The South Pasadena Dance Department finished out the 2018-19 season in spectacular fashion with their high-octane performance of “Four Seasons”. Under the direction of dance teacher and choreographer, Courtney Cheyne, the department has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years with ever growing numbers, expanding their creativity across dance genres. This year, Cheyne, along with production and lighting designer, James Jontz, have outdone themselves by taking the production values and costumes to new heights. The performance was divided into the four seasons, beginning with summer, with each season beautifully illucidated in rich hues, beautiful décor and dazzling costumes.
The evening began with the long days of summer, with plenty of Beach Boys and beach balls abounding. Cheyne makes terrific use of her dancers, with several numbers involving what seemed like dozens of them as lifeguards, 50’s era beachbathers and surfers. Rachel Serwin had everyone googling for the nearest Halau to take hula lessons with her graceful interpretation of Hilo Medley and Grace Chavez and Ella Jabalameli had the audience cheering for “Baby Shark”.
A visually stunning “Falling Amber” opening the Fall sequenced, choreographed by guest choreographer, Claire Kucera, helping to segue into more contemporary pieces that included a mesmerizing Hindi number, choreographed by Cheyne, called “A Hundred Hands”. A major highlight of the Fall pieces was the raucous first act closer, “Infectious”, choreographed by guest choreographer, also voted most enthusiastic audience member, Malik Warlick. Using what felt like the entire dance company, Warlick created a veritable dance party on stage that permeated the audience and featured some knockout solo work from Angela Zhang.
Next up was the crisp, snow-covered Winter pieces which saw snow falling and snowballs thrown against a wash of light blues and whites, featuring lit-up icicles. Simon Pierce danced an exquisite Joey Leon choreographed solo entitled “Snow Angel” using enormous, billowing wings that picked up an array of colored lighting, creating a glorious effect.
Spring saw a fun tap number to “Singing in The Rain”, choreographed by guest choreographer Cristina McKeever, that showed off the dancers’ considerable tap skills, featuring the ebullient Kayla Nielsen, who also performed a joyful tap solo to “Good Day Sunshine”. Tabitha Okitsu was a standout with an enthralling solo, “Aqua Flora”, in a hypnotizing, lit up costume that looked like spinning raindrops.
Color Guard instructors Israel Gutierrez and Joey Leon performed a show-stopping “After The Storm”, executing extraordinary sword and rifle choreography, eliciting gasps from the enthusiastic crowd. Another visually stunning piece was the sumptuous “Flowers in Bloom” led by Isa Recendez, Jiji Paixao and Canela Gutierrez in gigantic, vibrant flowers that the dancers manipulated into gorgeous pictures, who were then joined by an extravaganza of spring florals. The SPHS Color Guard, who had terrific pieces in each season, ended with their Spring piece “Appalachian Spring” with their vibrant flags flying and dynamic moves.
All in all, it was a highly entertaining evening full of the artistry of the South Pasadena students, many of whom will be graduating in two short weeks. Saturday night ended with heartfelt thank yous to Cheyne, Jontz, all the guest choreographers and an emotional goodbye to all the senior dancers with bouquets from Ms. Cheyne. Congratulations to all the dancers on their wonderful productions this year and as always, stay tuned for new and exciting works next season from SPHS Dance.