By KRUTHI RENDUCHINTALA, RYAN CORNELLIER, JOE MOREIRA & EMILY CHEN
For the first time in University High School’s (UHS) history, the UHS Associated Student Body (ASB)’s Fine Arts Liasons, Niusha Maleki (Sr.), Vivian Lu (Sr.) and Joanna Small (Sr.), set up a “Spotlight Week” to celebrate the performing arts on campus. Lu said, “The purpose of spotlight week was to showcase the work of the dance, drama, and choir program while also highlighting some solo artists! The week was organized with lunchfests Wednesday through Friday and a special dance company office hours performance.”
Wednesday, November 19
An excited crowd of students filled the crossroads as UHS artist Jake Wigal (Sr.) of Scavengers, accompanied by vocalist Ian Kiyoshi (Sr.), sang during Wednesday’s lunch fest.
Wigal began with one of his more popular songs “Feel Right” to pump up the crowd from the very beginning of the show. He then progressed to some of his newer songs including “Sanctified”, “Girlfriend” and “Sundress,” finally finishing with a more peaceful song called “Diamond Eyes”. Wigal demonstrated during his performance that he has the unique ability to write catchy and meaningful songs. Wigal said, “Music gives me the chance to be no filter 100% honest. It’s freeing, and you get to add something to the world, a new aesthetic and a new way of seeing things.” Most of his music is composed in his bedroom studio; he is inspired by “girls on twitter, religion, Irvine, and being a teen questioning life.” Wigal continues to make music and has sold over 250 copies of his albums through iTunes and hard copies of CDs.
In addition to his great singing style, Wigal’s charisma during the performance stood out. Kian Matin (Sr.) said that he was “inclined to buy the Scavengers album instantly after the first song.” According to Troy Lombardo (Fr.), “Jacob has positive vibes and definitely portrays that though his music and should be respected for that.”
Thursday, November 20
Dance Showcase Interactive Performance
The big gym filled with students eager to catch Dance Company’s informal office hour performance.
As the dancers warmed up and stretched, Theodora Gackle-Kendall (Sr.) introduced the crowd to the UHS Dance Company. The performance was intended to acquaint those who were not familiar with the UHS dance program by providing them with a glimpse into an average day of Dance Company practice. The interactive show, which featured both student choreography and the work of Mr. Edward Johnson (Visual and Performing Art Dept.), spanned a wide range of genres—some pieces were hip-hop, while others were modern or contemporary. The very last presentation was one that encouraged the participation of the crowd; audience members were called forth to create human representations of the letters of the alphabet, making the performance a hands-on and unique experience..
The show not only exemplified the hard work of the dancers on Dance Company, but also promoted the dance department. Mr. Johnson said, “[This informal presentation] advertises our upcoming shows, like the invitational and also the dance showcase …but [was also meant] to give the student population on campus a little bit of a view of how we get there. Oftentimes we see the finished product but we don’t see how it goes along the way, and how it changes in the course of that, so choreographers will often put their work out in front of others, and get some feedback; it’s kind of like a test marketing thing, to see what works, what doesn’t, what plays on stage, what visually works best, and what things you need to readjust.”
Dance Company Officer Angelica Busciglio (Jr.) said, “One of the best parts about being in Dance Company is forming close relationships with one another. It’s like a safety net, where we inspire one another and learn to create beautiful art forms.” Mr. Johnson adds that working with his dancers is a “daily amazement”, saying, “[The dancers] bring a smile to my face, and they make me love working here.”
You can catch the Dance Company again at the annual Dance Invitational on January 8 and 9, and the Officer-run Dance Showcase on February 12 and 13.
On Thursday, UHS ASB hosted a choir fest during lunch, featuring both talented individual vocalists and groups. The opening act consisted of a beautiful opera solo from Pollyanna Leung (Sr.), who blew the crowd away with her strong and clear vocals. Afterwards, UHS a capella group Footnotes performed a crowd favorite that it frequently covers, “I Get Around” by The Beach Boys. The performance of Austin Barber (Jr.), a member of Footnotes, got the audience especially excited with his energy. Later, Megan McCarthy (Sr.) performed a fun-filled solo piece called “In Short” by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, demonstrating her ability to pour her emotion into her singing. Towards the end of the music festivities, Undertones, another UHS a capella group, took the stage. Undertones’ performance included an impressive beat boxer Tyson Monroe (Jr.) carrying the tempo of the song “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood, while Ian Kiyoshi (Sr.) sang the lyrics with ease, allowing the song to flow beautifully.
After the music festivities, students were impressed with the various choir performances. Omri Ronen (Sr.) said, “It was a nice opportunity to witness the hidden talent here at Uni.” Tim Kwan (Sr.) added that the lunch fest “makes me wish that I could sing…it’s honestly so cool.”
Friday, November 21
During lunch, students gathered in the crossroads to watch the UHS Drama Club perform improv. The show consisted of two groups playing improv games, including “What are you doing?”, “Back In My Day”, and “185”, against each other. One team included Mae Cornellier (Jr.), Christine Ho (Jr.), Josie Bachman (So.), and Ellena Eshraghi (Fr.). The other team consisted of Yamini Nambimadom (Jr.), Amir Aftabi (Jr.), Nico Hawthorne (Jr.), and Anahita Amirshahi (Fr.).
“What are you doing” was the first game played, which pitted a player from both teams against each other in a riveting dance battle. An audience offered a theme, and the contestants went back and forth creating dance moves based on the subject. Cornellier commented on “What are you doing”, saying “The game was really fast paced, and when you’re playing with somebody who knows what they’re doing, it got really hilarious and fun.” The next game played was “Back In My Day”. Both teams lined up, and asked the audience to give them a topic. The actors proceeded to talk about the topic as if they were a senior citizen, which was met with an uproar of laughter from the audience. The final game, “185”, had the actors line up (similar to “Back In My Day”) and make jokes that start with “185 ____ walk into a bar”. Amirshahi said “I’m not too good with puns, but it was fun seeing what other people came up with. I’d love to participate in something like this next year.”
Nambimadom said of the lunch fest, “It was really fun and the audience seemed to get into it, which was good. It was a fun way to publicize Stardust.”
The week culminated with the Fall Production of “Stardust.” Small said of the entire week, “I’m really happy with how it turned out. A lot of people were at the different events, and attendance continued to grow throughout the week. More importantly, I feel like the students performing were happy they got to perform during lunch and office hours.”