I’ve danced in College Prep’s student-run CHOREO Series for two years, and I’m constantly astounded by these high schoolers who choreograph brilliant, complex pieces. I decided to interview the student choreographers and directors of CHOREO Series to find out more about how they put together their stunning performances.
Audrey and Sonia, the co-directors explained, “This year, we have 14 choreographers who will be sharing with us a diverse slate of dances, ranging from hip hop to Zumba to Chinese dance to modern. We are so proud of and grateful for the talent and energy of our choreographers, who have put a ton of creative thought and hard work into their pieces. We are also extremely grateful to the many students who will be generously supporting the show through their dancing, technical staging, music, and photography/videography.”
“As directors, we oversee all aspects of the production, including managing choreographer rehearsal schedules, providing choreographers administrative support, arranging photography and tech support, handling communications and publicity, and emceeing and designing the format of the show.”
Dancing in CHOREO Series is truly a unique experience, different from performing in the annual Dance Show – the dancers give up lunches, Faculty Collaborations, and Common Classrooms in return for a more close-knit and communal dance experience. Although Dance Show is also immensely rewarding, it’s a different experience. In CHOREO, we students contribute more to the overall process, and thus get to own the choreography much more.
You heard some short descriptions of the dances during the Common Classroom performance, but I talked to some choreographers back in November about their process. Some dances have changed and evolved more than others, but most have retained their central themes and messages. Here are some of the choreographers’ thoughts:
My dance is called “Coming Home,” and it uses the song “Coming Home” by the Kpop group JJProject. I really liked the ongoing bass in the song and the clicks and sharp sounds. Using those sounds and the name as a basis, my dance tries to capture the warm, fuzzy, and heart-fluttering feeling you get when you encounter someone, something, or somewhere familiar. My dance style is a mixture of modern, ballet, and Chinese dance. I tried making the dance feel very light and easy to represent how comfortable you feel with that familiar thing.
Over the summer I started going to Zumba classes with my mom. In these classes, through dancing with women and men of all ages, I started to realize that dance didn’t necessarily need to encompass formal training. I learned to dance not only for myself, but to have fun.
“Seguimos Bailando” is a dance that I choreographed to try and channel my experience to students at CPS. It is a dance about letting go of hesitation in order to come together with people of different backgrounds, and let dance carry you away into another world.
Maggie and Cora
“Medicine” is about what it’s like to be overwhelmingly connected with someone and how that can bring about unimaginable love as well as intense agony. We drew on experiences from our own friendship and used sharp movements contrasting with softness to portray what it’s like to find a balance in a fierce friendship. One of the hardest parts of our piece was trying to use guest dancers (which didn’t end up working because of schedules). One of the most rewarding aspects of choreographing together was getting to spend our last CHOREO Series working together and exploring how our dance styles mesh. We’ve focused on picking specific movements to convey the story.
My dance is called “Technicolor Beat,” to the song by Oh Wonder of the same name. I tried to show the theme of friendship in this dance, since I’m performing the dance with one of my best friends. The dance has a set story where my friend and I have a fight partway through, and shows that even though friends sometimes disagree, they always make it up in the end. I was inspired by my daily interactions with my friends and how much I love them. In choreographing this dance, it was hard to not make too many empty spaces in the music and to stay focused when rehearsing with a friend. However, the entire choreography process has been really fun and I’ve loved presenting my creativity to others.
Anthony and Iris
Iris and I choreographed and staged a Chinese style duet which we titled “天地之间”, which translates to “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth.” We focused on two main themes/feelings when putting this piece together, namely the happiness of being together and the longing for each other when separated. We also used many nature inspired movements in our dance to give it both airy, delicate movements as well as powerful, dynamic shapes.
In terms of my dance, the title is TBD, but it’s a contemporary piece to the song “Winter” by Khalid. I chose the music first and worked my way from there, which means my piece is definitely more musical rather storytelling-y. To me, dance is a number of things, including the physical representation of music, so that’s kind of what I was going for. I like to tell my dancers to let the music guide them. Dance first, think later!