The 2022 Tutus

Senior dance majors return to the stage for the first time this school year with the Senior Solo Showcase on Sept. 23

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Lexi Critchett

Draped in white silks, dance senior Tori Gilbert performs her ballet solo, “La Bayadere Variation,” pirouetting across the Brandt Black Box Theater for the first time since her sophomore year. “We’re all just really excited to see them out there and showcasing their love, passion, and talent for dance,” Department Dean Heather Lescaille said. “This is a nice way for them to just decompress.”

Makena Senzon

The lights of the Brandt Black Box Theater gleam on the faces of dance seniors for the first time since their sophomore year. A live audience witnessed the elegant arabesques and jetés of 19 dancers; the pandemic-induced period of video recordings and glitchy cameras at last concluded.

“I’ve been anticipating it for two years, and being on stage is the part that dancers love the most,” dance senior Marina Copin said prior to the performance. “So to have that deprived has been miserable, and [now] so I’m so excited. I can’t wait, but the nerves are bigger than ever.”

Before leading the rest of the performers on stage for their final bows, dance senior Marina Copin poses at the end of her solo, “Playful Pizzicato.” Alongside her studio owner, Copin choreographed this piece to reflect herself and all that she’s learned throughout her time as a Dreyfoos dancer. “I’m so grateful to be part of this community,” Copin said. “It really is a family, everyone here is the sweetest.” (Lexi Critchett )

The showcase opened Sept. 23 and will have a second showing on the 24th. It is a celebration of the senior class’s growth and is an opportunity to showcase each student’s unique talent and style. 

“​[My solo is] supposed to be my personality. So it’s cute and dainty, but it takes a lot of strength and perseverance” Copin said. 

This is the first live performance since November 2019 due to the coronavirus. The dean of the dance department, Mrs. Lescaille, spoke of how the class of 2022, or as she calls them the “tutus”, were always positive and resilient despite the many obstacles thrown in their way. 

“They really have a great energy, work ethic, and just get along so well with everyone in the faculty,” Ms. Lescaille said. “There’s a lot of passion in the group. They really, really cheer each other on. And they’ve done that through all of COVID. Even from the beginning, when I saw them on Google Meet, they had smiles on their faces and they’re just ready to go.”

Dance senior Sophia Chambers performs her solo, “As It Was” for only the second time since it was choreographed in 2020. She had originally intended on competing with it, though she only got to use it once before Covid-19 shut down any potential competitions. (Lexi Critchett)

The showcase was organized by senior dance students where each of them were given the opportunity to partake in a solo. Some choreographed their own piece, while others had help from friends, teachers, and instructors. 

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” dance senior and showcase usher Sydney Forrest said. “I was just sitting there watching them, so proud. I know they’re going to be successful, and I literally can’t wait to see what they’re gonna do.”

Dance senior Emma Jaffe’s solo was done in honor of her younger brother, Matthew Jaffe, who passed away a month ago. Her solo is called “Shades of Green” to honor his favorite color. The dance department handed out green ribbons to the audience and performers as a tribute to him. They also planned the commemoration and added a brief eulogy dedicated to her brother in the program, both of which were a surprise to Jaffe and her family. 

Handing out programs for the showcase, dance senior and usher Alexis Santiago wears a green ribbon pinned to her chest in honor of Matthew Jaffe, dance senior Emma Jaffe’s younger brother who passed away earlier this year. The entire showcase was dedicated to him and the Jaffe family, with “#greenformatthew” written on the inside cover of the program. (Lexi Critchett )

“I got kind of emotional beforehand,” Jaffe said. “So going on stage I had to hold in my tears a little bit. But I just knew he was there watching, so it kind of made me feel a little bit better.”

Jaffe felt “an outpouring of love” and was amazed at the support from all her fellow students. 

“I just wanted to thank everyone for coming out to support and for wearing ribbons in his honor and for everything, really everything; it’s just been unbelievable,” Jaffe said. I don’t really have words, it’s just been so amazing.”

Wearing a satin green dress and holding back tears, dance senior Emma Jaffe reaches upwards with her eyes fixed on the ceiling. Her dance, entitled “Shades of Green,” was dedicated to Matthew Jaffe, whose favorite color was green. (Lexi Critchett)

There were hollers and cheers throughout the performance and a standing ovation greeted the dancers during their final bow. Besides the audience wearing masks and sitting socially distanced, it seemed like everything was at last normal. Principal Blake Bennett said she “had goosebumps”.

“I can’t believe what I just saw, I don’t even know that I could find the words to describe how amazing that was,” Ms. Bennett said. “I was completely speechless. They were just beautiful and breathtaking, and the talent is just overwhelming.”

Following the showcase, Ms. Bennett converses with parents and students about the “magic” exemplified by the dancers. (Lexi Critchett)

The dancers were mere feet away from the seats, as the front row of the Brandt directly borders the stage. It was a much more personal setting than Meyer Hall, but they didn’t let the close quarters overwhelm them. 

“When I was on stage and the lights were in my eyes, I saw everybody in the audience. I start[ed] to get nervous and then I get wobbly, so sometimes I [got] off my leg. But it’s the emotion that matters and how I felt—and I felt really good about it.”

This is only the beginning of the dance department’s return to live shows. All grades will perform during the Fall Concert Nov. 4, Nov. 5, and Nov. 6.

Ms. Lescaille said, “come see our performances, see the magic.”

Dance senior Samantha Rycroft does an arabesque as part of her contemporary solo, “Deal.” (Lexi Critchett)