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The Mirror

The student website of Van Nuys High School
Van Nuys, California
The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

Dance troupe returning with winter show

Nimble movements: (L to R) Damady Verganza, Tanaj Kinchen, Fatiah Lawal, Antonella Podesta, Ava Boris and Ariana Mariscal warm up at the barre by holding a tendu.

And five, six, seven, eight! 

The dance department is bringing movement and flow back to campus.

Due to distance learning, Dance Company — the school’s advanced dance team — could only host virtual performances last year which lacked a live audience.

Now, the dance department is preparing for it’s annual winter show in which students display dances ranging from jazz to hip-hop to ballet.

This year’s theme is “Howling at the Moon.” The show is expected to be performed outside throughout the quad to maintain social distancing guidelines and keep in touch with the theme. It will take place after school from Dec. 9 to 11.

“The audience will be treated to something different, and acquire a renewed connection with the performers and with our beautiful campus,” dance teacher Ms. Diane Hula said. 

One piece the team is currently working on for the show is a jazz dance called “Let’s Live it Up” which was also performed during this year’s Homecoming Parade.

“I’m really excited for the show,” dancer Abigail Lee said. “Dance showcases were my favorite part of dance before distance learning. Staying after school, getting ready with everyone else, dancing together, the feeling is incomparable to anything else. I can’t wait to do that again this year.”

Although it took nearly two months to finish, it was the first collaboration with all of the company members since the return to campus.

“Being back together meant we could finally work on more projects and dance pieces,” Dance Board President and company member Fatiah Lawal said.

The team practices every day during sixth period and every Wednesday after school.

“Being able to dance in person has been one of the best things about returning to in person school,” Lee said. “There is something different about dancing in a room with people who are just as dedicated and passionate about dancing as you are, and it’s honestly just a lot less lonely after a year of dancing alone in my room.”

While the return to campus has opened the door to new opportunities, distance learning was a unique experience that took some getting used to. 

For students and teachers alike, it was an uphill battle lacking the face-to-face connections and interactions necessary to teach and learn dance. 

Ms. Hula recalls teaching dance as a challenge as it was hard to give details required for technique through Zoom.

For students, it was difficult to learn how to dance on a computer screen and rehearse being restricted to their bedrooms. It was also hard to communicate when practicing dance pieces due to technical issues. 

“Last year was the first time I was in Dance Company and it was very difficult to learn how to dance on a computer screen,” Lawal said. “It was hard to bond and communicate with each other to get our dance pieces done.”

Despite these difficulties, the program remained hopeful. 

“Even though the setting wasn’t perfect, I really connected with many students over the school year through the screen,” Ms. Hula said. 

Students were able to still learn many dance genres, combinations and all of the classes were involved in virtual performances.

Prior to the school year starting, the Dance Company performed for a live audience.

“The dancers rehearsed in the summer and performed an uplifting piece called ‘Born to Be Brave.’ It was televised on KLCS,” Hula said.

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About the Contributor
Jaden Hantman
Jaden Hantman, Staff Writer
Jaden Hantman is an Entertainment writer for The Mirror. He is a senior in his first year of journalism. His interests include listening to music, watching movies — “Mulholland Drive” is his favorite — and studying history. He hopes to travel the world, particularly to Egypt where he wishes to visit the king's chamber. Jaden plans to major in history and eventually become a history teacher.
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