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The Panther Press

The unseen side of Dance Ensemble

Alyssa Carnahan
Top row, left to right: Natalie Kozelkova (11th), Tessa Holles (9th), Eleri Martin (11th), Riley Chaye-Shin (10th), Hazel Stoneback (9th). Bottom row, left to right: Ella Tyler (11th), Briar O’Connell (12th), Savannah Savitz (9th), Caroline Swain (9th). Not pictured: Linda An (12th), Nyx Baharestan (11th), Kaia Berg-Smith (11th), Keira Breinlinger (10th), Jamelle Namocatcat (12th)

Although our many sports teams get a lot of love from the SD community, one extracurricular that is too often overlooked is the Dance Ensemble, our SD dance team. A group of hardworking students from all four upper school grades, the Dance Ensemble rehearses nearly every day, working towards their showcase at the end of May.

For the freshmen doing SD Dance Ensemble for the first time, it’s a completely different kind of experience.

“There’s definitely a lot of preparing,” Hazel Stoneback said. “I go to a lot more rehearsals than I did for my ballet performance last year. And I just feel like there’s a lot more practicing, and there’s a lot more learning.”

For the seniors, it’s a much more emotional experience; because the dance recital is right at the end of the year, it’s the last SD event many of them will participate in. 

Senior Briar O’Connell said, “I think that it’s sad that the Dance Ensemble doesn’t have more performances, because I think that it’s really fun for the student body to see us. I’m sad because it’s my last year, but I’m excited.”

The showcase comprises several different numbers, many of them choreographed by students, with a variety of genres. “Hip-hop, ballet, contemporary, jazz…that might be it this year,” Alyssa Carnahan, dance coach, said. “Every once in a while we’ll have a tap piece or a tap feature in the show. Sometimes there’s some kind of different cultural or ethnic dance.”

One unique feature of SD Dance Ensemble is the fact that many of the numbers in the show are choreographed by students. 

“I choreograph some of the dances, and then some students choose to choreograph their own dances and they can choose whatever they want. So they can use whatever music they like, they can tell a personal story in their dance, they can do that,” Alyssa said.

Although many people consider the arts less athletic or less difficult than sports, this couldn’t be further from the truth. When asked what some people might find surprising about dance ensemble, Alyssa answered, “I think some people, if they don’t know what it’s like to be a dancer or to rehearse for a dance concert, have no idea how hard it is and how hard the students work, how much effort they put in.” 

There is a huge amount of effort put in by every member of the team, but especially by the student choreographers. They are not only responsible for choreographing a number, but for editing their sound sheet, organizing costumes, figuring out lighting design, and editing their music. The team also has to work around a difficult schedule full of conflicts, while learning and rehearsing over 10 numbers.

All in all, Dance Ensemble is an amazing program, full of hardworking, athletic dancers with unlimited determination. Their culminating performance at the end of May is a unique and beautiful spectacle, with each song telling a completely different story. It is well worth your time, and everyone is encouraged to come out and support our SD dancers. We hope to see you there next week!

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About the Contributors
Maya Donalds
Maya Donalds is a freshman at San Domenico School and a contributor to The Panther Press. She enjoys performing in musicals, reading, origami, baking, and spending time with friends.
Lucy Egan, Contributor
Lucy Egan is a freshman at San Domenico and a contributor to The Panther Press. She enjoys playing tennis, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.  
Savannah Savitz, Contributor
Savannah Savitz is a freshman at San Domenico.

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