By Bo Moukdarath ‘19
The Dance Gala program provides students with an exciting opportunity to choreograph any type of dance, whether it be a duet, trio, or group number. Shortly after winter sports come to an end, Dance Gala auditions begin. Students from both St. Albans and NCS can audition for the couples’ dance, jazz dance, and modern dance. During auditions, student choreographers fill out forms letting the dance director know what song is chosen for each dance, how many people will be in the dance number, and will discuss with the director in order to figure out studio availability..
Since the start of freshman year, I have been choreographing duets with experienced dancers, and this year I had the opportunity to choreograph in coordination with a good friend for the third time around. We had the chance to do a tap solo choreographed by a professional at the Catholic University of America. Given only a month and few weeks before the final performance, student choreographers work on choreography twice a week, forming a unique and creative dance number for the show.
Choreographing with a duet partner for the past three years taught me the skill and patience needed to put a dance together. First, my partner and I choose a song fitted for the mood and story our dance would unveil. Next, I cut the music to our liking; then it’s straight to rehearsals. A choreographer may have brilliant ideas for a new work. However, translating this imagination into dancers' bodies and shaping it into a dance that is ready to be performed is a very challenging, yet equally rewarding, process. For most choreographers, making dance is a passion. To be completely honest, my dance partner and I have faced "dancer's block" multiple times and it can be frustrating at times. Choreographing different dance moves for every second of a song can be difficult, but it's fun when you put your mind and motivation to create something no one has seen before.
However, if a student decides to choreograph a dance, there is a trial called "Student Choreography Adjudication,” a process in which the director and a dance teacher determine whether the dance is allowed in the final program or not. Usually, the majority of dances are approved, and once the dance is revealed, the director gives notes and ideas on how to improve and perfect it for the final show. Besides adjudication, student choreographers are given the chance to choose appropriate costumes and backdrop for the performance.
At the final show, my duet partner and were are ecstatic and grateful to be performing a piece we've worked so hard on. With the addition of costumes, lights, and music, we were content with our dance number, and we could not have come this far without our knowledge of dance and working together—not just as dancers, but good friends. It is truly rewarding recognizing hard work that pays off. Friends and family members exuding a roaring applause at the end comes to show how much they enjoyed the piece. Seeing the audience entertained by the contemporary dance piece holds a special place in my heart knowing that as a dancer, I can make someone smile by just doing what I love most.