While the supplies of ProPlus flow in abundance after a heavy weekend of rehearsals, today I met up with Cesca Dessain, Fusion President, at the Courtyard for drinks and a proper chat about Fusion. I’ve met her a fair few times, but now I’m really going to try to get to know her and the heart of Fusion. So far in my blogs I’ve introduced the dancers, the models, the socials…the stuff that can be seen on the surface. But it’s becoming apparent that there’s a whole lot more to Fusion than what I’ve already experienced, so I want to discover what goes on behind the scenes with the Committee as well.
Cesca has previously expressed how she wants to make sure that this year of Fusion, as is the case every year, is really different. In her opinion, the show is and should not be about superficialities or an elitist performance group running around like crazy people. Today she’s turned up in between netball practices, only too happy to be talking about the passion that’s taking over her life. Each year it grows and grows – but what’s the real pull behind the entity that is FUSION?
Right, so tell me Cesca: what lies at the very heart of Fusion?
Basically, it’s an opportunity – to meet people, to express all the talents at the University of York, to have fun. It’s a unique, prestigious event that happens every year, and people know it’ll be good. And because it’s different every year, each Committee learns from the previous, takes it up a level, and becomes successful in their own way.
So what direction are you wanting it to diverge into this year?
At university, everyone already has other commitments. But this an opportunity to get involved, not only in performing but backstage. Even if you’re watching, you’re participating. What I want people to realise is that we’re not a dance school, and York has a load of talent which needs recognition.
That’s true, we’re a really academic University, societies like Fusion are really the only outlets for these sorts of creative talents…
The reason Fusion is successful is that there’s nothing that compares to it on campus. I want to promote York’s talent and a real community vibe. So many people say they want to get involved, and you can – it’s really worth it. It gives other societies, like MUS (Make-up Society) opportunities to collaborate as well. We’re working up to a product, but I don’t want to let Fusion drop as a society after that. I’d like to continue the RAG focus – and the third term needs an excuse to meet up and carry on the friendships made through the show.
I’ve previously touched upon the fact that people view Fusion as an “elite”. Are there any rumours you want to dispel about Fusion?
Fusion is definitely recognised as a society involving the “pretty”, “exclusive”, “selective” members at university. Last year successfully, although not entirely, drew away from this and focussed on talents and people saw it in a different light. Each President transforms the show in their own way and I want to grow on last year’s team.
You were involved last year as Ordinary Member – what work are you doing now that you didn’t necessarily expect?
Obviously I have a really high level of involvement in Fusion work as President– being on the Committee last year allowed me to see how it worked and the fantastic job Tim [Ngwena, last year’s Fusion President] did. I really value personal organisation, and having deadlines – I hate being stressed out. We’d been doing preparation over summer – so that we could come back to York and just go. It’s a real learning curve from mistakes. I knew it’d be hard but personally, I only work well when I’ve got things to do. Being an Ordinary Member was like a stepping stone, as now I know how to be highly involved in every aspect of Fusion.
Have you made any underestimations?
I see events as way to meet the cast – rather than a night out, which is something else I’d really like to influence to change.
How would you describe your role as President?
It’s…[she laughs] kinda I’m like the glue, sticking everything together, co-ordinating everything so that it’s running smoothly, on time, holding the pieces together – there has to be a leader, but even behind that leader there has to be a team. It’s the only way you can work – there has to be someone taking charge, different individuals work better together, with different talents and views.
Do you think the cast find you “accessible”? There’s usually a sense of untouchable authority to the leader of a big group of people where you’re not necessarily known personally by all of them…
I’m just one of everyone else really, there’s no hierarchy in Fusion – I’m just guiding the way to a show. My role is also to be a supporter. The Committee is here for one thing – each other and the whole cast. At the moment the cast are connected to me just by what they’re actually doing. Everyone’s got a responsibility. The Committee is the foundation, but everyone is involved. Everyone has a role, even the audience! We need people to be there for us to perform to.
What’s your biggest worry at the moment?
[Without much hestitation] Not reaching people’s expectations. Fusion has a high standard. I have to be at least a bit worried, I’d be worried if I wasn’t! You always want the best – admittedly I’m a perfectionist. As long as you know you’ve worked your hardest, it’s fine. It’s funny, so many people are asking me how stressed I am at the moment. Of course it’s gonna be hectic, but there’s no time to be stressing out. The Committee is there to stick together…Stress isn’t a word I’d like to use!
That’s a really healthy attitude. I’m really feeling the Fusion love here!
It’s such an incredible thing to be inspired, both on stage and off, and the people who come to watch are such a big part of that.
Having finished her mango smoothie, Cesca departs for some more netball, telling me to get in touch anytime. Today I also discovered that she’s actually a second year – to me that’s pretty impressive, to be that passionate about a show and society like this after only a year at university. Something that I’ve realised is that all the Committee members are at the end of the day, (obviously, but importantly) just students. They’re giving up their time to make Fusion the best production it can be, and pouring hours of effort into aspects which won’t necessarily be visible in the final product. Whether it’s scheduling Central Hall and rehearsal spaces or making sure that the cast and Committee are up to date and organised, Cesca is living and breathing Fusion. She’d be happy to talk about it all day, and it shows quite clearly, so I’ll definitely be taking her up on it again.
This week a few rehearsals have been rearranged but the cast are still enthusiastic, wanting the show to be the best it possibly can. The cast are also realising the real time commitment required of them. Missing a week of rehearsals can prove really problematic as the Choreographers discovered this week, in terms of formation and catching up on new moves. But, the Committee have assured Nouse that it’s well worth it – Jeremy and Danielle each spent thirty consecutive hours on campus this weekend, and at the end of it with about an hour and a half of sleep. Danielle says: “we went to nightline for a cheeky brew, but they had ran out of mugs so we had chocolate hobnobs and just chatted to two really nice people for about an hour who we convinced to come to the show! Staying on campus was pretty fun actually and both Jeremy and I managed Gallery last night as well! HARDCORE!”
Wow – now that’s dedication, wouldn’t you say? Oof.