Pan Athletic Center Hosts 2023 Dance Open For the First Time

Dance Open performs for the first time in Pan Athletic Center.

Dance Yuliya Solyanyk ’23 performs alongside fellow dancers.

Dancers perform a piece called “Head in the Clouds”.

The song “囍” (Xi) by Chinese artist Ge Dongqi echoed through the Abbot Academy Dance Suite in the brand-new Pan Athletic Center as two figures, dressed in translucent red robes, communicated with each other through their gestures. Finally, the lights dimmed on the duo as they fell into their ending poses.

Featuring student-choreographed dance groups, dance clubs, and soloist dancers, the annual Dance Open allows students to express themselves and their art in a welcoming environment, surrounded by friends, peers, and teachers. This year, Dance Open switched venues from the Steinbach Theatre in George Washington Hall to the new facility in the Pan Athletic Center. Dancer Yulia Solyanyk ’23 reflected on her experience in transitioning into a new space.

“That was very scary for me in the way that I realized the responsibility of opening the first ever show in Pan, and building the history at Andover… Because it is only my second year at Andover, every studio felt so new to me, but the Pan Center, the size of the stage is amazing, in terms of having the space to move,” said Solyanyk.

Dancer Adele Ciociola ’25 also highlighted how the new venue allowed closer proximity to the audience as well as allowed for multiple streams of the performance outside of the main stage, which played live on mounted televisions.

“It was fun to see people actually outside, and watching on the TVs, and all the energy that was in the audience was really nice… I feel like [Pan] is a more intimate setting because you are a lot closer to the people… I just feel like it’s nice when the audience is that close to you because it is more of an interactive experience, and there’s more energy being exchanged between the audience and the performers,” said Ciociola.

Jill Thompson, Director of Admissions, discussed her appreciation for the performance, especially the new genres of dance that were showcased this year. She explained her thoughts on the level of talent and variety of dances that the show has to offer.

“I thought it was really neat that there was a Bollywood dance because I don’t think that has been in the Dance Open, at least from my recollection, in recent years… I try to go and watch as many dance shows as I can… I always love to bring my kids, because they really appreciate seeing all of the talent in the community,” said Thompson.

Due to the show being entirely choreographed by students, several performers stated that their choreographing and teamwork skills improved throughout the preparation process. Solyanyk explained that although there were several challenges in choreographing, she was able to learn as a dancer through interacting with her dance crew and coordinating the various components of the performance.

“I remember… for example, on the same eight counts of music, and not knowing what to do next, what choreography to put there for weeks in a row… you can do nothing but just wait for moments when you just wake up in the middle of the night and have this flash of inspiration to put the choreography together… You learn to… interact with tech crew, and learn how to get the right lighting, how to cut the music, how to rush through your choreography to meet all of the Dance Open check-ins, and get your choreography to actually be presented on stage,” said Solyanyk.

According to audience member Magnus Julin ’25, the success of the show was largely attributed to the audience engagement. He explained the excitement of watching his peers express themselves through dance and cheering with his friends.

“It was also great to see how supportive the PA community was; the crowd was always cheering and engaged and even the other dance clubs were cheering people on from behind the stage. Additionally, I had never seen the Pan dance studios before, so the show gave a great opportunity to students outside of dance to see the facilities,” wrote Julin in an email to The Phillipian.