Mt. Hebron’s Dance Program showcased their talents in the annual Dance Assembly on Jan. 30. and was a hit among students and staff. Supervised by dance teacher Ms. Dina Reyes, the students had been preparing for the assembly since the beginning of October.
Each level of the Dance Program learned and worked through different pieces that were based upon this year’s theme, “The School Day,” in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mt. Hebron and to interpret through dance the lessons students learn in school each day in their classes.
“I thought that the theme this year was a lot more thought-provoking, and I saw a closer connection between the choices of music and lyrics to the actual dance itself,” said English teacher Ms. Goodwin.
The dancers practiced in class each day as the assembly drew nearer, and their preparation culminated in a major rehearsal directly before the show. The Junior Company and Dance Company classes are performance-based, meaning that the students move directly into learning choreography. The Dance 1, 2, 3 and 4 classes learn technique in ballet, modern and jazz, also focusing on the history and vocabulary.
“They’ve improved technically,” said Ms. Reyes, who teaches all six levels of dance. “They’ve improved through their performance and self-expression and also their professionalism and the ability to work as an ensemble.”
“I love dance. I love the way that you are able to just move freely, and I enjoy sharing that with other people,” said sophomore Isabel Sangiorgi, a member of Dance Company. “I think dance made me a lot more outgoing.”
The captains of each Company were very hard at work this semester preparing for the assembly. Their job was to make sure the dancers stayed focused and to help them learn the choreography. They even got to choreograph a dance of their own.
The dance interns also choreographed pieces of their own for the assembly. As part of their internship, they are required to work on a production and choreograph dances.
But the dancers were not the only ones who put in practice time and effort for the performances. Some of the football players volunteered for a special guest appearance in one of the dances. They came in after school every Thursday to perfect their moves for the performance.
“I think it was a very fun experience to participate in and to help out the Dance Company,” said sophomore Rickie Williams, quarterback for the Varsity Football team. “I think dance is a very inspiring form of exercise.”
According to senior and Dance Company Captain Samantha Bronow, “[The football players] were super enthusiastic and excited about performing.”
On Friday, students gathered in the auditorium to watch the assembly during sixth period. Ms. Reyes introduced the assembly and the overall idea behind it. Then, all of the dancers dressed in costumes representing different decades from the 1960s to the 2000s while a slideshow of yearbook images from those years — including a high school picture of a young Principal Scott Ruehl — played for the audience.
Each dance was meant to represent a different class during the school day, such as Geometry, Physical Education and English.
Two of the dances, the Holocaust and a social commentary to accompany Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, represented a Social Studies class and an English class, respectively. They also included moving tributes to the late Ms. Cyndie Fagan, whose favorite novel to teach was To Kill a Mockingbird and who started the Stamp Project to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and to promote tolerance among all people.
“I think that the Holocaust [dance] was much more powerful, and I thought the video that went with it was incredibly well done,” said Ms. Goodwin.
Dance Company, introduced by Math teacher Mr. Tom Sankey, taught the audience about symmetry with an enthralling dance wherein a camera mounted above the stage provided an interesting angle as the dancers demonstrated symmetry with their graceful movements.
But the dances were not only based on academic subjects. A piece choreographed by one of the dance interns featuring soloist sophomore Dominique McPherson was based on bullying in high school. It even included a slideshow over the stage with screenshots of mean tweets or “subtweets,” and a call to action for audience members to “#StoptheBullying.”
A live accompaniment by members of the Chamber Orchestra enriched a pointe piece performed by several Dance Company members, keeping themselves and the audience “on their toes.”
This year’s dance assembly provided an interesting take on the school day, showing that the lessons we learn in each class are not limited to a literal understanding, but can be applied universally to all aspects of our lives.