Developing Dancers Convey Themes of Family and Friendship

A bright light shined in the modern dance studio as six dancers dressed in flowing green dresses huddled into circles to represent the idea of being “Tied Up.”

Last Friday, ANDance, Andover’s newest dance group, took to the stage of the modern dance studio to show not only their physical strength and technical ability, but also also a wide variety of emotions.

Formed this year, ANDance is an audition-based club created specifically for dancers who are working their way towards Andover Dance Group, Andover’s most demanding dance troupe. The club holds rehearsals once a week and performs for the Andover community once a term. ANDance consists of members Elizabeth Rao ’14, Michaela Barczak ’15, Sofia Valenzuela ’15, Victoria Bian ’15, Ada Li ’15 and Nicole Durrett ’17.

In their first big showcase of the year, ANDance presented three dances that featured fresh choreography, vivid costumes and music that ranged from playful Latin-influenced music to a jazz soundtrack.

“Tied Up,” their first piece, was choreographed by Erin Strong, Instructor and Chair in Theatre and Dance. The dancers began the performance holding hands and leaping from corner to corner. Then, the performance dramatically switched gears as the music transformed to a Latin-influenced beat. The dance ended with the dancers huddling into a circle and falling to the ground.

The next dance, “The Point of It,” was choreographed by Judith Wombwell, Instructor in Theatre and Dance. This routine was the group’s main project of the year.

“[‘The Point of It’ showed] the power of friendship,” said Rao. “We were trying to convey the insecurities and issues cause by gossip. The dance was our most difficult and the longest, but also really brought us together as a group.”

As the lights slowly turned on, five dancers were crouched with their backs facing the audience. Two by two, the dancers frowned as they stood up with their arms crossed and their feet tapping slowly against the floor. The dancers leapt across the stage to whisper into each others’ ears. After receiving a whisper, each dancer glared at other members on the stage.

“The idea was that each of us had a secret,” said Durrett. “We started out in the first half of the piece being friendly. Some of us trusted others with secrets, but the secrets were told to other people.”

“It was about the social dynamics at Andover,” said Valenzuela. “It showed how quickly there is a spread of rumors.”

Halfway into the routine, there was a quick transformation as the music changed from a calm, acoustic piece to a vibrant tango. The girls went from a dramatic environment of spreading “rumors” to an energetic dance where the girls held hands and hugged to represent coming together as a whole.

“I wanted to convey the feeling of living and working with your friends,” said Wombwell. “Sometimes, it feels great. [Even though] rumors can fly and it can get very tense, … there is always a big resolution.”

The last routine, a flirtatious and playful number titled “September,” was based on the funk song by the band Earth, Wind and Fire. Wombwell also choreographed this routine.

In sets of two, dancers walked onto the stage to perform a series of spins and leaps. Their enthusiasm was evident as each dancer held a smile on her face throughout the dance. Receiving a standing ovation, this dance proved to be a crowd favorite.

“The last dance was very different from the other ones that we have done in ANDance,” said Li. “It was so fun to show the sassy and jazzy side of us as a group. It will definitely be one of my favorite memories from ANDance this year.”

With a look of full concentration on her face, Barczak performed an energetic solo to end the routine.

“I felt really lucky to have a solo in [‘September,’]” said Barczak. “Ms. Wombwell had asked us what type of dance we wanted, and we all unanimously said jazz. It was a high energy dance that let us show our personality… and had a light-hearted spirit that we wanted to convey.”

As the only Junior in ANDance, Durrett explained the community aspect of the group.

“ANDance is a very nurturing community,” said Durrett. “It’s not only a preparatory group for dance, but also for the rest of Andover. I was practically adopted by the rest of the girls in ANDance, and now I’ve never felt more at home.”