Dance is thriving in South Pasadena and it is on full display at South Pasadena High School this week. The SPHS Dance Department, under the direction of Courtney Cheyne, has become a vibrant program that consistently produces strong, innovative shows choreographed by Cheyne, the talented student choreographers and guests. The Winter Concert opened last night and will have one more performance Friday December 7 at 7pm. It’s only $10 at the door and well worth it; we are lucky indeed to have such a cool dance scene going on in town.
The show is two acts with no intermission; the first act is called “Perspective” consisting of six pieces choreographed by Cheyne that are meant to be watched together. Cheyne tells us the inspiration for these pieces was born out of the idea that the world changes when we change our perspective. The choreography brings the audience through a narrative of identifying truth among the thoughts we each project upon ourselves and upon each other. She says, “the performance explores the potential of people recognizing a problem, considering solutions together, and collectively producing change through the expansion of one small idea.”
Cheyne’s choreography is ambitious, demanding a lot of her dancers, and they rise to the challenge and then some. The six pieces create a sculptural beauty as the dancers fuse together and come apart, moving from one shape to the next against vivid splashes of color, sometimes in silouhette. The music is at turns moody and bold eliciting the feeling of being taken on a journey. The dancers fiercely slice through the air with sharp precision and then surprise you with soft vulnerability.
The second act gets into more playful territory, made up of fantastic choreography from the students, guest artists, color guard and closes out with a rousing number by the full SPHS Tiger Marching Band! There is something for everyone in this show from contemporary, jazz, musical theatre, tap and even hula! Kayla Nielsen is back with another super cool tap number to “Salute” and the entire company joins in a tap extravaganza to “Sing Sing Sing”. Mia Dawson delivers a powerful solo along with other strong solos from Tabitha Okitsu, Simon Pierce and a lovely hula by Rachel Serwin.
Cheney says, “Dance III had a choregraphy assignment this year and I was completely blown away by their hard work and creativity. I felt they deserved to put their artistry into the show for everyone to enjoy and I am beyond proud.”
From the powerful bravery of last year’s “Phenomenal Woman” to a full scale story ballet of “Alice In Wonderland” last spring and this current offering of striking choreography, SPHS Dance is making their presence known and are definitely ones to watch. Be on the lookout for their announcement of what’s cooking for the big Spring production; if these last shows are any indication then we are all in for a treat.