Danced Ever After: The Story Ends

Clara Chin, Staff Writer

Finishing a good story is bittersweet; the same could be said for “Danced Ever After,” the last full-scale dance show of the year for West High School’s Dance Department.

All three levels of advanced dance, plus Choreo Club, came together in creating “Danced Ever After” from May 5 through 7 at the Armstrong Theater in Torrance. The dancers covered a wide variety of styles from hard-hitting hip-hop to fluid contemporary. In terms of technique, everyone upped the ante; dancers landed triple turns, turned backflips across the stage, and demonstrated their flexibility.

This year’s spring show was more stylized than it had been in the past. Unlike in previous years, multiple songs from the same artist were used, specifically songs by Will I Am and Lana del Rey. This added to the cohesiveness of the show. Costume motifs were present throughout too: “Bring on the Funk,” “Classic,” and “Break the Silence” all utilized a black and white color scheme.

Besides the music and visuals, the dances were unified by this year’s dance theme, “Once Upon a Dancer.” Giaky Nguyen (12), Choreo Club president, was one of the choreographers for “#Throwback,” the Choreo Club dance number.

“The theme gave us the idea of…throwback, which is based on the old songs we grew up hearing and dancing to. Now we have the actual chance to dance to the songs at a dance show,” said Nguyen.

However, the Choreo Club dance was not the only throwback. One dance referenced a performance from 100 years ago. In 1913, Les Ballets Russes first performed “The Rite of Spring,” a controversial ballet piece in which pagans surround a girl in a red dress who dances herself to death. It was later performed as a contemporary piece in the late 1900s. “Shatter,” guest-choreographed by Regina Klenjoksi, referenced the modern version of this ballet. The formations, outfits, and intense mood in “Shatter” evoked images of the revolutionary dance number.

In addition to guest choreographers, this show also featured guest dancer Mark Rubin. Ariel Rubin (11) danced with her father in an old school funk/hip-hop dance titled “Bring on the Funk.” Like the Rubins, other dancers explored different sub-genres of hip-hop. “Take it Slow” was another hip-hop number, but it was more lyrical in nature.

Another standout piece was “I Want It That Way,” a solo number choreographed and performed by Leilei Shao (12). Leilei Shao is a Teacher’s Assistant in dance as well as one of the two student artistic directors (the other being Ryan Hall [12]). Her piece was a lyrical number with music by Boyce Avenue. Shao’s dynamic, emotional performance was a testament to her persistence and passion in dance, as well as to the dance department and the space it provides for developing dancers.

  “I was nervous and excited for all three nights,” said Shao. “Luckily, the other dancers were there to cheer for me…There were lots of tears, most of them coming from me, but I am extremely happy that I had the opportunity to go from beginning dance to soloist/artistic director/TA/choreographer in advanced dance. I will look back at my dance memories with a huge smile.”

The show was successful because of all of the hard work put into it. Choreo Club practiced three times a week for about two hours each time. Each level of dance met during school everyday, as well as after school for additional practices.  However, the payoff was greater than the sacrifice.

Some of the pieces were prefaced by a brief message from the dancers. In one of these messages, Advanced Dancer Gayathri Giridharan (12) said, “I went from someone not knowing anything about dance to being able to participate in this program.” Because of the intense hours of practice, dancers with various amounts of experience were able to grow. Their ultimate moment of fulfillment is the performance, where they share their determination and love for dance.

“The biggest highlight of this show for me is walking onto the stage. My heart pounds and my mouth is as dry as a desert but I couldn’t wait to start dancing,” said Nguyen.

The Dance Department will be holding tryouts within the next month. For information, attend the May 13 meeting in the Dance Room. The final show will be tonight.