More Than A Pulse in Your Veins
Video filmed and edited by Lorenzo Brogi-Skoskiewicz ('20)
The Pulse final show kicked off at Davis Auditorium with a huge uproar from the crowd. Members of the performing group, energetic as always, opened up the show in the dimmed light of Davis auditorium, while wearing ties as bands on their eyes and drumming on their buckets. The members used items that ranged from buckets to metal poles, playing music to energize the excitable crowd. The text generator switched constantly from “Hungarian Folk Story” to “Long Eggs” and other random things, capturing the heart of why Pulse shows are so special.
The performance group, which has definitely evolved and matured through the past couple of years, includes 11 members: Devon Kilburn ‘18, Paul Goldfinger ’20, Colin Medvic ‘20, Ethan Simon ’19, Wes Jansen ‘19, Daniel Savitz ‘19, Martha Belshaw ‘19, Dorothy Lowenstein ‘21, and Jack Thomas Florio ‘21, with Paul Lapinski ‘18 and Jimmy Martucci ‘18 as co-presidents.
“I feel like our dynamic has gotten a lot stronger together socially,” Paul ’18 said during our interview. “We’re a family for sure,” Martha confirmed. It’s undeniable that the group has chemistry, not only clear from their shows, but also during their playful interactions with each other throughout the interview.
The chemistry between Pulse members is essential to the group and it’s an important requirement for their audition process. The ability to work as a team is a fundamental skill to have not only because of the interactive nature of Pulse shows, but also because of the group’s dynamics — especially when new members join and others depart for study abroad or for graduation.
The audition process, which usually happens at the beginning of each year, also has evolved alongside the group, according to Jimmy. He mentions that the audition process consists of multiple steps, such as putting people in a group and asking them to produce something together, while the existing Pulse members go around and observe the group dynamics and how each person works as a team player. Afterwards, they are split into smaller groups and do a similar activity. In the end, each person produces a solo while others lay a backbeat.
Dorothy, one of the newest members, mentions that she decided to try out when she saw the group at the club fair, having admired them for years when her sister attended Skidmore. However, lately, Pulse has been having a bit of difficulty in advertising themselves to encourage students to audition.
According to Paul ‘18, doing a show in the beginning of the year might have contributed to making some students feel that they don’t have the skills that the group requires. Daniel then adds that it might have caused some kind of “intimidation” that the group definitely did not intend. “There is no previous experience required to audition for Pulse,” says Ethan. He adds that “the group encourages everyone who is interested to pick up the sticks and come join us.”
Every song Pulse has performed is original, and they continue to create more. Their newest song was created in a similar manner to the audition process: by breaking the group into smaller sections to come up with short songs, and then comparing them.
However, the process is not as straightforward as it seems. Daniel jokes that it can actually be quite stressful: “Imagine rewriting the Declaration of Independence, everyone wants to put in their ideas!” Paul ’20 adds to that by saying “Imagine a group of people who have sticks, buckets and other metal objects in front of them, whenever we are trying to write — me included — we do a lot of noodling [messing around], so attention is needed.”
“The process of writing songs can become very chaotic,” Wes ‘19 adds with a chuckle. “But we are working on our communication skills.”
While discussing their future plans, Pulse members say they are interested in performing at other colleges. They also mention that they perform a couple times a year for the toddlers at the Greenberg Center on campus.
What I found most interesting about Pulse members is their enthusiasm. They bring a liveliness to the stage that is completely natural. Much of what happens in the show is improvised, including the solo sections during their songs. Their shows are very interactive and many things in the show are meant to build a relationship with the audience. For example, the visual component — which was pitched by Devon — is another way to use equipment to engage students.
As described by members and fans, Pulse’s dedication to their audience is what makes the group so unique and fun to be around. “It’s all about the energy," said Martha. "We want to bring a good strong energy to ourselves and to the crowd, and that is really what Pulse is about.”