Each year, Menlo hosts a Dance Concert, featuring both experienced and beginner dancers from Menlo clubs and dance classes. This year's Dance Concert is unique in that many upperclassmen are stepping up into leadership roles to choreograph and lead dance teams. Staff photo: Kaitlyn Tom
By Kaitlyn Tom
Upperclassmen who have been participating in the Dance Concert throughout high school are excited not only to show what they’ve been working on, but are also excited about the new responsibilities they've taken on in preparing for the Dance Concert. For junior Caroline Douglass, a member of the Knights dance team, this year's Dance Concert will be her sixth. “This year is different because there’s a lot more work to do as an upperclassmen. We choreograph [the] majority of the dances performed by the dance team so [we] really have to be on top of it,” Douglass said. “We also have to help with lighting, staging, costumes, and organize rehearsal times and devote a lot of time outside of school making sure everything looks good.”
Because of the added responsibility, dancers have run into a few problems in preparing for the Dance Concert. “The most challenging part is finding times for the whole team to practice. Everyone is so busy right now, and we have people on mock trial and people who dance rigorously outside of school, so organizing times to meet is tough,” Douglass said. “Another thing that’s tough is starting the preparation early, because conflicts come up and it’s hard to get choreography in early on.”
Junior Ariana Carranza, who is co-captain of the Knight Life dance team, agrees with Douglass. “By being co-captain now, I’ve gotten the chance to choreograph around five pieces with the other co-captains. It is definitely time-consuming and a little bit scary,” Carranza said. “I am also really slow at choreographing, so I usually need a lot of time to fully finish a piece.”
For dancers who are choreographing, they struggle with balancing academics and the Dance Concert. “The most difficult part is always balancing school work during those two weeks in preparation of the Dance Concert. In those two weeks I have practice [and] performance every single day and we all have to stay [until] very late at school and have to spend our weekends here too,” Carranza said. Yet, Carranza enjoys that she gets to spend time dancing. “Not only do I get to dance every week, but I am also very grateful to be a part of our amazing team,” Carranza said.
Despite these challenges, dancers have found a way to overcome them. “We have definitely gotten better at [finding time to choreograph], and this year we made sure that we were practicing much more and learning dances earlier,” Douglass said. Carranza believes that the overall support of the team also serves as a motivation. “Everyone is incredibly supportive and talented and funny, and even though our practices run late, it is always worth it,” Carranza said.
In addition to Menlo dancers choreographing numbers, the dance team invited a guest choreographer, Menlo alum Angela Curotto ‘07, to choreograph a contemporary number for the Knights dance team. “She was one of my dancers [...] she’s a [...] gorgeous dancer,”dance teacher Jan Chandler said. Because Curotto is a Menlo alum, she has inspired Menlo dancers. “The choreographer is actually a Menlo alum, and is now dancing with a professional dance company, which definitely inspired me and built a cool connection,” Douglass said.
Overall, students are excited for the Menlo community to be able to see all the hard work they’ve put into preparing for this year's Dance Concert. “I’m most excited about seeing the audience enjoy each dance routine. Hearing the audience cheer and applaud as loud as they can is probably the most satisfying thing for a dancer, and for any performer on stage. The audience is in for a real treat this year,” senior Nitya Tarakad said.
Tickets for the Dance Concert are $10 and are currently on sale on the online Campus Store. The Dance Concert will be on March 30 - April 1 at 7:30 p.m., and April 2 at 2:00 p.m. at the Florence Moore Auditorium.