2023-2024 Dance Board Announced: Striving to Increase Accessibility in Andover Dance

Mia Pao ’24, Sarah Zhang ’24, Minh-Khue DoBa ’24, Carolina Tieppo ’24, Ashley Park ’24, and Jacob Kaiser ’24 are the new Dance Producer and Liaisons for the 2023-2024 school year.

Andover’s dance department announced the 2023-2024 Dance Board this week, which includes both Dance Producers and Club Liaisons. The new Producers are Ashley Park ’24, Jacob Kaiser ’24, Mia Pao ’24, and Minh-Khue DoBa ’24, and the new Liaisons include Carolina Tieppo ’24 and Sarah Zhang ’24.

Responsibilities of the new Producers include collaborating with faculty in the Dance and Theatre Department to direct Grasshopper and other performances. The Liaisons will be in charge of facilitating communication between Dance Club Co-Heads and faculty and overseeing studio scheduling. Kaiser discussed his overarching goal of unifying the dance department during his Dance Producer tenure.

“The role of the Dance Producer is to, in conjunction with the teachers, oversee and build upon the current dance program… One of my big goals for this year is to kind of unite the dance department, because there’s dance as a sport, and there are all the clubs and all of these separate entities, so we’re trying to kind of lead dance generally at Andover,” said Kaiser.

Having the experience of directing the winter term’s Dance Open, Park submitted her Dance Producer application in hopes of taking up more management roles in the dance community.

“Personally, I bring a lot of my leadership and communication skills. Obviously, we all bring our dance skills and backgrounds, but personally, I do think that my years of experience as a leader, board members, and even Co-Head for APAC (Asian Performing Arts Club) this year and next year can definitely help me create a sense of togetherness and teamwork that we hope to see in the near future,” said Park.

The Producers have many fond dance memories from previous years, and they hope to bring this energy into the new year with their leadership roles. Some highlights include grabbing dinner together or hanging out in the Susie’s after dance practices. Pao recalled her favorite dance memory.

“I think my most memorable dance memory here was auditioning for Blue Strut last year, it was really nerve-wracking because it was something I really, really wanted and I had to go up there and give it my all in front of everyone… It was really fun because the energy is really great at auditions, and finding out I got in and having another family to be a part of is just really great,” said Pao.

In addition, Park reflected on advice from the previous 2022-2023 Dance Producers. In particular, she highlighted the importance of communication and being proactive in such leadership roles, which she learned during her interview for the role.

“Communication is really key to becoming a good Producer because there are so many talented dancers at this school [that] it’s really hard to accommodate for each individual… I think being able to reach out first, ask questions, give ideas about some exciting events, and then bring them to our amazing pool of dancers is definitely important according to what the interviewers told me,” said Park.

One of the primary jobs of the Dance Producers is putting on Andover’s annual talent show Grasshopper, which they are very excited to produce next fall, especially from the new managerial position instead of the performing perspective. Additionally, the Producers organize Dance Open and Dance Labs each term. Pao discussed specific improvements to Andover’s dance program, such as dividing the dance as a sport option into separate levels to accommodate different skill levels.

“Right now, dance as a sport only has one level. It’s good in a way that it includes everyone, but it’s also unfair because more experienced dancers don’t get to have as tough of a training as they want. Beginner dancers might be put into classes that are too hard for them as well. I think we need to improve upon actually separating all the dancers, so everyone can have the best experience possible,” said Pao.

Additionally, DoBa reflected on why she initially applied for the position and what impact she wants to make on the Andover dance community.

“I really like being in the dance community. I like to have this inclusivity, especially when I was younger I didn’t have that much ability to be interacting with different dance styles so being a Dance Producer, I get the experience to learn a different style of dance and also to help other that didn’t have this opportunity before,” said DoBa.