Dance Open Showcases Student Talent and Fosters a Sense of Community within the Dance Department

The annual Dance Open production gave students, such as Trevor Moss ’23 and Katherine Wang ’21 (pictured above), the opportunity to express themselves without the constraint of a theme.

Awash in the red stage lights, Alexandra Koch-Liu ’22 held out an arm to fellow performer Victoria Zhou ’22. As Koch-Liu lifted her, Zhou lept suddenly into the air, curving her legs back just as the background music swelled. Their hard-hitting movements echoed the pulsing beat of 2WEI’s song “Survivor.” The pair, along with fifteen other independent and group acts, performed in three Dance Open performances this past weekend.

According to Zhou, Dance Open serves as an opportunity for dancers on campus to showcase their creativity.

“I think it’s important to let students show their creativity and do what they want with dance… In classes, we do technique… and it’s very one way. You can’t really make it your own thing. But in Dance Open you can literally do anything you want and no one can call you out for it, because you’re not wrong,” said Zhou.

Audience member Henry Crater ’20 remarked how the student-directed show highlighted the performers’ skills and talent. He noted the perceived difficulty of Footnotes’ performance specifically.

“I see the formations, and all the technical work that actually has to go into arranging a complicated tap song like that… It’s easy to kind of let it pass you by and miss it, without noticing all the details and other stuff that’s brought into it,” said Crater.

In an email with The Phillipian, Azi Jones ’21, who co-directed the Dance Open production with Katherine Wang ’21, explained that she wanted to ensure that both performers and audience members enjoyed the experience.

“I think we functioned very well as a community—everyone was so excited to be in the space and see all the talent of the other acts… My only goal was to produce a show that everyone would enjoy watching and that everyone would enjoy doing,” said Jones.

Anntonia Taylor ’20 performed with Footnotes, Hyponotiq, and in a duet with Wang. As she prepares to graduate from Andover, Taylor aimed to explore the thought of her leaving and her relationship with Wang during their performance together.

“[The performance] is about me leaving her. And while it is sad, it is also about how we were able to teach each other stuff along the way. And we were able to have a lot of good times. So while it’s sad that I’m leaving, we help each other grow as people,” said Taylor.

Taylor reflected more broadly about her role as mentor to the underclassmen dancers as well. She appreciated the performance energy of her fellow Seniors, and hoped that those who follow her will have a similar experience in the Dance Department as she did.

“I’m here to enjoy [Dance Open]. But it’s also kind of like passing the baton and these kids are now in the same footsteps that I was in when I was a freshman. So I’m just really hoping that they get the same experience that I have, and that they have the same love for this by the end of the day,” said Taylor.