…And All That Jazz

Blue Strut, PA’s new jazz dance group, hopes to bring a fresh beat to the modern- and ballet-focused Andover dance scene. Farah Dahya ’08 and Britney Van Valkenburg ’08, the group’s founders, are well versed in ballet and jazz dance. Both have danced for most of their lives. “Last year Farah and I were constantly talking about how much we miss jazz, considering how rarely it is offered at PA, and decided to start a group of our own,” says Van Valkenburg when asked about the group’s beginnings. Instructor of Theatre and Dance Judith Wombwell, the group’s faculty advisor sponsored the idea at the end of last year, enabling the group to take form this fall. Auditions took place soon after the start of classes. Dahya and Van Valkenburg chose five dancers to be part of the group: Catherine Castillo ’06, Cecily Pulver ’07, Renee Amirault ’07, Cecile Yu ’07, and Mikaela Sanders ’08. So far, they have scheduled rehearsals two or three times a week. The group has already started preparation for performances this year. This past Tuesday, they won a much-coveted spot in this year’s Grasshopper Night. Amirault, one of the co-heads of Hypnotiq, which will also perform in Grasshopper, Dahya, and Van Valkenburg are contemplating a joint performance. This year the dance department will regularly host a new event, “Friday Forays” which will allow people to view dance pieces in progress. Blue Strut will perform frequently at these gatherings. As of now, Dahya and Van Valkenburg think that the group will remain campus contained. However they will keep their eyes open for appealing off-campus auditions. Both leaders hope that the group may successfully teach community members to appreciate different types of dance. As Van Valkenburg said, Blue Strut’s main goal is to “dance as much as we can and show everybody how incredible Jazz is.”