Dancing in the Starry Night

Sophia Nuñez ’20 frantically grabbed the costume box as she got ready to run onto the stage, excited for her upcoming dance. As the lights came up, she began her Lady Gaga dance, trying to mimic the performer’s unique persona in this year’s annual Dance Concert.

“We spend hours even after rehearsal ends practicing and cleaning because we want the show to be as powerful as possible,” Nuñez said. “Our goal is to honor the artists we are dancing about and remind the audience of how important art is to the world.”

This year the dancers in Dance Concert are playing homage to the work of popular artists, like Johannes SebastianBach, Frida Kahlo and Bob Marley.

The emulation of the art is expressed by intricate dances that connect different types of art, Advanced Dance I student and Guest Dancer Naomi Ogden ’20 said. The dancers are in the class Advanced Dance II with some in Advanced Dance I.

“Basically, each dance tells a story, not just of the art, but each individual artist and how they come together,” Ogden said. “It’s beautiful to see all the dances come together because you contact artists you never expect to contact before.”

In the past, Dance Concerts have followed a story, like last year’s telling of the “Harry Potter” series through dances, but this year, the concert brings together many different types of art through powerful movements, Ogden said.

“At first, it doesn’t look like there would be a main story, but as the show progresses, the audience can connect the concepts to things in our own microcosm,” Ogden said.

Unity and community are big themes of the show, with many of the dances being ensemble pieces, Advanced Dance II student Jenna Kronenberg ’20 said.

“Without community, the show would not be as integrated and as full as it is,” guest dancer Echo Seireeni ’21 said. “Especially in the big dances, everyone needs to work together and basically have one communal brain or else everything will fall apart. We also have to be open to subjects, and I think, in, that way, it is really like a family.”

The sense of community is also present outside of the dances, Kronenberg said.

“I really feel like dance has given me a whole different group of friends,” Kronenberg said. “This year, I really got to know the seniors and became really close with all of them. I love seeing people in the halls and just feeling the sense of community outside of the dance studio. In rehearsal, there are occasionally artistic differences when choreographing, but nothing ever exceeds the dancing.”

The showcase is student-run, and the dances are choreographed and taught to each other by the students, guest dancer and Advanced Dance I student Maddie Boudov ’21 said.

“Being a guest dancer, most of the choreography that I learned for the first dance was either choreographed by the group of guest dancers in that dance or the other dancers in that dance who are in Advanced Dance II and taught it to use during our weekend rehearsals,” Boudov said.

The styles of the dances range from contemporary to more classic pieces with elements of ballet.

“I love doing contemporary dances because I love working on new ways of choreographing and dancing in ways I’m not used to,” Nuñez said.

The dancers rehearsed during class, as well as on the weekends, for the past two months. During the week leading up to the show, the dancers participated in tech week, when there were rehearsals after school everyday with the proper lighting and music in Rugby Theater, Kronenberg said.

“The rehearsals are definitely a time commitment,” Advanced Dance II student Izzy Yanover ’19 said. “You have to be invested in dance, but they are so much fun. It’s also a chance to hang out with your friends on the weekends.”

The concept for the concert is very personal to some students because it is connecting so many different aspects of art that people love, Yanover said.

“In many ways, dance is an art form, so it is really amazing to be able to connect to other artist using art,” Yanover said. “A big part of Dance Concert that was very influential to me was being able to learn about the artists that we did dances on. I felt like I was able to connect to what I was dancing on, and it made the dance more personal.”

The concert is this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are available to all who want to see the show through the Harvard-Westlake box office.

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