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Dance Ensemble’s Annual Showcase Amazes Audiences

Watchung Hills students share eight months worth of preparation and passion with eager audiences

Dancers+performing+%22Internal%2C%22+choreographed+by+senior+Jessie+Gittleman
Dancers performing

Dancers performing "Internal," choreographed by senior Jessie Gittleman

Lindsay Fogel

Lindsay Fogel

Dancers performing "Internal," choreographed by senior Jessie Gittleman

Lindsay Fogel, Student News Editor

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As the lights in the PAC slowly dimmed, audience members immediately hushed and turned their attention to the stage as the WHRHS Dance Ensemble took their places, nervous, yet excited for their opening night to begin.

After eight months of preparation, beginning with auditions in October and continuing practices and choreographing dances through May, students of all grade levels came together to create and perform, united by their common passion: dance. On Thursday, May 18th, and Friday, May 19th, hundreds of hours of preparation culminated into the Dance Ensemble’s Spring Showcase. Each night was complete with a vast range of pieces, including numerous student-choreographed dances, as well ones choreographed by WHRHS’s guest choreographer, Mark Roxey, from The Roxey Ballet Company.

By the end of each show, audience members were blown away by the incredible talent of the dancers and choreographers. Attendees also recognized the energy throughout the various pieces regardless of style, ranging from modern to hip-hop, complete with uplifting and emotional messages conveyed to audience members.

Sherry Paterson stated, “It was incredible to see student choreography with such depth and emotion,” emphasizing the professional nature of the production and dance program as a whole at Watchung Hills.

One such piece was junior Katherine Paterson’s number, entitled “Body Love” and to the tune of Mary Lambert’s song, “Body Love.” Her dance featured dancers Katey Berger, Jennifer Cagno, Michelle Du, Olivia Hu, Abby Kotar, Emma Kotar, Noelle Kulisz, Julianne Lin, Allison Manspeizer, Carissa Petruele, and Jaemi Spaven. This dance, in particular, left deep impressions on the audience as a result of its uplifting and ever-relevant message promoting body positivity.

As Rhiannon Barone commented, “The dances were so full of emotion I could feel it. I cried for some of the dances because they were so beautiful, it was impossible not to feel the power behind every dance.”

As the night continued, various solos and duets were performed along with the group dances. The first solo, choreographed and performed by Julia Piela, was performed to Olafir Arnald’s “So Close,” complete with movements that matched the song’s tempo, creating a well-crafted and engaging piece. The next solo, choreographed by Katey Berger and Marissa Miller, left audiences in awe as Berger performed several acrobatic moves to the sound of Halsey’s song, “I Walk the Line.” Finally, Aayushma Patel performed a number she choreographed, “Solitude,” with a duet performed by Michelle Du and Julianne Lin entitled “Sequences and Series.”

Right before intermission, dancers performed a touching and emotional piece as a tribute to Mr. Cruz, entitled “Dear Cruz” and choreographed by Stevie Mauro. The lyrics and soft movements of the dancers, coupled with raw emotions and dancers wearing the shirts designed with “Cruz” in the center and his beloved Barcelona team’s colors, left community members moved from start to finish.

Kaelin Churchill explained, “Sometimes I would forget the dances were choreographed by students because they all were done so professionally. I’d forget that it was high school students and not a professional dance showcase.”

Lindsay Fogel
Students performing “Internal” with choreography by Jessie Gittleman

As the night came to an end, one of the final pieces was a group dance featuring the Ensemble’s graduating seniors, complete with their college wear. The number, choreographed my Melissa Markowich and entitled “Slap,” was a crowd favorite as the seniors happily danced, incorporating aspects of previous Dance Ensemble pieces and fun movements.

The final piece, entitled “Excerpt from Astigmia,” served as a perfect conclusion to the night, incorporating various aspects of media that intrigued and interested audiences, from the utilization of black lights to shadows on the walls of the PAC. Nick Arceo commented, “The last dance that had black lights was so cool I was in a trance the whole time.”

Over the course of the shows, the WHRHS Dance Ensemble entertained and engaged audience members, leaving them amazed by the noteworthy talent, effort, and dedication of each and every dancer throughout the night. The wide variety of pieces, differing in style, type, and meaning, illustrated the students’ passion as eight months of practicing and preparing culminated in their two nights-worth of magnificent showcases.

As Katie Napell surmised, “Every year I am blown away by the Dance Ensemble shows, but this year especially I was truly speechless. The amount of talent al these dancers possess is truly incredible. Their talent is what makes Watchung Hills have such a distinguished arts program.”

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Dance Ensemble’s Annual Showcase Amazes Audiences