Advanced Dance II students, guest performers and faculty danced in response to recent global events at the Upper School Dance Concert from March 3 to 5 in the Rugby Theater.
“In difficult times, we need one another,” director and Performing Arts Teacher Cyndy Winter said. “This is our way of giving back to our community. Our means is dance, and our goal is to provoke thought.”
The show is inspired by Fred Rogers’ part in the ‘90s television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and follows the dancers as they face pertinent issues and themes, ranging from optimism to cynicism.
“Having big themes like love, hatred and fear were important to have in the dance concert because they’re topics that people don’t talk enough about,” company member Princie Kim ’18 said. “We really wanted to make something that carried a real message to the audience. I think the show targeted the reality of how widespread these issues are and that we as students can actually make a change in the community if we tried.”
Like Rogers, who changes into a cardigan and sneakers in his theme song while speaking about love and honesty, dancers also put on red sweaters and sneakers as the scenes evolve during the performance.
“I think Mr. Rogers, especially right now, just teaches us important things about human decency and overall kindness that we should all take with us,” guest performer Maija Wainwright ’19 said. “It’s basically inspired by what’s going on in the world now and our take on what we need as people in response.”
The dancers in the show found that the theme was both personal and relevant to current events.
“The theme definitely hit really close to home, especially due to all the recent events in the world,” Anneliese Breidsprecher ’18 said. “To me, love translated to community and what we needed to do to come together to overcome all the hate we are constantly faced with. It became a rallying cry for me, it opened my eyes and allowed me to truly see how much work needed to be done.”
Performing arts teachers chose this theme to start a conversation and responded to recent events, Performing Arts teacher Erica Jansson ’08 said.
“The show is a response to the divides that are occurring throughout our country and world,” Jansson said. “Mr. Rogers’ words reinforced the message that we are all neighbors, and the world is our neighborhood.”
The goal for the show was to spread a message of hope to all.
“Our hope was to create a show that spoke to both sides of aisle. We may have different backgrounds, faiths, skin color, experiences, ideologies, but love, compassion and hope are themes that unite us all,” Jansson said.
The show utilized various forms of expression to promote these messages, Jansson said.
“We wanted the show to represent the feelings of our students,” Jansson said. “Not only did they have a voice through their choreography and performance, they also communicated to the audience through the graffiti on the walls.”
Demonstrating their ideas through these various forms provided audience members a unique and emotional experience, guest performer and Upper School Dean Celso Cardenas said.
“Dance is an incredible art form that has the ability to express so many emotions, and I felt it was the perfect vehicle to emote what many people are thinking and feeling at the moment,” Cardenas said. “The message of this year’s show is very much in line with my own outlook on society. It is about leaning on one another and keeping hope alive.”
The showcase extended diversity in all aspects of the showcase, including dance genres, music and cast members, Erick Gredonia ’17 said.
“The entire theme of the show was diversity and acceptance for others, and we really tried to embrace that for all different aspects of the performance,” Gredonia said. “There were performances that dealt with different cultures and dances that involved different types of genres of dance, which is really awesome.”
The program’s intent to diversify reflects cast members’ hopes for future change in the community.
“Having [increased gender diversity] as our goal throughout the entire process really displays what we want to achieve as a school and achieve in this world.”
The dancers began their work on the show at the beginning of the school year and weekend rehearsals after winter break. Students had the opportunity the week of the performances to purchase roses and write a note for the dances for their work.
The show also demonstrated a united response towards not only global events but also recent events on campus, Eden Fincher ’17 said.
“All the performances went wonderfully, and it is so rewarding that our message was well-perceived,” Fincher said. “In the context of the current events, I felt that the message of our show was a pertinent reminder not only of the strength and resolution we can supply as a unified people but also a reminder of the emotions and ideas that link us all universally.”
The performance is not only timely but also conveyed a message of love and respect, Davis Cook ’19 said.
“It is a timeless concept, the concept of empathy and love and trying to forward it,” Cook said.