dan Gallant '04, Nicole Primeau '03; front Marybeth Seekamp, Foster Haskell, Peter Spofford.
students, and members agree that the greatest benefit of belonging is the opportunity to learn from one another. They get together for practice weekly, and when they can get a room large enough, you can find them riding unicycles and juggling simultaneously. Club president Toby Schreier '04 says the craziest things he's ever juggled are knives, while Gallant says he has tried juggling fireballs (but not in the MUB). Jugglers say that their art is so difficult because it requires them to use both sides of the brain at the same time. "Juggling is not for everybody," Schreier says. "It's not really cool. You have to get used to looking stupid and dropping stuff all the time." ~