Hero within

By Michelle Nosratian

Rugby Theater has never been visited by more heroes than it was during the upper school Dance Concert March 13, 14 and 15. The theme of the Concert, choreographed by the Advanced Dance II company and performed by a cast of 26, was “heroes,” running the gamut from Wonder Woman to doctors to ordinary mothers.

Elana Fruchtman ’10 opened the show as a lonely girl who dreams of being a hero, but becomes discouraged when two boys, Daniel Rudyak ’09 and Avery Rosin ’09, bully her and steal her glasses. Inspiration comes in the form of her knight in shining armor, Lauren Wolfen ’09, who after an elaborate dance number with a group of knights, returns Fruchtman’s glasses.

The dancers and lighting make the modest stage design with three wooden doors come alive, as various heroes and villains enter and exit through the doors.

Throughout the course of the 120-minute continuous performance, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa and Albert Einstein, among others shared the stage with comic book superheroes in colorful uniforms and ordinary people that are not always appreciated, such as mailmen.

Quite a few guest stars also appeared. In one particularly memorable scene, Rudyak played a mustachied villain who tied “damsel in distress” Tess Hatch ’11 to train tracks and sat cackling as fellow damsels flitted across the stage helplessly. Wonder Woman, played by guest dancer Catie Yagher ’10, came to the rescue.

Perhaps the most celebrated guests were Assistant to Head of Upper School Michelle Bracken, English teacher Adam Howard, math teacher Paula Evans and science teacher David Hinden, who elicited an enthusiastic response from the audience when they took the stage to portray the heroism of teachers.

The performance depicted overarching themes such as the selflessness, generosity and inspiration that heroes must embody.

Quotations from famous heroes projected just above the doors on the stage provided insight into particular sequences.

“We wanted to show how we can all ultimately be our own heroes,” Daria Gaut ’09 said.

Throughout the show, the dancers occasionally assembled themselves as dragons to illustrate the theme of how a hero must learn to rise over his or her inner demon, using leverage, balance and superb coordination to prop one another up and create a coherent moving form.

In what was perhaps one of the most poignant parts of the performance, the dancers assembled chairs into rows as a dancer dressed as Rosa Parks, Taylor Hooks ’09, refused to relinquish her seat on the bus. The dancers also danced to an excerpt of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

After a dance about different forms of recue, one about family and one involving 22 shimmering capes that filled the auditorium, the show ended with a glimmer of hope, with the last dancer exiting, leaving the door ajar and a light shining through.

“We had spent so much time choreographing and rehearsing, so when the concert actually came it was really rewarding,” said Ellie Bensinger ’09. “I think we were really able to get our message across.”