From Swing to Slam

Restless students and parents lined the walls outside of Steinbach Theater this weekend as they waited for a seat at the Dance Open. The student-run Dance Open included novice to advanced dancers who performed over fifteen acts. The show’s performances moved through different generations and forms of dance, including swing dancing, hip-hop, modern, ballet, tap and Irish step dancing. Approximately 70 dancers and crew members were involved in making these performances a success. With three-hour rehearsals every night of last week, the dancers were dedicated to pulling off one of the biggest shows this term. “It was open to everyone who wanted to dance and to all different styles. I loved watching the wide variety of acts and dancers in the show,” said Melody Pao ’07. “All the choreographers grew artistically, and it was great seeing everyone come together and make the show happen,” explained the Dance Open’s director, Farah Dahya ’08. The show opened with a memorable and amusing tap dance set to the classic theme song from “Charlie Brown.” Dressed in white shirts and black pants, the dancers tapped light-heartedly to this familiar tune. Megumi Ishizuka’s ’08 performance stood out the most in this dance. She brought energy and personality to the act and kept a playful grin on her face throughout the entire number. The lights dimmed with the last notes of the song and the audience listened to a recording that introduced the next piece. Although the audience was initially confused about the nature of the recordings, they provided insight into the choreographer’s mind in a subtle yet humorous way. James Siddall ’07 and Abby Colella ’08 were up next and took the stage, dressed in old-fashioned costumes. Colella’s dress shined brightly in the light the two swing danced to “Go Daddy-O” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Combining drama and song, the duet showed how the love of dance could be expressed through both. Next, Cecelia Worthington ’08, Daisy Hoffman ’08, Annabel Graham ’08, Chris Massie ’10 slowly entered the stage in bright silver costume. With the help of the music and the dim red lighting, the dance cast an eerie feeling throughout the auditorium. The dancers moved across the stage in a very mysterious manner, but every move was carefully calculated and thought out. Although some of the dancers could not refrain from their laughter, the performance as a whole was successful. The next two acts involved a hip-hop dance and the first solo of the night. In the beginning of Maura Tousignant’s ’08 choreographed dance, the timing of some of the steps were off and the dancers had trouble staying in unison. But the original “puppeteer” move had the audience gasping in amazement. Mikaela Sanders ’08, another student choreographer, showed off a beautifully performed dance, clearly one of the best acts of the night. Blue dresses flowed in circles everywhere as the dancers gracefully moved across the stage. An aura of peaceful serenity filled the room as the shadows danced elegantly along the walls. Next, Olivia Wang ’07 portrayed a different style of cultural dance by combining kung fu with ballet and modern dance. Another culturally enriching dance was Kaite Estaba’s ’07 Irish step-dancing. “I never knew that Irish step-dancing could be that exciting,” commented Brianna McCarthy ’09. Estaba’s extravagantly colored costume kept the audience entertained. The next act was set to the well-known tune, “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. A mixture of novice and advanced dancers took the stage to dance playfully. Miguel Taverez’s ’08 huge smile filled the room and enhanced the dance as a whole. Although mistakes were noticeable, they were easily forgiven because of the childish and lively atmosphere that the dancers created. “It just made me feel so good!” Sally Poole ’08 laughed. The notable Andover Dance Group performed next. Casey Aylward ’09 danced alone, beginning a long story of love. She moved naturally as the other dancers joined her to create an engaging and stunning picture. A mysterious mood filled the air as the dancers moved in a mournful way. It was a professionally choreographed performance that the audience thought to be one of the best performances of the night. Following the short intermission, Hypnotiq took the stage as the audience applauded and screamed with delight. Dressed in yellow, their performance was strong because of their great use of the stage. Blue Strut, a recently created dance group, danced on a dimmed stage, emphasizing the figures made by the shadows. It was a solid performance that kept the dancers unified in a strong group. A puppet-like dance was consistent throughout the piece. Farah Dahya’s ’08 choreography shined brilliantly through the dancers and to the audience. SLAM was warmly welcomed as the audience cheered loudly and proudly for the dancers. Dressed in ties, the members of SLAM stepped to the familiar song, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. The audience cheered them on as a truly strong dance was performed. A fierce expression was present on all of their faces. The timing of every move was in perfect unison with the song. Surprisingly, it was a much more entertaining performance than their act in Grasshopper Night. SLAM ended the night with a strong piece. “We all worked extremely hard and pulled it off in a very short amount of time,” exclaimed Renee Amirault ’07. “My least favorite part was when it was all over.” Audience members left Steinbach Theatre with smiles on their faces and a new appreciation for the art of dance at Phillips Academy.