Dance performance showcases over 150 dancers at the ninth annual winter recital

Sarah Borton, Reporter

The dance program, with over 125 dancers, showcased a wide variety of dances on Dec. 6. In the winter performance, they performed all styles of dances including jazz, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and tap. The program has been preparing since the beginning of the school year. This show featured the largest number of student-choreographed dances.
Winter and spring productions require quite a bit of planning.
“It starts with instruction at most levels and building individual skills and technique in order to better absorb choreography,” dance teacher, Erin Norton said. “I try to choose a variety of music and choreography styles to keep a good mix in the production.”
The music is selected, and edited costumes are ordered and altered, the program order is put in place, and lighting and stage cues are written.
Every year, Norton choreographs a dance for each level and a guest artist comes to the Dance Company to do a residency. Norton said that each Dance Company member is required to choreograph one dance each year from their second year on. Dance 4 choreographs two group dances and Dance 3 choreographs one.
Lily Potter (‘20), a member of Dance Company, began choreographing her solo dance at the end of the summer. Potter has been dancing for five years, and about a year ago she tore the labrum in both of her hips, which has restricted her ability to dance.
“I got surgery on my left side in June, and now I have to get the right side repaired this month,” Potter said. “I’m not technically supposed to be dancing right now, but since I will be out for about six more months, I decided it was worth it.” Despite her setbacks, Potter was in two dances for the show.
This fall has brought difficulties with illnesses and injuries.
“[Injuries] are unexpected and we have to make sure our understudies are ready to jump in when we need them,” Dance Company member Courtney Butz (‘20) said.
Along with Potter, Esther Yu (’19) is a member of Dance Company and student choreographer. During the show, she participated in seven dances.
“Hereford has allowed me to try many different choreographers’ styles which [has] improved my dancing,” Yu said.
For the spring show, she is planning to choreograph a hip-hop routine. “The greatest challenge is making the dance unique [and] entertaining [while] staying in love with it.”
Every choreographer’s process is unique. Bella Sheckells (‘20) lets each part of the dance fall into place naturally. After choosing a song that fits her, she listens to the song repeatedly and listens to the lyrics for a deeper meaning and then she starts to dance, letting the movements come to her.
“As I create, more and more ideas pop into my head, so I slowly start to envision dancers, formations, and costumes,” Sheckells said. She has been dancing since she was four years old and is now in Dance Company.
Rez Finnell (‘21) is in Dance 4 and is one of two boys in the entire dance program this year.
“I’m used to [being one of the few guys], I’ve been dancing for a while now and it’s always been a bunch of girls and then me,” Finnell said. “At first it was always nerve-racking.”
Finnell usually dances hip-hop, but he was involved in three modern dance routines for the show.
Isla Naraval (’22) has been dancing for 10 years and is a member of Dance Company. She quickly discovered the reality of dancing in high school.
“The most difficult thing was probably the time management and trying to keep up,” Naraval said. She is one of the younger dancers in company. “It can be a lot when learning five dances at a time, balancing out school work and grades, trying to remember every small detail, and still trying to make every rehearsal.”
Mackenna Bonner (‘22) is also adjusting to Dance Company as an underclassman.
“It is hard to come [onto] a team who has already danced together and know each other very well,” Bonner said. “However, [the other company dancers] have been very welcoming to all the freshmen and new people on the team; I have gotten to know everyone, and the rest of the year is going to be a blast.”
MaryBeth Bauermann (’20) said their biggest challenge – as any first recital with a new set of dancers in company – is finding their rhythm as a group and dancing alongside new people.
When Norton first started teaching dance at Hereford in 2009, there were nine dancers in the entire dance program.
“One hundred and twenty-five [dancers] is something I never could have dreamed of,” Norton said. “It is so awesome to see them take a bow together, and I’m so proud of each and every one of them.”
Many dancers in the program plan to pursue dance through high school and some even after high school.
Morgan Young’s (‘20) dream job is to be a Rockette. Ever since a young age she has admired the Rockettes onstage at Radio City Music Hall and in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. She has already successfully auditioned and attended the 2018 Rockettes’ Summer Intensive where she spent a week living in New York City while following the Rockettes’ schedule, rehearsing every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in their rehearsal hall.
“I was able to learn directly from the Rockettes and perform some of their famous pieces [such as] Sleigh Ride, Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, and Singing in the Rain,” the aspiring Rockette said. “I was fully immersed in the Rockette world. The experience was incredible and [deepened] my love for them.”
Young plans to return to the Intensive next year and audition for the company once she is 18 years old.
No matter how long someone has been dancing for or what their plans are after this year, Norton always loves to see the growth of the beginning dancers. She also loves seeing her veteran dancers shine.
“I think my favorite part is probably watching a dancer run off stage knowing [they] really nailed a performance they have worked so hard on, whether they are performing, choreographing, or both,” Norton said. “I love to see the dancers build each other up and applaud one another.”