Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401

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Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401

THE MUSE

Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401

THE MUSE

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The Students Behind the Dances

Spirit Week choreographers reflect on their experiences leading their class dances
Generation+dance+co-choreographer+and+vocal+junior+Aileen+Pereda+leads+the+juniors+in+their+%E2%80%9870s-inspired+dance.%0A
Sofia Hennessey-Correa
Generation dance co-choreographer and vocal junior Aileen Pereda leads the juniors in their ‘70s-inspired dance.

The generation and Pep Rally dances are two of the most anticipated events during Spirit Week. Students gather in the gym to watch the groups of performers, clad in their respective class colors or decade-appropriate outfits. 

Both dances are choreographed by students in the respective grades, with rehearsals starting back in January. To decide which grades win, a panel of randomly selected teachers vote based on a set of criteria: cohesiveness/coordination, accuracy/precision, theme, choreography quality, audience appeal, and energy. Despite it being for points, students like generation dance co-choreographer and vocal junior Aileen Pereda want to emphasize having fun in their groups, which often have students from all majors. 

“It’s all about being inclusive and everybody having fun,” Pereda said. 

Pereda choreographed the junior class’ 1970s dance with dance junior Anna Sofia Machado, which featured disco music and dance moves like the Y.M.C.A. This is Pereda’s second time choreographing the generation dance, having also worked on the ‘60s dance last year. Compared to last year, she tripled the number of dancers and brought the juniors to a near win.

“I definitely think that the era has an effect on people,” Pereda said. “‘70s is the best era, undoubtedly.”

Performed on March 14, the nearly six minute set included nine different songs from the ‘70s, including hits like “Dancing Queen” by ABBA and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

“The hardest part is making sure that the track is interesting,” Pereda said. “We like to keep people on their toes, make things interesting, but we want to keep choreography fun without it being too challenging.”

Despite being a vocal major, Pereda has been interested in dancing for years and has taken several hip hop classes in the past. 

“Dancing has always been an interest, even though it’s not what I focus on,” Pereda said. “(Machado) is a dancer, and we have this connection that works really, really well together, and it ended up working super well today.”

Like Pereda, dance sophomore Jasmine Rivera Lillis is also a returning choreographer this year, alongside fellow dance sophomore Emmy Esquivel.

 “I started (choreographing) with the freshman Pep Rally dance,” Rivera Lillis said. “That’s the first time I really choreographed (for) other people and could really make it my own.”

The sophomores’ Pep Rally dance contains a total of 13 popular songs from a variety of artists including Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, and Missy Elliott.

“We wanted to have songs that people knew in the audience but also the dancers knew,” Rivera Lillis said. 

Her experience as a choreographer last year enabled her to create more intricate formations. She thought about the group as a unit rather than just a collection of dancers. For choreography inspiration, Rivera Lillis looked to the students she was working with. 

“I think (the dancers) felt more comfortable with each other,” Rivera Lillis said. “Last year, it was like we teach something, and you do it individually, but then this year, it was a lot more ‘How can we move together to make it look really visually cool?’”

While the other choreographers had prior experience, this was dance freshman Mae Romano’s first time experiencing Spirit Week. Romano and dance freshman Karina Mitten were the main choreographers of the freshmen’s Pep Rally dance.

Although Romano has choreographed small scale dances at her studio, this was her first experience choreographing something over a longer timespan with a large group of people. To get inspired, she looked to several sources for help.

“I got a lot of inspiration from watching the past few years’ pep rallies, … and, being at dance competitions, I see a lot of other studios and people from different parts of the world, seeing how they interpret dance, musicality, formations, and everything,” Romano said.

Romano’s favorite parts of the Pep Rally dance are the ones in which her personal style is most visible. 

“The songs are called ‘Usually,’ and the one right after is called ‘Blessed,’” Romano said. “Those two dances are my favorite because that’s where my style is really shown. Those are the most groovy parts, and they’re really fun, and everyone seems to get into those dances specifically.”

As a whole, the dance features ten songs. In order to curate the playlist, Romano saved songs on Spotify that she liked to dance to and then considered how “hype” the songs were to better fit the Pep Rally setting.

The dances were split up between Romano and Mitten. Additionally, dance freshmen Isabella Main and Arielle Montpeirous each choreographed a section of the dance themselves. 

“(Cooperation) was pretty good,” Romano said. “We had a group chat that we could communicate in and just be like, ‘Okay, I’m going to teach tomorrow. Karina, teach on Wednesday.’” 

As a first-time Spirit Week choreographer, Romano faced some challenges due to this new leadership position, especially when choreographing for her own peers.

“I think the main challenge was trying to get everybody to cooperate because I’m their age, and I’m their friend, so I don’t really have authority,” Romano said. 

Despite this, it was an enjoyable experience for Romano and something she sees herself continuing to do in the future.

“I want to (choreograph) probably every year,” Romano said. “It was really a fun process. I feel good about it and everyone seems to like it.”

 

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Capri Wayne
Capri Wayne, Public Relations Staffer
Capri Wayne is a second-year staffer and public relations staffer on The Muse. She loves listening to all kinds of music and creating extensive Spotify playlists. Her hobbies include playing piano and guitar, writing stories, and playing tennis. In Capri's free time, you'll probably find her watching a movie from her never-ending watch list.
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