On Monday, May 30 at 7:00 pm, dancers excitedly waited backstage as the welcome video played and it was their turn to take the stage. Due to the pandemic, some of these dancers were performing for the first time, while others have waited and rehearsed two years for this! The backstage jitters look different for everyone, but they all feel the same: jumping up and down, shaking out hands and legs, quickly marking the routine, and big smiles with wide-eyed glances at friends. This feeling is excitement that is sometimes disguised as nervousness, and our dancers did extremely well at embracing this. Walking onto the stage, they appeared calm.
Part of the challenge of dance is to make the routine seem effortless while portraying strong emotion and high energy. Being vulnerable on stage in a solo or remaining in-sync during a group piece is not easy. Like any sport, dancers dedicate long hours to practising their art. Besides physical fatigue, dancers also experience mental and emotional exhaustion because creating choreography is particular with each movement and is often inspired by sensitive memories.
As each dancer took the stage, they were ready. As their dance coach, I watched from my spot near the curtain backstage. I absolutely love this spot because I get to watch that transition in each dancer as they emerge from behind the curtain onto the stage. So much growth happens in that split moment; it’s magical. I saw dancers mature, break-free, tell a story, release emotion, and make smart choices all at the same time. It is incredibly impressive – artistically and athletically – to be able to make a slight adjustment in their choreography while not breaking from character all within milliseconds, is talent. The strength for slow movement, the balance for effortless turns, the stamina for continuous movement, the power for high jumps or kicks, and the grace to tie it all together with a sly glance or a reach of the fingertips; I am extremely proud and impressed by these dancers.
As audience members, you saw the show. You were clapping along to the beat, cheering with admiration, and snapping countless pictures. Your energy was felt by the dancers as they performed and that fueled them even more. You were a supportive audience and I applaud you. What happily surprised me is when audience members approached me afterwards to say that they felt the show; this is special.
I want to say thank you again to those who helped behind the curtains because the smoothness of the event would not have been successful without volunteering your time and for that, the dancers and I are enormously grateful.
Thank you to Ms. Sue Cole for running a smooth front of house. Thank you to Ms. Karlee Sinclair and Ms. Stephanie Fillman for taking the time to help me figure out how to properly print the performance programmes. Thank you to Mr. Jeff Smith for ensuring the electronics were set up properly, for filming the magic, and for his never-ending support of the arts. Thanks to Lucas Martin ‘24 for playing the music and Qiaoman Tracey ‘23 for lighting up the stage who without them, the performance would have been very different. Thank you to Mrs. Alyssa Murphy ‘06 for her selfless support and for learning the tech last minute to help Lucas and Qiaoman. Thank you to Jacob Edgecombe ‘27 for offering to open and close the heavy curtains when he noticed I was trying to multitask. Thanks to Ms. Hannah Sinclair for her calmness backstage and for ensuring the videos were presented quickly and clearly. Many thanks to Mr. Daniel Kimbley, Jennifer Liang ‘22, Sebastian Feng ‘23, and Harrison Kim ‘23 for capturing hundreds of pictures to remember the night.
This year’s recital may be finished, and we are still basking in the glow of the successful show, but dancers are already looking forward to next year and the challenge of it all over again. Having this opportunity to perform allowed them to be heard and prove to themselves that they are capable. Their continued desire to learn, grow, share, and perform brings a huge smile to my face and makes many hearts happy.
Junior School FacultyDirector of Dance & Head Dance Coach