Over the course of the past three months, creating and rehearsing choreography has encouraged Advanced Dance II company member Carli Cooperstein ’20 to explore different styles of movement, increase her versatility as a dancer and become a stronger leader. In less than two weeks, Cooperstein will take the stage alongside 26 of her peers to perform in this year’s annual Dance Concert, “The Endless Cycles of a Straight Line,” from March 13 to 15.
“Since all of us have a hand in creating the movement, we all get to put in our styles and perspectives, but it also gives us the flexibility to learn new styles and adapt to others’ movement,” Cooperstein said. “Seeing as it’s a process that we all work together on, I think different pieces of choreography are made to highlight people’s strengths at different moments in the show.”
This year’s theme of polarization not only focuses on its ideological, psychological and physical aspects, but also on differing life experiences and how divisiveness plays a large role in current society.
Advanced Dance I student Cory Porter ’22 said that through movement, the concert’s emphasis has allowed her the opportunity to express her sentiments, specifically with regard to how divisiveness plays a role in our current society.
“Now more than ever, we see polarization present in our everyday life, in the news, in our government and even at school,” Porter said. “Hopefully, the dances we’ve created can help inspire people to accept others and their views.”
The topics of individual pieces focus on various aspects of polarization, ranging from the importance of individuality to the rejection of political dogma, interpersonal connections to chaos and Newton’s laws of motion to consumerism.
A new addition to the dance concert
This year, first-time Advanced Dance II teacher Anne Moore has assumed the lead role in directing the show. For each number, Moore selected suitable music and provided each group of dancers with a specific directive to build on.
“I’m really proud of the innovative and thoughtful choreography that the dancers have generated throughout our collaborative process,” Moore said.
Advanced Dance II company member Jenna Kronenberg ’20 said that Moore brings a fresh perspective to the show and the dance program as a whole.
“I really like [Moore],” Kronenberg said. “Her ideas are really creative, out of the box, modern and exciting. Once you understand what they are they’re really beautiful. Change is a challenge, but I think it’s been a really good adjustment.”
Cooperstein said Moore has made the process of choreographing more open, ensuring that each dancer’s voice is heard.
“[Moore] has a really unique style that’s super interesting and very fun for us to work with,” Cooperstein said. “[It’s easy to] have creative input and she really values our opinion when creating the concert.”
Advanced Dance II company member Claire Wacziarg ’21 said rehearsals have opened her mind to new ideas in addition to furthering her dance technique.
“Throughout the process of creating the show, we learn to be flexible and collaborate with others,” Wacziarg said. “Though having to choreograph [together with so many people] is very challenging at times, it pushes us to work with others.”
Progress and Learning
Since returning from winter break, dancers have been working together in multiple small and large groups to translate their ideas and visions into complete choreographic works.
“I’ve gotten better at my teamwork skills and my leadership skills,” Kronenberg said. “There are some really big dances so you get to work with a lot of people with different skills and availability so I’ve gotten better at becoming more patient and seeing how other people’s ideas can lead to really cool transitions and can weave together beautifully with my ideas. As a senior, I have a little bit more responsibility so this year I’ve gotten to show up and organize.”
Porter said that she is pleased with how far the show has come.
“Every time I go to rehearsal I think about what we have accomplished and feel a sense of pride, knowing that we still have another few weeks to make major improvements,” Porter said.
As the final weeks of rehearsal approach, Paige Corman ’20 said she looks forward to the culmination of the company’s preparations.
“Everyone should definitely come to see the show because it’s really important to everyone involved, especially because we’ve been working on it for [so long],” Corman said. “As a senior, this is my last dance show at Harvard-Westlake, which is really crazy to think about but that definitely pushes me to work even harder and enjoy the product of our work more.”