Behind the Scenes

This year, Dance Open was a huge success, selling out all of the seats in Steinbach Theatre for all four shows. Even as the end result entertained both students and faculty members, the majority of the action happened before the stage was lit or the doors to Steinbach were opened. Four different participants in the Dance Open – a dancer, a choreographer, the stage manager and a director – share their views of the Dance Open from Behind the Scenes. Mercy Bell ’08 Dancer Participating in the Dance Open this year can be summarized as an intense cocktail of stress and adrenaline. I have only encountered this amount of intensity here at Andover. Grueling practices that had members of Hypnotiq sweating and dizzy finally culminated in a piece that we were all extremely proud of. Choreographed by a majority of the group, the exciting performance electrified and gratified audience members and dancers alike. A week before the performance, tech run-throughs went smoothly, or as smoothly as tech weeks can. Major dramas included tights that were M.I.A. and all the lighting, choreography and sound incidents. Dancers played cards backstage with cigarettes hanging jauntily on their lips while stretched in languid poses on the carpet. Okay that’s a lie. We really just fooled around and ran through our dances. Despite the laid-back atmosphere of the first few weeks, the Wednesday before the show came along faster than we expected. We put on costumes and makeup and, suddenly, that magical feeling seized us. Okay that’s the truth. There is something to be said for a large group of students coming together, putting it to the man, and saying “Hey. We don’t care about homework. We don’t care about sleep.” And instead of concentrating on all of the things we are told to concentrate on, we danced. We expressed ourselves with movement. The energy and determination every act put into the show was evident in the successful final performance. I can say that all the angry teachers and circles under my eyes were worth it. Definitely. Molly Shoemaker ’08 Stage Manager Working backstage at a dance show, or any show for that matter, is kind of like babysitting an army of five-year-olds. You have to take charge of a group that thinks it knows how to take care of itself. As stage manager, it was my job to make sure things ran smoothly backstage. I had three tech crew members at my charge: Andrew Richardson ’08 running the soundboard, Mike Kaluzny ’09 running the light board and Gloria Odusote ’09 as the assistant stage manager. Together we controlled all technical aspects of the show. Since Dance Open was a dance show, there were a lot more song and light cues than there would be in an average play. We all had to memorize which cue happened when in relation to the music and the number of dancers on stage at the time. If we messed up the light or music cues, it would be very hard for dancers to improvise in the way that actors could if in a similar situation. Thus, it was key that the entire tech crew was alert and up-to-date on information at all times. We worked very closely with the director, Farah Dahya ’08, and the faculty mentor, Erin Strong, to ensure that everything ran smoothly. This was my first time working with such a large cast (there were approximately 70 dancers involved) and it was fabulous. I have never worked with a cast more diverse and engaging than the cast of the 2007 Dance Open. Mary Doyle ’08 Choreographer The Dance Open is a manifestation of all that I love about Andover: the diversity of thought, the loud form of expression, and a cast pulling from every niche of our campus. After four sold-out shows and a fabulous tech week, it is clear to many of us that Dance Open 2007 has exceeded past years’ productions. In early December, about 20 students, representing all four classes, assumed the role of choreographer and auditioned a group of nearly 70 students. The dancers and choreographers ranged from advanced ballet students to first-time performers. Then, we chose a self-prescribed number of students to work with, and final casting decisions were posted just before Winter Break. It is an awesome experience to be working with such an assorted group of my peers. As choreographers, we attended a workshop held by Instructor in Dance Erin Strong and dedicated time to identifying our own inspirations for the piece we created. We identified the aspects of ourselves that were reflected in our individual works. This occurred in early January, and helped many of us to re-focus our dances as they really began to take shape. The Dance Open is a student-run production with incredible freedom granted to each choreographer. The student members of the Dance Committee took an active role in checking-in with choreographers and giving guidance and critiques. Using the exercise with Ms. Strong as reference, choreographers chose one quote that inspired their pieces. The passages were then recorded and played in the dark silence between each piece. These quotes were a fantastic addition to this year’s show. Farah Dahya ’08 Director The Dance Open process began all the way back in November, when students interested in choreographing submitted applications explaining their ideas and inspiration for creating their pieces. Before winter break, we held auditions, open to dancers of all levels and various styles of training. The choreographers selected the dancers that best suited the mood of their piece, while my mentor Ms. Strong and I ensured that most dancers had a chance to participate in the process. After winter break, we got straight to work. Ms. Strong held a workshop for the choreographers, incorporating exercises that challenged us all to break away from conventional ideas. We learned how to use space effectively and play on certain rhythms. With our choreographers equipped with this knowledge, we let them work with their dancers under the guidance of myself and members of the Dance Committee. In mid-January, we held yet another set of auditions. This time however, the actual pieces were auditioning to be in the show. Eighteen solid acts made it into the show, and each of them worked off of each other to produce a masterpiece. I decided to incorporate a common theme among all of the dances for this year’s show. My theme? Inspiration. Choreographers had some sort of quote, rhythm or lyric that particularly inspired the movement of their pieces. As the director, my role in the show was basically to coordinate everything that had to do with the dances. It was a fulfilling duty, and although it was hectic at times, I really enjoyed getting to know everyone in the show and organizing the process. So, before each piece performed, we played a recording of each inspiration. In retrospect, this year’s Dance Open was a great success! With four packed houses and a waiting line crowding Steinbach Lobby, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the show was a hit.