Behind the scenes: dancers prepare for choreography showcase

In the weeks leading up to the Student Choreography Showcase, dancers squeezed in rehearsals in the VST dance studios, scrambling to finish and teach their choregraphies.

The showcase, known as STUCHO, allows St. John’s dancers to actively select the creative aspects of dance performances, such as lighting, set design, storytelling and the choreography itself. 

First-time choreographer Samara Moll appreciates the opportunity to try something new with her dance experience. Moll faced some difficulty creating unpredictable movements, but she pushed through the challenge. 

“I knew that this was always something I wanted to do as a senior, and I’m glad I stuck with it,” Moll said.

Since most choreographers and dancers know each other well, the dancers know how much effort has been put into the showcase. Freshman Isabella Gidi is enthusiastic about her friends’ choreographies coming to fruition.

“I’m excited to see the audience’s reaction to the effort and emotion that [the choreographers] have put into their dances,” Gidi said.

To give choreographers more time to hone their dances and reduce dancers’ workload at the end of the first semester, STUCHO will take place on Jan. 17 rather than the middle of December. As the performance date approaches, Gidi’s choreographers are scheduling more rehearsals to finalize details.

“It would have been a lot to handle if the performance was scheduled heading into mid-year exams,” Gidi said.

This year, Upper School dance teacher and STUCHO director Dorrell Martin restricted dancers to joining a maximum of three pieces. Terpsichore dancer Connie Yu feels that being in fewer choreographies allows her to concentrate on the details of her movement and better convey the messages of each piece.

Yu also says that the limit prevents backstage chaos and smooths out the performance. In past shows, the performances had to be ordered carefully so that dancers could change costumes between songs, but some dancers in five or six pieces still had to dress quickly.

Because Martin wanted to give students a professional choreographer’s experience, choreographers are not allowed to participate in their own pieces this year.

“Even though it was disappointing to not be part of my own dance at first,” Yu said, “staying out of my choreography was a good decision because I was able to see how various movements looked on my dancers from the audience’s perspective.”