Andover Dance Group Expands Repertoire at Dance Festival in Wisconsin

Aside from taking dance workshops with other high school students, members of the Andover Dance Group performed the piece “In A Dark Time.”

Standing in formation under a singular spotlight, dancers mimicked the hands of a clock in a representation of the passage of time. In sync with the music, the group separated in half, leaving Yishu Chen ’19 alone onstage. The piece, called “In A Dark Time,” was choreographed by Judith Wombwell, Instructor and Chair in Theatre and Dance, and Alice Tang ’18.  The group performed this dance last spring.

Over spring break, Andover Dance Group (A.D.G.) traveled to the Regional High School Dance Festival in Wisconsin. In addition to performing “In A Dark Time,” A.D.G. participated in various dance workshops during the festival. Layomi Oloritun ’20 and Uanne Chang ’20 also performed a duet called “Pas de Deux,” a piece featured in the 2019 Dance Open at Andover.

In an email to The Phillipian, dancer Katherine Wang ’21 wrote that the festival was a new experience for the group, in that it presented an opportunity to learn different styles of dance and collaborate with others.

“This was A.D.G.’s first time going to the Regional High School Dance Festival, so we were a bit unsure of what to expect. I was interested in this unique opportunity to meet high school dancers from around the country and participate in classes I don’t normally take,” wrote Wang.

“I went into the trip not really knowing what it was going to be about. I knew we were going to take some classes of some sort and perform our piece, but I didn’t really have many expectations other than that,” added dancer Sophie Liu ’20.

The classes offered at the festival covered a diverse range of styles, including ballet, contemporary, modern, African, pointe, pas de deux, and contact improvisation.

“[I was challenged] through dancing and taking classes in all different styles; I took three hip hop classes and three African classes, which I never expected to take, [that] challenged me physically. Also, the volume of the classes we were taking [was challenging]; we took six and a half hours of classes every day, so that was pretty physically demanding,” said Liu.

According to Wombwell, the challenging nature of the dance classes meant that participating in the program required a certain level of open-mindedness and initiative.

“My expectations for my dancers are that they be open and brave and challenge themselves. I knew they would be wonderful, over-the-top participants in this programs which meant that they took all sorts of classes that they had never been exposed to before… The purpose of the trip was to challenge [the dancers] so they can see what dance is like in other high schools, [as well as] get out of the Andover and even the prep school circuit,” said Wombwell.

For Wang, she enjoyed having the opportunity to watch others perform and meet dancers outside of the Andover bubble. The program not only facilitated connections between high school dancers, but also between A.D.G. and professional dancers.

“Watching the performances each night was also incredibly inspiring to me both as a dancer and choreographer because I got to see a professional modern dance company perform, as well as other pieces by the schools attending the festival, some of which were choreographed by students. It was also a great networking experience because I got to meet with dancers and schools from around the country and different dance backgrounds,” said Wang.

According to Wombwell, the festival left her inspired and excited for the coming term.

“I think it gives [the dancers] a new appreciation for what dance is and I’ll work harder in class. I came out of there inspired to push them a little bit more, to drive them a little bit more. I think they would understand why I’m doing that because they saw what’s capable when they work a little harder,” said Wombwell.