This year’s Winter Student Choreography Showcase took place last week from Thursday, January 24th to Friday, January 25th, featuring 18 pieces choreographed by members of Deerfield’s academic and creative dance ensembles. Covering a variety of genres ranging from jazz, hip-hop, ballet, tap, and contemporary dance, the production encouraged the creativity of rookie choreographers and experienced members alike, with an emphasis on student leadership and collaborative skills.
“The students work together to create the vision of this show,” explained Ms. Jennifer Whitcomb, Director of Deerfield’s Dance Program. “There is no overarching theme throughout the production, as we encourage each student-choreographer to experiment with stylistic approaches reflective of their own personalities.”
In preparation for the showcase, students had been meeting since the fall term for weekly choreography labs, during which they shared their progress and workshop ideas with their peers.
“My favorite part of this process are the moments of putting the show together, when we finally get to see all the lightings and costumes falling into place,” said Selena Martineau ’19, who has been active member of the dance program since she joined Deerfield last fall. “It is a wonderful opportunity to practice the administrative process of choreographing a piece, teaching it, adding the soundtrack, and rehearsing until it becomes second nature. Everyone is so passionate and willing to learn, making this experience an incredibly rewarding one.”
Ms. Whitcomb elaborated upon this idea, saying, “Students become empowered in the process of organizing their own rehearsals and working with their friends to bring a choreographed piece to life. These transferable skills that they develop here are essential to life at and beyond Deerfield.”
In addition, members of the theatre co-curricular program have been rehearsing for the winter play, “A Sonnet in Your Pocket”, which will take place from from Tuesday, February 19 to Friday, February 22 at the Black Box Theatre, starting from 7pm.
The production will explore the universality and transformative power of love, a prominent theme across the 26 Shakespearean sonnets by which the play is inspired.
“This show is quite different from the previous productions we’ve done in that it is an experimental, surrealist romp that follows an emotional structure rather than a narrative plotline,” said Mrs. Lori Clark, director of the production. “Another factor that makes this production unique is its interdisciplinary aspect, as we shaped it into a creative and exuberant playground mixing elements of music, dance, play, comedy, and drama.”
Students involved in the play have responded positively to the experimental feature of the play, commenting on how it increases their awareness of group and sensitivity of space, and broadens their perspective on the creative possibilities of theatre performance in connection to personal expression.
“The nature of this production encourages me to think outside the box through interacting with different spaces, shapes, and dimensions,” remarked Sabrina Ticer-Wurr ’21, a participant in the production. “My favorite part of the process so far is the act of engaging with the text. It not only broadens my perspectives towards the possibilities of acting and immersive portrayal, but also increases my awareness and sensitivity as a reader and writer.”
Fourth Sukprawit ’19, another participant in the winter play, added, “I so enjoy the process of translating the abstract ideas of the sonnet into something tangible, accessible, and meaningful on a personal level.”
Visual, musical, and physical elements play a significant role in transforming Shakespeare’s universal ideas set in Middle English into an accessible form.
Mr. Benjamin Grimm, music director and assistant director of the show, said “The play incorporates a variety of musical styles, in addition to a student-composed madrigal quartet with cello and percussion. he show lifts a number of familiar motifs from popular music, and uses them in instrumental form to add musical commentary on the themes of the sonnets.” Thomas Lyons ’21, another participant in the winter production, commented that “the artistic mediums featured in this show offered me an amazing opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. Engaging with dance, choral singing, and a devised theatre piece for the first time was a little scary at first, but I find it increasing rewarding to try out different ways of expression.”
“It is wonderful to build this show with a group of brave, brilliant, and hilarious students who are willing to be vulnerable and to play around with different ideas,” added Mrs. Clark. “Our message to the Deerfield community and beyond is to be ready to have fun with the different angles towards the sonnets presented in this show, based on the overarching idea that love can be light and enjoyable just as it is gravitational.”