Dance Ensemble Winter Performance

Thomas Mills '19

At their Nov. 2 showing, the Sidwell Friends Dance Ensemble performed choreographed dances featuring the music of P!nk, BØRNS, Childish Gambino, and more. The Dance Ensemble shows allow the dancers to exhibit arrangements they have been working on and to receive feedback from the community. 

The students do all of the choreography by themselves, often aiming to convey stories that will inspire the audience. Junior Clara Pierson, who has been dancing in school for over four years, says that the student-run choreography is her favorite part of being in Dance Ensemble. Being able to create her own dances, she said, “gives [her] a chance to focus on [her] choreography as an individual, instead of just a normal skills class that you could take outside of school,” a factor which separates Dance Ensemble from other dance classes.

Dance instructor Marie McNair coordinates the Dance Ensemble and hopes to educate young adults through movement and art. McNair sees dance as an “avenue of self-expression, creativity, and communication” for her students. She said directing the program is very rewarding for her, as she gets to be amazed by the students’ beautiful choreographed dances and their ability to perform them in front of their family and friends. McNair’s goal is to create a safe and stress-free environment where young dancers can foster their artistry and technique. 

McNair believes the Dance Ensemble’s recent showing helped show the students how their dances were coming along and what they needed to work on in the winter. McNair said that the Dance Ensemble’s upcoming winter showcase, which will occur on Feb. 1 in the Mary Ellen Caplin Theater, will be the largest production of the year and will represent “a culmination of work that was started in both the fall and winter semester.”

Many Dance Ensemble members have been dancing for most of their lives, both inside and outside of school. Senior Jordan Kalai, for example, has been dancing in school ever since seventh grade, and joined the Upper School Dance Ensemble in her sophomore year. Dance Ensemble offers Kalai a way to express herself. 

Kalai most values the Dance Ensemble community. “We are all at different points in our dance careers and experience levels, but everyone is supported,” she said. For her and many others, Dance Ensemble can be anything from a way to express difficult emotions to an opportunity to put a creative spin on an everyday occurrence through self-expression.

To senior and longtime dancer Magdalena Paz, Dance Ensemble is more than just a sport. “We practice and run our dances thousands of times, but, unlike other sports, you need to have absolutely no skill level. Anyone can dance and choreographers are happy to work with people if they need to,” Paz said. 

Paz has been with Dance Ensemble for four years and describes it as a great way to connect with people in a different way. 

“You get to meet a diverse group of people and find that everyone in the Ensemble is passionate to be there, and truly enjoys dance,” Paz said. 

Paz said the recent showing went very well and hopes more people will come out in February to see the Dance Ensemble’s new and improved dances.

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