A Story of Movement: WHS Dance Show

Clara Chin, Staff Writer

Not all stories can be told with words. That’s how the West High School Dance Department chose the theme for this year’s show— “Once Upon a Dancer,” based on the phrase “Once Upon a Time.”

On Friday, January 9th and Saturday, January 10th, the West High School Dance Team put on their winter concert, “Once Upon a Dancer” at the Armstrong Theatre. According to Artistic Director Leilei Shao (12), this year’s winter show was all about telling a story. This whimsical theme was incorporated across a wide range of genres, including hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary. All three levels of dance at West High School (Beginning, Intermediate, and advanced) performed, in addition to the West High Choreo Club Board Members.

The show included music by pop artists like Meghan Trainor and Sam Smith, as well as instrumental music by The Balanescu Quartet and rappers like Pitbull. Some numbers had as few as six performers, while others boasted an entire thirty-two dancers. Costumes included pastel leotards and black combat boots, white dress shirts and flowing dresses.

The theater was filled with energy throughout the entire show. The audience roared while choreo club members flipped and jumped with extreme intensity to a dance called “Whaat?!.” They sat in captivated silence in quieter pieces like “Hometown,” in which dancers swept across the floor with lyrical vulnerability. They cheered for quirky pieces like “Carousel” as the dancers kicked their legs with gusto. Airgrams, short messages to the dancers read between pieces, also showed the audience’s enthusiasm. Messages included “shake what your mother gave you” and “break a leg.”

Audience member Grace Petersen (9) said, “I liked seeing my friends dance. The airgrams were really cute, but I didn’t send any because they were all full by the time I got here.”

Not only was the audience filled with joy and support, but the dancers were too. According to Shao, “The most rewarding part is getting to perform with your friends and cheering them on!” After spending countless hours rehearsing together, including one grueling tech rehearsal from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, it is no wonder that the dancers have bonded and formed a sort of second family.

“Sometimes we’ll go out to eat and that’s always nice but we bond a lot just being on the same team. I love my intermediate girls,” said Nicole Hyder (12), an intermediate dancer. The dancers eat together, perform together, and even vote for dances together.

As first-time viewers, the audience only gets two hours to be dazzled. Though the show is relatively long, it is nothing compared to all the work that goes into it. The dancers practice in class every day as well as during afterschool rehearsals.

“After all of them are taught, we start cleaning them…Little details make everything a whole lot cleaner when everyone does the same thing,” said Hyder.

The dancers work out all of the minor details so that all the audience sees is a single, cohesive show. Through hard work, team effort, and a passion for dance, the West High Dance Department wowed its audience with a cohesive, dynamic showcase.