Dancing into Summer

SILHOUETTES IN MOTION The Hockaday Dance Department performed a variety of teacher and student choreography at their Spring Showcase. Photo by Emily

The Hockaday Dance Department performed their Spring Showcase for the student body

Ask any Hockaday girl, and she’ll tell you that the dance assembly probably qualifies as one of the most exciting of the year.

With a large percentage of the student body part of dance department, it’s truly a communal event, and the warm response to this spring-time performance is encouraging to the young dancers.

“I really like the yelling and all of the energy of the peer performance and seeing faces in the audience, and it is fun talking to people afterwards,” Dance Theater member Abby aid.

But it’s not all fun for the dancers, who after the November performance, must work for months in order to perform their best work at ISAS and then at the spring performance.

“We work pretty hard during the year to get to show what we’re doing. Usually, people are responsive, which is fun, but I think we all kind of wish it was required. We work just as hard as anyone else,” Dance Theater member Caroline said.

For months, the Hockaday Dance Department prepares choreography, practices technique, and perfects their showmanship for the spring showcase, a performance to mark the end of the year in dance.

“We usually start in November, or after the fall performance, we start choreography. We had nine dances this year, so everyone gets three days. Then you have rehearsals on stage before the actual performance,” Caroline said.

In the fall, dance teachers Christie Sullivan and Beth Wortley work to choreograph pieces for all five companies of the dance department, compiling them together for a cohesive November performance every year.

“I love both the fall and spring performances. We love to try and come up with something new and fun, and then we love what the students do in spring. They are completely different, so we love both and think it’s a good balance to the year,” Wortley said.

Each half of the year offers a diverse learning experience, giving all of the girls the opportunity to learn from different girls, who each have their own moves and styles to contribute to the group.

“I think it is fun to perform someone else’s choreography. I think it also kind of makes you work a little harder because you don’t want to let that person down. It’s really fun to see what everyone comes up with and how they interpret the music,” Caroline said.

Each girl can sign up to choreograph a piece either by herself, with a partner, or in a group at the end of the fall dance season. The girls then choose music, get it approved and sign up for space on the calendar to present and teach their dance to the rest to their class, each receiving about three class periods.

“The more advanced the class is, the less time we allot to get a dance set. The students that don’t have as much experience doing that, we give them a little bit more time,” Wortley said.

The student-choreographed pieces usually are showcased in two performances; the school assembly and the parent performance at night. This year, fewer cuts were made due to the fact that some girls volunteered to take out their piece for school performance due to time constraints.

Despite the shorter number of performances, there is only one other difference between the parent and peer performance: the audience.

“I think that they love the enthusiasm of their peers. It’s almost like a pep rally. There’s nothing more exhilarating than an audience that you know is really literally and figuratively cheering for you,” Wortley said. “The parents are a little quieter, and so you’re not sure what they’re thinking or feeling. They probably have to assume a little bit more about it going well because they can’t get much feedback.”

Though the time of year never changes, each year brings a unique performance, but more importantly, the preparation for the spring showcase teaches the girls through actively creating their own dances, providing them with a different dance experience.

“They learn how to put a dance together and appreciate the complexity of that and the preplanning that’s involved, having to communicate what you want to your peers, making sure they do it well,” Wortley said. “It teaches leadership, communication, so just the process I think is really important, which is why we do it; to see the pride that they take in seeing their dance come to life on stage and the ability to see it on video is an exciting part of the artistic process.”

-Katie