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BHS Students Display Stunning Dance Skills

By ROBYN GEE Special to the Planet
Tuesday January 13, 2004

Nothing pumps an audience more than music with a beat, performers with attitude, and dancers jumping off the stage into the audience! This is exactly how Berkeley High School’s Dance Production 2004 begins.  

This annual production features BHS juniors and seniors who’ve auditioned before a panel of judges and have been admitted to the Dance Production class, performing several student-choreographed dances.  

The show features all kinds of dance, including hip-hop, modern, ballet, jazz, and more. The dancers perform with an enthusiasm and commitment to movement that inspires everyone. One might think it difficult to perform in front of your high school peers; but these dancers are fearless. They obviously love the stage.“Nothing beats being on stage in front of a full house, with all the hooting and hollering!” said Jono Brandel, a BHS senior.  

“This year was really great. There was more dance per square foot than in past years,” said Linda Carr, BHS dance teacher. “The movements were more challenging, big, and full,” she added.  

Each dance on the program has something unique to offer the audience. 

The most physical dance on the program is “Cyclic Photophosphorylation,” choreographed by Brandel. It is full of challenging lifts and balancing acts. Dancers take running leaps onto each other’s backs, shoulders, and waists. 

Brandel said Dance Production has meant a lot to him. He said he never knew how to dance and used to try and imitate MTV music videos before he was convinced to try out. “It has opened up a whole new world for me—there’s so much freedom—you really get the chance to express yourself and explore,” he said. 

Brandel is also an artist and said art has helped him to take risks in dance and not be afraid. “The main thing art has helped me with is guts. I’m not afraid to show who I am,” he said.  

“Lobsters,” choreographed by Carly Boland and Sonja Dale, featured a duet between a bashful couple, Sonja Dale and Colin Epstein, and one between a passionate couple, Jack Nicolaus and Liza Cirolia, and one dancer, Leslie Hyman, longing for a partner. The music choices of “Beauty and the Beast” (Disney) and Lake Louise (Yuki Kuramoto) created a cute, overly dramatic mood. The piece was well staged with two benches as props and partnering that showed off the abilities of the choreographers and the dancers. 

Nicolaus choreographed a high-powered piece called “Revolution,” in which the dancers wore jeans and white-collared shirts. They gave the impression of constantly running towards something, with fast steps and a fixed gaze on something in the audience.  

Nicolaus tried out for Dance Production because a friend dared him to. “I got in, and he didn’t,” he said. Nicolaus is also a football player and thinks that dancing has helped his footwork on the field. “The physicalness of dance and the performance aspect of it, create the perfect art form,” he said.  

For a change of pace, “Gone Spanish,” choreographed by Sara Assadi-nik, featured Spanish music, red and black Spanish style costumes, and Salsa moves. Interspersed throughout the piece are short love-hate relationship stories, which keep it entertaining. During the chorus, all 28 dancers strut back and forth across stage. This piece is a true crowd motivator, with a surprising and funny ending.  

The BHS intermediate and advanced dance classes each showcased a piece in the performance as well.  

Student creativity shone through in the variety of choreography in the show. “This year we had a few exceptionally good choreographers,” said Carr. She said that as the performances approached, she really tried to bring out the choreographer’s original intent. 

“I’ve had so much fun getting to choreograph,” said Annie Goodman, BHS senior and choreographer of “Zeppy.” “It’s like people have been putting away ideas all year and building up this energy. It’s a great chance to express and release feelings from the school year,” she added.  

Clarissa Chan, BHS senior and choreographer of Crudite and An Abyss Between Unconsciousness, said she appreciated the chance to choreograph and has thought about producing shows in the future. “We get to do everything ourselves—decide the lighting, the costumes,” said Chan. She said her ideas for choreography come from the music. “I listen to it, get an image, and go from there.”  

BHS dancers enjoy getting to know other dance enthusiasts in their school. Brandel said, “My favorite part is the every day stuff. Going to classes with people interested in learning your choreography, and learning other choreography, is great.”  

The Dance Production 2004 show is a success and displays a joy of dance and a true community of dancers. “Everyone bonds so quickly in that situation. We are a very tightly knit group,” said Goodman.  

The first two shows were last Friday and Saturday, and Dance Production performs again this weekend—Jan. 16 and 17—with shows starting at 8 p.m. in the Florence Schwimley Little Theater. 


Writer Robyn Gee is a Berkeley High School student.