This Saturday April 29, 2017, about 60 upper school dancers will take the stage in Oates Theater to perform the one and only Upper School Collegiate Dance Concert. With a matinee at 3:00 p.m. and an evening show at 7:30 p.m., audiences have not one, but two chances to come watch their friends perform for the low cost of $6.
Up until this year, the concert had been divided into a 3rd-12th grade concert in the afternoon and an evening concert featuring 8th-12th grade dancers with a few student-choreographed pieces. However, as the Upper School dance program has expanded into four different sections, dance teachers Kara Priddy and Stacy Dudley decided that one concert would not cover the broad range of pieces each section has worked on. Now, both dance concerts feature strictly upper schoolers, and each concert program is eighteen pieces long. The only different between the concerts are the four student-choreographed pieces in each concert.
In order for this dance concert on Saturday to happen, both dancers and teachers have been working towards creating three or four performance-ready pieces since September. In addition to all of the work that goes on during the eight months leading up to the show, this past week leading up to the show has required additional practices two to three nights for each dance student.
Known as “tech week,” each dance must be “tech-ed,” or spaced out, assigned lighting patterns, and rehearsed on the Oates stage before it is finally performance ready. While the pieces always look put together in the dance studio, thanks to theater managers Jon Shelley and Zach Townsend and Director of Performing Arts Mike Boyd, they truly come together into something beautiful during tech week on the stage. Tech week rehearsals are always long and trying but pay off in the end. As Lloyd Woods (‘19) says, “tech week is very busy and stressful. It’s fun because you are together with all your friends and performing in assembly is fun, but it’s definitely a stressful time.” Lauren Lynch (‘18) agrees, saying “I have a ton of work to do this week, especially with APs coming up. But I always manage to get it done, and dancing with my friends in Oates is always a great time.”
This year’s concert kicks off with a piece entitled “Movement Union.” Lizzie Turner (‘18) claims this dance is her favorite to perform. This piece, choreographed by Priddy, is performed by the Dance 360 C period class in tandem with members of the Upper School jazz band on the instruments. The song for the piece, “Sleeper,” was originally played during assembly on January 30th for their Winter Jazz Concert preview. This piece was also featured in the dance concert preview during the Upper School assembly on Thursday, April 27th. Turner says this piece is her favorite because “it brings new connections with art between the jazz band and the dance programs. The movement is also unique and challenging; it is unlike any other piece we will perform. The costumes are also pretty great.”
Another piece in this years concert is “On Watch,” (my sister) Virginia Angle’s (‘20) favorite piece. This is one of Dance 180 A’s three pieces. Angle says “On Watch,” choreographed by Dudley, is about “crows and how they always seem to be watching.” It is her favorite piece because “it’s really eerie and intense. Basically, we are the crows, and we get to incorporate crow-like movements and hand shapes into our dancing, which is totally new and fun for us.”
Other pieces in the concert include comedy, hip hop, jazz, musical theater, very intense pieces, happy pieces, dark and twisted pieces. The concert as a whole is very “versatile,” as Priddy describes it. In spite of its versatility, the common theme among each piece in the concert, according to Priddy, is that they are all “professional, passionate, and physical.”
In the words of Dudley, “this concert would be tragic to miss.” The concert is only older students, and, as Priddy says, is “just so strong. The dancers are so mature, so committed, and dedicated to their performance, and just passionate about dance in general. This is the most professional concert we’ve had thus far, the professionalism is just so heightened.” Cheap tickets, comfortable Oates seating, mind blowing choreography: what’s not to like?