A sea of students in coordinating pink shirts flooded Mountain View High’s football field Friday at lunch in Dance Spectrum’s annual winter showcase, the culmination of a semester’s worth of hard work.
The annual showcase is put on by Dance Spectrum, Mountain View High’s “student centered dance program,” and consists of only student-choreographed pieces. This year’s performance featured approximately 150 students from five classes.
“Well, it’s our first one back from quarantine, which is really exciting,” said Allie Nguyen, Dance Spectrum President. “[And] it’s our first year having five classes instead of four, so the program has just got really huge [which is] also really exciting.”
This year’s theme was “Destination Dance” and featured a sequence of routines — each created around a city, state or country — including a hip hop routine to “Miami” by Will Smith, a dance called “New York, New Dork,” (which Nguyen describes as “very pedestrian and, like, girlboss in the city”) and a Eurovision themed piece.
Each of the five classes — intermediate dance, advanced dance, world dance, and two periods of jazz dance — had its own class piece, all of which were performed at the show in addition to one audition dance and the show’s finale.
“At the end, there’s our big Dance Spectrum hip hop number,” said dance teacher Lauren Kato, “Each class has their own little hop hop section for a minute, and then all of Dance Spectrum, all 150 members come together at the end and dance together.”
While the show was located on the football field this year, that’s not usually the case: typically the winter showcase takes place in the big gym.
“On the football field there’s the yard lines and the little ticks, and that makes it very noticeable when people are not in formations,” said Kato, “So spacing has really been a challenge and is becoming more important, as opposed to, in past years when we’re in the gym.”
And that’s not the only setback dancers have faced. Kato said the sheer size of the field has forced students to spread out and learn to become more expansive with their movement. Students who typically dance barefoot have also turned to jazz shoes to avoid “crumb rubber,” the black rubber pieces from turf. But there has been a silver lining.
“I think that teaching, at least this semester with COVID has taught all of us, including myself, to just enjoy our moments together,” Kato said. “I’m trying to make it as wonderful for the students and as realistic as possible, even though we’re out on the field.”
Because students have needed more time to adjust to the field, the classes have been held outside for the past two weeks, instead of the usual few days of practice in the gym, which has “actually proven to be very helpful,” according to Kato.
“I might actually implement that again next year because I feel like the students are more prepared,” Kato said.
According to Nguyen, coming out of quarantine and dancing in a large group has been both exciting and nerve wracking for the dancers, but because they’re all so passionate about it, the process has been rewarding and “everyone’s really enjoying themselves.”
“Just dancing with everyone back together again [has been exciting] because it’s so lonely doing it at home, like, over Zoom. So it’s quite nice having everyone back and we’re all cheering for each other and stuff,” Nguyen said.
“It’s not so much about the costumes and the glitzy glam that usually we sometimes think about with the show,” Kato said. “It’s more about the togetherness, enjoying each others’ company and just coming together to dance because everyone loves to dance and that’s why they’re here.”