The lights in the auditorium shined over the family and friends gathered to support the students on stage. At 7:10, when those lights dimmed, they signaled the start of a show with emotion incorporated into movements and students moving in unison as they brought a different tone and attitude with every act. They signaled the start of the Piodanco showcase.
On April 13, the Pioneer Dance Company (Piodanco) held a recital, where students, as the program suggested, performed ‘dances through the decades.’ Members danced jazz, musical theater, ballet and lyrical pieces to music ranging from the 1890s to the 2000s. The purpose of the club, according to junior and member Maggie MacDonald, is not just to present student’s talents.
“It’s just to really bring dance to ‘Stoga because we don’t really have that many dance programs at our school so we wanted to make a recital to show everybody’s talents,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald, who has been dancing her whole life, thought the showcase went well. Another member, sophomore Jenna Sharples found there was some difficulty when it came to finding time to practice for the event.
Sophomore Jenna Sharples performs on the Conestoga stage last year. Sharples, a member of Piodanco, studies dance at the Betsy Daily School of Performing Arts. Courtesy Jenna Sharples.
According to Sharples, many of the members were involved in the spring musical, “Titanic,” including Ms. Gerenyi, one of the choreographers. The dancers had to practice whenever they could because the practices conflicted with the production of the musical.
“Basically you had to get your dance together, because we had a deadline,” Sharples said.
In addition, Sharples said that two members were unable to perform in her dance with sophomore and member Grace Gosnear and that they had to prepare for the show this week.
Despite these difficulties, Sharples did share the same feeling as MacDonald. Overall, Sharples, who takes dance lessons at the Betsy Daily School of Performing Arts, said the show was a success.
Designing the dances
For the showcase, students are able to exercise their strengths in not only dancing but also in choreographing.
Senior and member Natalie Houck-Meloni was one of these students. She choreographed a number to the song “What is Love?” by Haddaway. Houck-Meloni said it was the job as choreographer to set up the times for rehearsals for the dancers. When it came to creating the moves of the dance, Houck-Meloni said she knew the other two dancers she was working with very well and that the inspiration for her dance moves came from her 10 years of dance experience.
“This is my first time actually choreographing a piece that’s just by myself because before I had done it with at least one or two other dancers,” Houck-Meloni said. “I used a lot of what my dance teachers have taught me over the years, a lot of the moves that they would do and just from experience in dancing throughout the years. It comes a bit more naturally once you’ve danced for a while.”
Dance for Houck-Meloni is the biggest passion she has. Besides her years of experience, she has been a member of Piodanco her entire high school career and in addition, she takes dancing lessons at Contempra Dance Center & Theatre. She said she will continue to pursue this passion in the future.
“I definitely want to keep doing it my whole life,” Houck-Meloni said. “It’s one of those things where once you do it for a while, you can’t really go without dancing. It ends up being a therapy for you.”
Houck-Meloni said she was very proud of the show and dancers this year and hopes that the success of the club continues.
“I’m really proud of how it went this year,” Houck-Meloni said. “I think all the dancers worked really hard. I loved how enthusiastic people were about it. I’d like it if more people would know about it. Especially for years to come, so that leaving it behind [and] I know that it will still be as successful as it was.”
Brittany Roker can be reached at email@example.com.