Behind the scenes: Dance Company’s show Turning Pages

By CELINE NGUYEN
Staff Writer

UHS Dance Company has become a close-knit group after all of the long hours at practices and rehearsals. Led by Mr. Edward Johnson (Visual and Performing Arts Dept.), their cohesiveness allows them to perform together in a way that translates emotionally to the audience.

The theme of this year’s dance show is “Turning Pages.” Themes for the annual dance show are picked by relevancy to that year’s Dance Company members.  Shivani Lamba (Jr.) said, “[Turning Pages] is loosely based off the movie Pagemaster. We use different styles of dance including hip hop, contemporary, Bollywood and hula to convey different genres of books. We have a Harry Potter dance, a Travel Book dance, Little Red Riding Hood, Under the Sea, Terminator and much more!”

UHS Dance Company President Angelica Busciglio (Sr.) said, “We have bee working on our annual show, ‘Turning Pages,’ a narrative revolving around a central character revolving around a central character interacting within different stories or books that come to life.”

The annual dance show features pieces by several choreographers, all of whom are students within Dance Company. In order to bring them together, “each of our choreographers communicates with our costume mistress, Christine Ho (Sr.), who designs Dance Co. clothing and costumes, and describes the overall vision for costuming. Along with our dancers, we work to recycle, purchase, or make the costumes.”

Lighting and technical portions of the dance show are handled by a lighting coordinator with whom the choreographers work with when designing their specific routines. Johnson and the UHS Tech Crew then work together to finalize the designs. Techie Ethan Findley (Sr.) said, “To make the show go through without any mistakes, we make sure to work in depth with the dancers to create the best performance possible.”

There were some unique tech challenges in the show this year. Two performances required a prop door but he tech crew could not set it up before the dancers came onstage because they needed the dancing space. As a result, two tech crew members carried a door onstage while the dancers were performing, a rare occurrence because the tech crew normally works in the dark.

Vicki Li (Jr.), one of the door-carriers, said, “It was a fun experience because we tried not to disrupt the focus on the dancers.” Besides that, she said that the tech crew had the chance to learn some dances backstage, even receiving some dance tips from Mr. Johnson himself.

Dance company performed one of their pieces from “Turning Pages” at 8th Grade Family Night to promote their program. There were a number of eighth graders present, and many expressed an interest in the program.

Claudia Kigesa (Jr.), who was once one of those eighth graders, said, “I think opening the dance studio during 8th grade visiting night is our way of showing the incoming class what we do through dance. Our dancing expresses more about us as a company than our words ever could. Dance Company has allowed me to explore different styles and helped me to grow as a dancer overall.”

With five-hour rehearsals on weekdays and 10-hour rehearsals on weekends adding up to over 30 hours a week starting two months before each show, preparation can be stressful — but also a meaningful experience.

“We had a lot of doubts about our show before opening night because we aimed higher than ever this year. So, it seemed like we would never be ready. From creating a show that actually had to follow a storyline, to coordinating with tech crew to build a book that three people could fit inside of, to working with two guest artists, to transporting hundreds of books from the library to the theater lobby, we worked countless hours to put this show together,” Julia Cheng (Jr.) said. “But on opening night, after performing our first piece, this wave of amazement came over me. I realized that this show was by far the best that we’ve put on since I joined company freshman year.”

UHS Dance Company is more than just a dance team. Cynthia Wang (Sr.) said, “It’s so rare to find a group of people like the ones in company and I think we are so unique because we work together instead of tearing each other apart. There’s no hate or bad feelings.”

Katie Fukada (Sr.) advises incoming dancers to be patient. ‘It’s a long process to create a dance show and you’ll most likely get frustrated with yourself and your dancers,” she said. “But give yourself a few moments to just breathe. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. And be awesome.”

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