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Dance department kicks off new year with annual student choreography showcase

Featuring performances from an array of musical and dance genres, this year’s STUCHO started 2024 with a bang. The show, held in the VST on Jan. 5, was packed with original and unconventional dances, choreographed by students from all four grade levels.

The Student Choreography Showcase is an annual dance performance where students have the opportunity to showcase innovation, creativity and style. Students design their own routines and recruit their peers to bring the choreography to life.

This year’s production showcased routines choreographed by seniors Addy McKenney and Gabby Saadia; juniors Amanda Frankfort and Kai Gomez; sophomores Patrick Tsang and Raka Agrawal and freshmen Alyssa Theofandis and Elisha Hasan.

The showcase began with a version of the alternative classic “Seven Nation Army” as juniors Elise DiPaolo, Amanda Frankfort, Rayna Kim and Genna Larsen emerged behind the curtain donning tap shoes and green cargo pants. Inspired by modern tap dancers, Tsang choreographed the hybrid opening number, fusing hip-hop into his tap number.

“I wanted to challenge myself and break the stereotype of classical tap,” Tsang said. “I feel that tap has evolved into something so much cooler.”

As the four juniors left the stage and the applause faded, a trio comprised of Gomez and seniors Kate Lu and Luciana Owsley entered the stage to perform a dance to a spoken word piece Billie Eilish. The dance, choreographed by Saadia, featured the three students physically supporting each other in front of a mirror, ending with Lu facing the mirror in a confident stance.

Warm light flooded the stage for the next piece, choreographed by Agrawal. The dance featured a jubilant jazz tempo as the dancers kicked and twirled across the stage in sparkling costumes to the song “Hot-and-Cold Case.”

As the song faded, the mood began to shift: dark, gloomy lights casted the stage while sophomores Lydia Huang and Tsang and juniors Larsen and Ryan Shen entered the stage.

Inspired by the 2000s western movie “Brokeback Mountain,” Gomez created “a romance between two duets.” The piece featured music by Orville Peck and displayed emotional moments between the four dancers.

“I took the feeling that the movie gives you and used that as inspiration,” Gomez said. “The movie is a very slow burn, and it’s a devastating story. I wanted it to capture the feeling of not being able to express who you really are.”

Once the applause for Gomez’s act faded, a trio of freshmen stepped onto the stage. Alyssa Al-Uqdah, Samantha Boyd and Theofanidis wore billowing red dresses, which flowed across the stage as they leapt and turned. The cool stage lighting, designed by sophomore Caroline Thompson, contrasted the dancers’ bright gowns. The contemporary number, choreographed by Hasan, featured a balance of sharp and flowy movements.

“I haven’t danced for a very long time, and I wanted to use the opportunity to try something new,” Hasan said. “I wanted my piece to be about growth, based on my growth in dance.”

Thirteen dancers then entered the stage as white light and brass flooded the VST. Sporting all black, the group performed a jazz number to “Feeling Good,” choreographed by McKenney. The dancers strutted across the stage and energized the crowd with dynamic poses and lifts.

“I wanted everyone to have a dance that they enjoyed performing,” McKenney said.

Choreographed by Frankfort, the next piece spread an eerie feel amongst the crowd as sophomore Caroline Basu entered the stage alongside sophomore Kenzie Chu, who flashed an intentionally unnerving smile and a doll-like bow.

As the dance began, Chu moved as if she was under Basu’s control, performing to the song “Dollhouse” by Melanie Martinez. During the middle of the dance, Chu dramatically gave Basu her bow,  signifying her taking control over the composition.

“I feel like the dance had an interesting storyline and I could really map out the feelings of my character,” Chu said.

The mood shifted as freshmen Al-Uqdah, Claire Chih, Hassan and Theofandis bounded onto the stage. They tied their hair back with star-spangled bandanas, and the dancers’ baggy silver pants refracted the stage lights as “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM” boomed in VST. The energetic hip hop dance, designed by Theofandis, featured sharp poses and movements that engaged the audience.

“It was a really fun piece,” Hasan said. “I don’t have any hip hop background, and I loved being exposed to a new style of dance.”

The showcase ended with the iconic senior performance “SKA,” choreographed by Saadia and McKenney. The dance featured a blend of music by Jennifer Lopez and ABBA to create an upbeat, energizing routine that captivated the audience.

The choreographers made a point to showcase all participating seniors as they performed in their last STUCHO showcase.

“It was bittersweet,” McKenney said. “I was thankful to be able to choreograph as opposed to other years when I’ve just been a dancer.”

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About the Contributors
Lee Monistere
Lee Monistere, Production Manager
Lee Monistere ('26) joined The Review in 2022 as a freshman. Her lucky numbers are 7, 2, and 9. Her last name has multiple pronunciations.
Eshna Das
Eshna Das, Online Section Editor
Eshna Das ('26) joined The Review in 2022 as a freshman.  She loves the color purple and has both a pet dog and a pet cat (no, they don't get along).
Horatio Wilcox
Horatio Wilcox, Staff Writer
Horatio Wilcox ('26) joined The Review in 2023 as a sophomore. His favorite women’s cricket team are the Belarusians. He is from New York but does not have an accent and will not say “Hey, I’m walking here.”

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