On Feb. 9 and 10, Archer’s Dance Troupe left the audience in awe of its annual performance, “A Moment in Time.”
The dancers and special guests lit up the stage of American Jewish University as a culmination of their months of preparation. This year’s show began with a dedication to Archer’s cherished photography teacher, Mr. Hartsfield.
Artistic director, producer and dance teacher Andrea Locke told the Oracle about the thought put into this year’s theme, a moment in time. Dance Troupe embodied the idea of “each moment [as] a treasure or jewel” in this year’s show. Besides excellent choreography and captivating music, each number had a meaning aligned with the theme. For example, Ms. Locke explains that the song choreographed by Caitlin Cromer ‘14 “was based on a time to make choices. The music she selected alludes to alcoholism and wanting to deal with life’s problems – a mature but true problem facing many teens today.”
The performance as a whole featured 92 Archer dancers in middle and upper school performing to music from a variety of genres, each with brilliant costumes and lights. The song selection ranged from hip-hop classics to contemporary ballet pieces and everything in between. The audience could recognize artists like Kendrick Lamar, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Beyonce, Alex Clare, Sara Barielles, Florence and the Machine, and Imagine Dragons.
The audience also enjoyed the captivating rhythm of the Bollywood piece choreographed by Achinta S. McDaniel, founder of Blue13 Dance Company and teacher of modern Indian Dance. The stage lit up the purple and yellow bindis, sequins, and fabrics of the dancers. After the students performed, the teachers, who had been practicing in secret, emerged with a vibrancy all their own. Luke Robertson and Reed Farley, representing Archer’s male faculty members, took center stage surrounded by faculty members from all departments.
The teachers were received with excited shouts and claps for their bravery and their talent. Upper School Director Samantha Coyne-Donnel believes that the experience gave her a new perspective on the “commitment required from all of the dancers.” She “gained an appreciation for all of the preparation and effort that goes into the performance” after practicing for months for just a short debut on stage.
The teachers’ moment in the spotlight also provided a bonding opportunity for the faculty and the dancers. Ms. Coyne-Donnel told the Oracle that some of the most memorable moments were between shows, spending time with the students and hearing their animated applause. She says the faculty performers “were energized by their support and for a fleeting moment, we were rock stars.”
Another highlight of the show was the finale of the first act, a hip-hop medley. The number featured artists like Soulja Boy, Sir Mix-a-Lot, and Vanilla Ice. The dancers wore colorful leather jackets and sneakers as they performed choreography by DC Dance Factory’s Spencer Ralston. Parts of the mix even included familiar moves to the choruses of popular culture sensations like “Gangnam Style” and Soulja Boy’s “Crank That.”
In addition to cultural, hip hop, and modern styles, several of this performance’s numbers were classic ballet. Many Archer dancers trained in ballet showed off their expertise on pointe with grace and poise.
To ballet dancers like freshman Seaf Hartley, Archer’s Performance Dance Company has become “an important part of the [their] dancing world.” She adds, “Through Performance Dance Company, I’’ve not only been able to further refine my technique, but be able to enhance my artistry and feeling towards the art.”
Senior Jaymie Rubin treated the crowd to an aerial performance on her silks to begin the second act. She says the experience was “thrilling and frightening at the same time.” Jaymie puts in extra hours in her aerial studio to prepare for the show. She continues, “When the silk and dance came together, it was beautiful.”
Jaymie Rubin and Kayla Burney choreographed and performed their much-anticipated senior solos. Kayla explains the experience of performing her long-awaited senior piece: “I have been waiting for it since the sixth grade so it was nice to finally be up there and have the stage all to myself. It was nerve-racking and exhilarating all at once.” She even had her song reserved for her number since freshman year. With the spotlight on just her, Kayla says she had her “own moment with the audience” and she was “honored to be able to do it.”
All eight of the Dance Troupe seniors ended the show with their number, “Hanging On.” The lights dimmed as they ended their dance with linked arms, symbolizing their years of dance together.
Featured Image: Dancers performing a ballet. Photographer: Daniella Morrison ’13