Dance concert features flashback performances


Laney Chang

Terpsichore and Caprice III rehearse D-Hall, a hip-hop piece choreographed by guest choreographer T’Noya Thompson-Gonzales.

Ashley Yen, Staff Writer

Three years ago, Emily Feng, now a senior, twirled around the stage of the VST as she danced to “Castle” by Halsey. This year, Feng will be watching an entirely different group of dancers perform and interpret the piece.

The Upper School Dance Concert, Flashbacks and Favorites, will be performed on April 26 and 27 at 7:30 in the Lowe Theater and will feature favorite dances performed in the past.

“When planning our concert, we try to think of ideas and concepts that are fresh and creative,” dance teacher Heidi Arouty said. “Once a concept is determined, dances are then created with this in mind making the show thematic and seamless. This year we wanted to take a trip down memory lane and reflect on dances from the past, dances that audiences remembered and enjoyed.”  

Guest choreographers Terrill Mitchell, Jennifer Mabus, Elijah Gibson and T’Noya Thompson-Gonzales were originally asked to pick their favorite pieces from the past for students to perform.

“The guest choreographers we bring in are some of the top choreographers in the dance industry today,” dance teacher Dorrell Martin said. “It’s great for the students to work with those great artists, people who have been working in the business for so long.”

The concert will feature a variety of dance styles, including Bollywood, contemporary jazz, lyrical and hip hop, in performances by Terpsichore, Caprice III, Caprice II and Caprice I.

“There’s a nice variety in the show,” Martin said. “You’re going to see a lot of dance styles from jazz, tap, hip hop and contemporary dance.”  

The choreographers adjusted original dances to fit the dancers’ personalities and skills in each class.

Every choreographed work has both old and new elements,” dance teacher Victoria Arizpe said. “Performing dances again just gives you a fresh eye on your choreography.”

When she was in eighth grade, Feng saw Upper School dancers perform “Hadippa,” which Feng will perform this year with Terpsichore.

“When I saw the dancers perform ‘Hadippa,’ I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Feng said. “It’s so crazy that I get to be in this dance that I once revered.”

Martin’s life-time experience in dance has evolved from a very technical and disciplined art to contemporary dance, a mixture of every dance style.

“Dance today, it’s a bit more free for all,” Martin said. “It’s hip hop, modern and jazz dance all combined. Dance right now is a big melting pot ranging from social dance, acrobatics movement to classical dance styles.”

According to Arizpe, dance has always been a constant in her life.

Dance allows people to express themselves and shine in a different way,” she said. “Hopefully, I can share what dance means to me with my students.”

For Caprice II member Dian Yu, dancing serves as an outlet for her to escape reality. Yu, a freshman, notices that when she has an upcoming test or is feeling stressed, dance allows her to forget about everything else.

“Dance completely takes you to another world from the stress at St. John’s,” Yu said. “I just focus on dancing, and it feels great to express all your emotions that you can’t really get out in another way.”