Campus / News / September 23, 2009

Campus welcomes new clubs

Gaelic Fire

Founded by Katy Sutcliffe and Kathy Groat

Tuesdays 6-7pm, Sundays 2-3pm in the Aux Gym

While there were already several popular dance and movement organizations on Knox College campus, sophomore Katy Sutcliffe came to Knox hoping for something different, namely Irish dance.

“I came to college hoping there was something,” Sutcliffe said. “I looked around Galesburg and the nearby areas and there really isn’t anything, unless you want to drive to Peoria, which is 45 minutes away and that’s not very cool. There’s nothing like that around here. I missed doing it, and there were other people I ran into who missed doing it too.”

Along with sophomore Kathy Groat, Sutcliffe founded Gaelic Fire to bring the instruction of Irish dance to campus.

“We really just want to do Irish dance,” Sutcliffe said. “We want to teach it to people; we want to get it out there. I’d been exposed to the dance department through friends and taken a class or two, and there’s a growing demand for more and more dance styles at Knox.”

Through Gaelic Fire, Sutcliffe hopes to bring something new and different to campus life.

“Definitely a kind of dance [campus] has never seen before,” Sutcliffe said. “It could be considered an athletic opportunity, it’s a really athletic type of dance, and it’s a really good workout. Hopefully, we’ll be offering a bit of Irish culture too, if we get to that point.”

So, what IS Irish dance?

“Traditional Irish dance is very rigid,” Sutcliffe said. “You don’t move your upper body unless you’re doing a céilí dance which is a style of group dance. Most of the motion is centered below the waist; it’s all in the feet. There’s two types: hard shoe and soft shoe. Hard shoe is the really loud stuff most people associate with Irish dance.”

To join the club, experience is not required, though all skill levels are welcome to come.

“Anyone who wants to learn how to dance,” Sutcliffe said. “We had one member, she’s abroad right now, who’s gotten to world championship level… We have other members who’ve never danced a day in their life and just thought this sounded like a cool thing to do. We’re literally looking for anyone who wants to be involved.”

Gorilla Theater

Founded by Noel Sherrard

Meetings Monday at 9pm in the Alumni Room of Old Main for more info

Knox’s Theater department offers many opportunities for students to get involved in stage productions. But some students, like junior Noel Sherrard, aren’t interested in performing on a stage at all.

“Any sort of act that demonstrates an inner life or people’s inner beliefs and exposes that to the world is innately artistic and beautiful,” Sherrard said. “Kind of opening up social norms to being questioned, that’s great too.”

The founder of Gorilla Theater, Sherrard hopes to bring a different type of immersive experience to campus.

“A lot of Gorilla Theater has the potential to not be performative,” Sherrard said, “and the best Gorilla Theater tries to get around the context of performance, so the best GT is stuff you see… and you don’t think ‘Oh, there’s some kids acting as a spectacle.’ It’s stuff that makes you… that makes you have to ask more directed, pointed questions, and escapes labels like ‘kids performing in public.’”

So what exactly is Gorilla Theater, then?

“It’s pretty wide open,” Sherrard said. “Another [term] for it is ‘Public Performance Art,’ but that only gets at half of it. A lot of Gorilla Theater… suggests basically doing things that can either trick or lead people into a more intense mode of existence. You can scare them, you can disgust them, you can do anything that challenges them.”

Through discussions and collaborative efforts, Gorilla Theater hopes to spread that kind of perspective throughout the student body.

“It provides a place to discuss, act out the ideas, and then afterwards gives a place that people can reflect on how it went,” Sherrard said, “and hopefully build on what’s happened, and have some sort of dialogue between different artists working on projects.”

Sherrard had been doing his own ‘productions’ for some time now.

“I did some of my own projects,” Sherrard said, “and that was good, I’m glad that happened, and people had pretty good responses to that. But what I’d be personally even more interested in is seeing that kind of spontaneity happening in a community setting, outside of me kind of isolating myself with my own kind of thing.”

Interested students should attend the open forums or contact Sherrard at

“Essentially,” Sherrard said, “what the idea is, what the forum is, a space that allows people who are interested in public performance art to come together and pitch their ideas, things that they want to see happen on campus, things that would terrify them or make them laugh or make them cry. They can pitch these ideas, and whoever’s interested in those ideas can sign on and actually help them come to fruition.”


Students Taking Action Now Darfur

Founded by Lisa Marquardt and Shiri Salehin

Contact or Knox College STAND group on Facebook

With quite a number of student activism clubs already on campus, sophomore Shiri Salehin and junior Lisa Marquardt feel that a more focused effort is needed to work on some of the major issues facing our world today.

“We want to educate our fellow students about current crises going on in the world,” Marquardt said, “then we’re going to go on and increase activism, and once we’ve done that we’re going to fundraise and have fundraising events. The main thing this term is educating about the crises.”

President Salehin and Vice President Marquardt founded this club because they feel that campus needs to be better informed, and take action on that knowledge.

“It’s like a three-legged table,” Salehin said. “There are three pillars holding up the organization: education, fundraising and activism. And at this point we need to focus on education, because people aren’t aware of what’s going on. Once they are educated they’ll be willing to be involved, then we can increase activism and fundraising.”

So what can college students do to impact these events on the world stage?

“Holding elected officials responsible is really what activism means to us,” Salehin said. “So there are numerous conferences that take place, there’s a really big one in Washington ever year in November where STAND lobbies Congress, and we’d like to go [next year].”

The group’s founders also have a strong personal devotion to the group’s ideals.

“Both of us have a passion for human rights in general,” Salehin said. “I’m specifically drawn to work in preventing genocide because my father lived in a country during genocide, and my great-grandparents were both killed in the Holocaust.

Founded in 2006 by students at Georgetown University, STAND is the national student branch of the Genocide Intervention Network.

“Basically,” Marquardt said, “anyone who’s interested in learning about the world can join. It’s not like we’re a very exclusive club that only talks about very depressing things. Of course it’s depressing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like we’re going to meet every other week and be upset for an hour and then go back to living our lives, that’s not the point. The point is to educate and then see this is the problem and this is what we can do to help, even though we’re so far away, we can still do something.”

Andrew Polk

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