WHS Dance Puts Their Heart and Soul Into Spring Show “20-21 And Done!”

Ending+the+school+year+with+a+Spring+Show%2C+West%E2%80%99s+Dance+Department+put+on+a+marvelous+performance+that+left+a+profound+and+meaningful+impact+on+the+virtual+audience.+A+member+of+Advanced+Dance+and+one+of+the+Teacher+Assistants+for+Beginning+Dance%2C+Hanna+Blair+%2812%29+expressed+how+%E2%80%9CIntermediate%27s+hip+hop+brought+an+instant+smile+to+my+face+while+the+Advanced+senior+soloists+brought+me+to+tears.%22

Art/Photo by Sullivan Kolakowski

Ending the school year with a Spring Show, West’s Dance Department put on a marvelous performance that left a profound and meaningful impact on the virtual audience. A member of Advanced Dance and one of the Teacher Assistants for Beginning Dance, Hanna Blair (12) expressed how “Intermediate’s hip hop brought an instant smile to my face while the Advanced senior soloists brought me to tears.”

Lauren Ng, Sports & Opinion Editor

   From gracefully executed leaps through the air to head-bopping hip hop moves, the West High Dance Department’s Spring Show had it all – and made both the dancers and the audience feel even more. At 7 p.m. on April 30th, “20-21 And Done!” was live-streamed on YouTube for hundreds of eager audience members to enjoy. 

   Each of the 14 dances – 13 of which were choreographed by students themselves –   brought something special to the performance plate, pre-recorded at unique locations with different videography techniques. While the Spring Show was joyous and electrifying for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced dancers alike, it also marked the end of an era: with one last performance, seniors said goodbye to the department.

   

Prepping for a Pristine Performance

   The persistent amount of effort required to produce a dance piece began many months before the show date. Annie Kim (11), a dancer on the Intermediate Team, co-choreographed an upbeat hip-hop piece along with fellow teammate Alice Lee (11). Kim described her process of choosing a song, one of the first of many decisions to be made for the dance: “We went through countless songs and even choreographed to a small section of songs, then decided not to use that song…You need to make sure the song isn’t monotone, has highs and lows, and is the type of style you are looking for.” In addition to fundamental aspects of the performance, choreographers also had to find ways to overcome the difficulties of teaching dances virtually. Learning choreography over Zoom poses a variety of difficulties, throwing obstacles at the Dance Department all year. The online platform impedes the ability of both dancers and those teaching choreography to see each other from head to toe.

   Further, most have been dancing at home since the start of the school year. Only recently have dancers who chose the Blended Learning model started coming to campus. Advanced Dancer Hanna Blair (12), who is also a Teacher Assistant for one of the Beginning Dance classes, noted that “most dancers are learning in limited spaces, like our bedrooms, and don’t have the space to leap and turn as we please.” 

   The secret to overcoming virtual obstacles? Communication. “Asking questions about even the littlest choreography details is the reason our pieces look so cohesive in the end,” Blair explained. Having a virtual show has necessitated every dancer to pay close attention to detail and spend even more time practicing their pieces individually.

   Unlike any shows prior to this school year, elements of videography came into play with each performance. Member of Advanced Dance and choreographer Cailey Umamoto (11) explained that dancers “put on full video productions at nearby parks and warehouses for these videos.” From local areas in Torrance to urban dance spaces in downtown Los Angeles, the department explored an exciting realm of creativity through their location choices.

Showtime!

   Choreographing, teaching, perfecting, filming, and editing are no easy feats; watching every dance in the final show made every effort worthwhile. As permitted by the Torrance Unified School District, Intermediate and Advanced Dance watched the livestream altogether in the West High Performing Arts Center while masked and socially-distanced. The special night provided dancers with their first opportunity of the year to meet some of their own teammates. With joy, tears, and laughter, they celebrated both the performances and the journeys of seniors during their time with the department.

   Kim and Lee’s energetic hip-hop piece for Intermediate Dance had the Performing Arts Center erupting in applause. “Hearing everyone scream and cheer every time a dance came up or a senior video came up made me really miss the times when we performed in person,” Kim expressed. Each of the 11 seniors in Advanced Dance created personalized slideshows highlighting their paths throughout the dance world, as well as some of their fondest memories. 

   The energetic levels of support and camaraderie were special to Umamoto as well: “The best part of the entire night was being able to cheer as loud as we could for our teammates from every level.” Umamoto’s team dance was a master class in musicality, showcasing individual dancers’ strength and power. Her jazz duet with Advanced Dance teammate Jasmine Tran (12) spotlighted not only the pair’s strong technical skills, but their confidence and empowerment stemming from dance. “I was so happy to be with the entire team on this special night and even though you couldn’t see me smiling through my mask, I couldn’t stop,” Umamoto recounted.

     Along with her fellow Teacher Assistants for Beginning Dance, Blair choreographed a piece that three dancers individually recorded for a fun trio. She expressed that 

“the beginners surprised me by how well rehearsed and confident they were with the piece.” As a senior, the Spring Show held extra sentimental value to Blair: “Although it was not how I originally pictured my last dance show of senior year, it was definitely one of the most memorable.”

   Click here to watch the Dance Department’s passionate Spring Show performances. Bop along to the catchy hip hop and jazz melodies, feel the emotions behind each contemporary piece, and enjoy the show.