Andrew’s Orchesis dancers choreograph their own numbers
The saying goes actions speak louder than words. For Andrew High School students, dance provides the group with the means of sharing stories with others through movement, revealing more truth than words can convey.
The Andrew Orchesis Dance Company hosted its annual showcase the weekend of Friday, Nov. 3, and Saturday, Nov. 4, at Andrew High School. The group is made up of 57 students who share interest and varying levels of experience in dance.
“A lot of the students come, they have previous dance background,” said Sonja Rzeszutko, a physical education teacher and co-director for the showcase. “A lot of them have been dancing since they’ve been 3, 4 years old, and some of them just recently started dancing this year or last year. As they come, we just help guide them with the skills they need for each routine.”
Auditions for the 2017 showcase took place in August. Since that time, students have been working on their routines.
“I think everybody’s just got a little itch to dance,” Rzeszutko said. “We take away the fear element of competing. We don’t compete, and it’s just performance-based. So, I think it’s a great to be a part of [Orchesis,] if you have a passion for dance—regardless of your skill level.”
Rzeszutko said she has noted some changes in the students who took to the stage.
“Even just from August, it’s so nice to see the growth seeing them on the floor and having that confidence to be able to perform in front of their peers and family and friends,” she said.
Senior Noah Polignone took a leap in his dance career this time around, choreographing a number for Taylor Swift’s song, “Look what you made me do.”
“It was hard to think it up [and] try to think of moves everyone can do and maybe some moves that some people could do that are challenging, but I think it came together nice,” he said.
Polignone said being part of Orchesis is a highlight of his Andrew High School experience.
“It meant a lot, actually,” he said. “I started Orchesis when I was a sophomore, and that was the first time I’d ever danced. It was really cool, because I look at videos of myself from [last] year to see how much I improved, which is really cool. Everyone in my family has always wanted me to become a dancer, so it’s really nice to be part of it.”
From hip-hop and contemporary pop to electronic and alternative/indie music, all the dances featured during the event were choreographed by the students. They are allowed to select their own music, encouraging freedom of creative expression.
Junior Becky Kats took it upon herself not only to dance in the showcase but also to choreograph a number for others to perform.
“The piece that I choreographed, ‘Baby I’m a star’ by Prince, I’ve been in love with that song ever since I was a little child, and I’ve always listened to it,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this could be a really big, grand number.’ This year, I was provided with the opportunity. No one else was choreographing the opening number, so I just had a leap of faith—no pun intended—and I just went forward with it.”
Kats said she put in a lot of work to prepare for the dance numbers she was featured in during this year’s showcase.
“Personally, my favorite was ‘Hurt,’ choreographed by Nathan Mattix,” she said. “It felt the most expressive, and it really just spoke to me on a spiritual level.”
The showcase featured 12 seniors who will look to cap off their Andrew High School experiences this year.
“Some of them this is their first year they decided to try something new, and some of them they’ve been here since freshman year,” Rzeszutko said. “[There’s] definitely some emotional attachment to being part of this company.”
Senior Cassidy Richerme shared that sentiment.
“It’s really meaningful,” she said. “I’ve danced all throughout my life, so being in a program in high school, it’s really meaningful. I just love being part of the company.”
Because all the numbers were choreographed by the students, they had plenty of ownership in the performance.
“We talk [to the students] about just being proud of your product that you leave on stage and as you walk off the floor,” Rzeszutko said. “They’ve worked so hard, and you only have two minutes to show what you’ve been working on for three or four months, so really we just want them to walk off the stage… knowing that they did that.”