Every year, Deerfield dancers come together to choreograph pieces for the Winter Dance Showcase. This year’s showcase has 109 students performing in it, the highest participation rate in a showcase to date.
“The student choreography showcase started as a more casual showcase, just to give people an opportunity to choreograph,” said Maddie Thies ’17, one of the choreographers of the showcase from the Advanced Dance Ensemble.
Thies additionally noted the showcases change over the years, saying, “Now it’s become a whole spectacular event for people and while it’s still definitely a big performance, it’s also just an opportunity for more people to get involved.”
Compared to regular dance showcases, which involve dance teachers such as Ms. Jennifer Whitcomb managing the logistics and pieces, the student-choreography showcase is completely student — run.
“The students run the whole show — we’re the ones who propose our pieces, audition our pieces, come up with the rehearsal schedule, the lighting for our pieces, the program, and the stage managers,” explained Thies.
“It’s a lot harder and time consuming than it looks,” stated Ossie Heard ’18, one of the two male choreographers, about the process of organizing the production. “One of the hardest things is figuring out how to combine all the components such as lighting, music, and costumes.”
To a student choreographer, the responsibility of organizing a whole dance is daunting, but also exciting.
“I think it’s fun because it’s usually something you don’t get to do,” stated Sarah Du ’17, who is also a choreographer from the Advanced Dance Ensemble. “It gives you a fresh perspective and role.”
Heard continued, “I think the most rewarding part is realizing that your dance is a success and that people actually like it. I think that one of my biggest insecurities, as a choreographer, is that people won’t like it.” He went on to say, “Crowd approval is a big thing. It’s hard not to cater to the audience, but it’s also hard just to do it for you.”
All students are encouraged to participate in the dance showcase, but the choreographers are chosen by being involved either in the dance program, academic classes, coaching, or in the co-curricular program. Choreographers all have to be approved by Ms. Whitcomb.
“Even if you don’t want to grow up to be a choreographer or a dancer, it’s a really great experience to be in a leadership position and to learn how to teach dance,” said Mila Castleman ’18, a student choreographer from the Advanced Dance Ensemble.
This year’s showcase, to be held on January 26, features over twenty pieces choreographed by students of all grades and genders. The dances range from elegant genres such as ballet and jazz to energetic pieces, such as hip-hop and modern.
“With Deerfield dance, you’re allowed to do it all four years. Every showcase is an opportunity for you to perform,” said Heard. “The fact that I have that freedom I think is a very special thing.”