Dancers Encapsulate Emotions of Catharsis Through Three-Piece Performance “Exalted”

As the lights dimmed in the Tang Theater, three slender figures towered over the audience. Dressed in all-black costumes, dancers of “Ceiling, Sky” opened the “Exalted” dance performance. Performing solos and duets, the dancers communicated with the audience through expressive movements and facial expressions. One of the dancers, Ivy Randall ’25, explained the creative process leading up to this performance last weekend.

“We met during class periods and a few times after school and started out with a bunch of writing prompts. We would write short paragraphs about personal experiences and come up with improvisations based on them. This included movements that incorporated some of the words in our paragraphs and the stories that we were telling. We later wove these movements into our solos and duets,” Randall said.

Because “Ceiling, Sky” included students’ own choreography, Minh-Khue Doba ’24 reflected that the piece allowed each dancer to convey their own interpretations of the theme of grief.

“The first part was about the emotional aspect of ripping away or being torn away from their emotions: like people being torn away from family,” Doba said.

Throughout the performance, the dancers delivered a multidimensional story and communicated a wide range of emotions, from addressing grief and loss to enacting euphoria. According to Kareem Lewis, Instructor of Dance, whereas the first piece communicated the emotional aspect of ripping away, the second fostered a relatively light-hearted atmosphere.

“A lot of the inspiration behind the [second] dance was sort of the title of the show, ‘Exalted,’ sort of extreme happiness and moving together as a unit and presenting a unified purpose and movement to the audience,” said Lewis.

Stylistically, the second piece also differed from the first piece: “Ceiling, Sky” was performed in canon, while ‘Exalted’ required more teamwork and synchronization as many of the dancers performed in pairs. Dancer Ashley Park ’24 expressed her excitement for choreographing and forging new bonds with fellow dancers throughout the preparation process.

“In the second piece… we were all portraying a sense of togetherness, but also showing this ‘link’ with my partner on stage… A lot of the dancers I worked with for this show, I didn’t know that well prior. But working in duets… and coming up with new choreography together was just thrilling and exciting. Two-hour rehearsals after school and on the weekends have truly helped me bond with the dancers here,” said Park.

According to audience member Ella Kowal ’25, her favorite piece was the third and last piece, “The Nutcracker.” She especially enjoyed the theatrical aspects of the performance, such as the costumes that accompanied the dances. Kowal also noted how the dance show showcased different styles and levels of dances.

“I just liked watching everyone exhibit their strength and the versatility of their movements. It was just really impressive how coordinated everyone was and every dance was really just beautiful… I think what made the performance really unique is… [that] there were a lot of different styles of dance incorporated into this and it got a really good showing of every student’s different capabilities,” said Kowal.