“Valley Dances” puts its best foot forward in newest production
Updated: May 24, 2022
The student production prepared for the end-of-semester show that will range in dance styles.
By Cassandra Nava, Editor-in-Chief
Dancers shuffled onto the main stage, rehearsing for their first live performance in three years, and the final show in the Main Stage Theater.
“Valley Dances” will premiere on May 19 at 5:30 p.m., and on May 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. Audiences can expect nine pieces, with a rotating cast of 20 dancers. Audiences will see a range of genres and disciplines, including tap, ballet, contemporary and hip hop — all in just over an hour.
Adjunct professor Maya Zellman choreographed a waacking and street jazz inspired piece to Whitney Houston’s, “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Characterized by expressive poses and free flowing arm movements, waacking was popularized in Los Angeles in the ‘70s by LGBTQ communities. About eight dancers gathered for a Friday evening rehearsal, perfecting the piece for close to two hours.
“I want you guys to be super proud of what you've done in the semester,” said Zellman. “Don't give anybody less than what you've been giving me in rehearsals. Give them more.”
For some, the production has been in the works since as early as 2020. Director, producer and full time dance professor Elizabeth Casebolt required solos for her class two years ago. Because the students were robbed of a live performance, she plans on showing five of the students’ video solos in this year’s return to the stage, mixing mediums to celebrate the end of dancing in quarantine. Dancer Savanna Scott morphed her 2020 modern dance class final into a solo for the event.
While reaching out to former students to use their recorded works, former Monarch Noah Jackson decided to take a more active role in the production — as a guest choreographer. Of the nine scheduled pieces, three are choreographed by current students and one is choreographed by Jackson.
“I think it’s important to participate in live performances because of how necessary and exciting they are,” said the upcoming California Institute of the Arts student regardingValley’s upcoming show. “They are the very core and essence of the word “entertainment,” and give people that spark of light we all need. I think it’s most important for all performance artists, big and small, as we need to be reminded after this pandemic that our passion is not dead and in the past. It’s alive and well, and calling our name!”
The first performance in three years is not without precaution. According to Casebolt, in order to rehearse and even perform without masks, students must test for COVID-19 three times a week.
Although the students spent all semester practicing in the North Gym, Casebolt still called the theater “home,” as it is the stage that will culminate everyone’s hard work.
Tickets can be purchased online and at the door (cash only). Masks are required in the lobby and seating area.