Dance Open Kicks Off Grandparents’ Weekend

Last weekend, dancers of all grades and styles came together at Dance Open, a student-choreographed show featuring a range of performances from ballet to step. Graham Johns ’14 and Madeleine Silva ’13 directed the event.

This year’s Dance Open was more successful than last year’s, with increased attendance that completely packed Steinbach Theater on both Friday and Saturday.

“We’re so glad we could find it, and that they had room for us,” said Phyllis Blum and Gordon Salganik, grandparents of Ellie Blum ’15 who almost did not get seats for the show. “The dancers were incredible, and we’re happy that we were there to watch it!”

SLAM, Andover’s step team, kicked off the show with a dramatic piece, complete with pulsing lights. Loud, resounding and in perfect unison, members of SLAM stepped to the powerful music in crisp white button-downs and white sneakers.

“It’s a lot of work,” said Unwana Abasi ’13, co-head of SLAM. “SLAM has been preparing since the first week of the term. I would say we were all a little more nervous earlier this week. At this point, we’re all just excited. It’s just a matter of getting the shows out to the audience, which is a ton of fun for everyone.”

The show transitioned to a slower pace when Emily Ewing ’14, Marion Kudla ’15 and Rolando Bonachea ’13 performed “Same Love” by Macklemore, a piece choreographed by Suzanne Wang ’13. The gentle performance told the touching story of two young lovers separated by a third party. Stirring, emotional and graceful, the dance embodied and projected a story of love, perseverance and patience.

Next was a dance choreographed by Abrianna Meyer ’14 to “Lighthouse” by Hope. Eight student dancers dressed in matching dark teal dresses descended upon the stage in groups of four. The choice of costume and the fluidity of the dancers’ movement conveyed the touching emotions of the piece.

“It was incredible. There was such a broad display of talent, and you could tell everyone was giving their all. There was obviously a genuine passion that all the dancers shared,” said EJ Kim ’15.

Hypnotiq, Andover’s hip hop dance group, performed a well-received dance. Choreographed by Abasi, Thomi Pamplin ’14 and Jenny Zeng ’13, the intense and aggressive dance told the love story of star-crossed lovers played by Robert Rush ’14 and Jada Sanchez ’15.

“Hypnotiq’s dance was really unique and entertaining. They all got so into it, and they really embodied their characters; every single dancer was so passionate. Altogether, it was really, really cool to watch,” said Corinne Singer ’15.

Members of Footnotes, Andover’s tap dancing troupe, dressed in collared shirts and colorful ties and staged a work scene for their dance, “A Day in the Office.” The choreography was accompanied solely by Microsoft Windows sound effects.

Other acts included “A Study in Opal,” choreographed by Johns and performed by Kudla and Lizzie McGonagle ’16, and performances by Johns and Rochelle Wilbun ’13 to “Hummingbird” by Alex Clare. Blue Strut, Andover’s jazz dance group, also performed to “Tighten Up” by The Black Keys which served as an entertaining close to the show.

Unlike previous dances, “A Study in Opal” was choreographed to one of Frederic Chopin’s classical masterpieces. Despite the short duration of the performance, Kudla and McGonagle executed the highly-technical dance with fluid synchronicity.

At the end of the show, many audience members were in awe of Johns and Wilbun’s performance of “Hummingbird.” The two complemented each other in their mastery of the dance. The dimly-lit stage and the urgent feel of the music made the choreography more dramatic and memorable.

Prior to the show, nerves, anticipation, and excitement dominated the backstage of Dance Open as the dancers rushed to prepare and warm up.

“It’s a little scary performing as a freshman,” said Claire Tellekson-Flash ’16. “But I think it’s a bit scary no matter what.”