Dance show: Spotlighting Diversity in Style

By Kristen Fan and Katrina Arsky

On May 17, whether it be a lighted picture of an eerie fog of the Golden Gate Bridge or the San Francisco MoMa, a group of dancers will showcase their variety of styles under specific themes categorized to represent several landmarks of San Francisco. Each of these dances feed into this year’s jazz show theme: “City of Dance: Sights of SF.”

The Spring Dance Show will encapsulate the diversity of style that dance teacher April Oliver’s jazz classes aim to achieve throughout the entire year. Her classes, particularly Advanced Jazz, have given students an environment to explore various forms and styles of movement. To showcase this, the dance show, choreographed largely by the student dancers, will give these dancers a platform to display their creative differences and express themselves in a new style of dance.

“Diversity is very enriching both in terms of [a student’s] development as a dancer and potentially as a dance teacher, being able to mentor less experienced students and help them,” English and Jazz Dance teacher April Oliver said.

Sophomore Mika Ng is a dancer well-versed in many styles, but stopped training in hip hop at the age of 12. But in a class that encourages exploration, she has found a place to rediscover this style. In her group she has been working with a few dancers who have built their artistic image focusing on hip hop and adding their own stylistic elements. Her group’s routine will be centered around the Mission Street Murals focusing on the grungy urban feel expressed through their street style dance.

“Advanced Jazz is a place where students can foster their creativity in dance and it’s so different from my studio because I don’t have much freedom of expression in my dancing there since I’m not allowed to choreograph,” Mika said. “I’m so thankful to try choreographing and incorporating my style in other people’s dancing and learn a ton of new different styles that I wouldn’t normally usually do.”

Shirley Cheng, the only dancer with Chinese style training in her class, has found appreciation for the artistic differences between her unique style and other more popular ones. Since she grew up practicing a very strict, textbook-style dance, this enabled her to teach her fellow dancers during different choreography projects. She will be performing a solo in Chinese style, sharing her unconventional dance to the audience under the international theme of SF MoMa.

“Jazz is pretty sassy and in Chinese dance it’s very refined and a lot more detail-oriented in terms of your hand gestures,” Shirley said. “I don’t study Chinese dance anymore so this is a really good opportunity for me to perform a Chinese dance piece that I would get elsewhere. I think for me Chinese dance is a more emotional experience to perform because I’m just more familiar with it.”

The finale is all of the dance show’s themes coming together. Five seniors are each choreographing a part of a medley to fully showcase their individuality and artistic differences. From sassy jazz funk to an airy lyrical segment, they encapsulate the complete assortment of style and experience among these dancers.

“I have a feeling that this dance show is going to be one of the best from all the years because not only are we super on top of everything in terms of scheduling and promotion, but also because of the quality of dances and the super innovative ways in which we are trying to approach all the styles is just off the charts.” senior Lisa Deng said.