TCHS Dance Department
Today, Before COVID-19= New Voices 2020
by Miss Zwierzynski on April 24th, 2020

Celebrating New Voices 2020

Today would have marked the Dance Department's annual dance showcase, New Voices 2020. The showcase not only serves a community performance event, but also as an authentic summative assessment for all of our CTE Dance courses. Today I held an optional virtual meet up with the Dance students from 1-4pm via google meet to celebrate. The students are certainly mourning the loss of these educational experiences that they value so dearly. Outside of the associated learning objectives, these events are integral in building our students' social emotional competencies, 21st century skills, and rapport with one another. In lieu of what is normally celebrated tonight, I want to share some of the accomplishments that would have been on stage.

Trenton Youth Dancers

This February we launched Trenton Youth Dancers (TYD), under the umbrella of Trenton Arts Princeton. This program spearheaded by Lou Chen, is a partnership between the Princeton Department of Music, Lewis Center for the Arts, and the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. Prior to its early termination due to Covid-19, TYD was a weekly Saturday enrichment program for TCHS Dance Students. The students received transportation to Princeton's campus, participated in workshops with a variety of student dance companies at Princeton University, attend lunch with live performances, and workshopped choreographic ideas. The TYD program would have shared a piece in tonight's performance collaboratively created between TYD fellow Sophie Blue and the dancers. I am ever grateful to Lou Chen and Sophie Blue for pioneering this partnership.

CTE Guest Artist Residencies

As a first in our program's history, each course in the dance curriculum was paired with a guest artist for a series of workshops this spring. This evening's performance would have premiered three works set on each level of the dance department's students. Lara Gonzalez of Marafanyi Dance, Drum and Song was instructing the Dance I students about West African dance forms through their residency. The Philadelphia based breakdance company, Hip Hop Fundamentals, was scheduled to work with our Dance II students. A10 Hairy Legs, an all male modern dance company in NJ, was creating work in collaboration with the Dance III students. Here is a quick video of their first two rehearsals with Alex Biegelson, Associate Artistic Director of 10HL.
While these residencies were not able to conclude before we began distance learning, the interactions were rich. This work was supported by our Perkins Funding. Many thanks are in order to Andrew Seabert and Keysha Jackson, for helping to facilitate these residencies.

Premiere of Four Student Works

This evening also would have featured the premiere of four student choreographed works. The selected choreographers are seniors: Nazirah Bethea, India Bracey, Izir Lewis, and Tyrese Perkins. As a component of the Dance III curriculum, each senior submitted a choreographic proposal to a panel of adjudicators, comprised of our middle school dance educators, to be selected as student choreographers. The proposals required students to create a biography, artist statement, sample of their choreography, and an abstract of their choreographic idea. The students led a series of rehearsals to bring their ideas to reality on their senior class.
I would like to highlight one senior in particular for his outstanding artistry. Izir Lewis was selected to present his senior piece, M.I.A, at Dance Up!. Dance Up! is a national platform for emerging teen choreographers. His dance was selected by a committee of renowned choreographers Kimberly Bartosik, Dani Cole, Taryn Kaschock Russell, and John-Mario Sevilla for its demonstration of artistic merit, which was based on the dance‚Äôs theme, development, composition, invention and performance. We are truly sorry that the COVID-19 pandemic prevents us from traveling to NYC to share his work at the historic 92Y Harkness Dance Center. 

Outreach and Engagement of Middle School Dance Programs

During our technical week of rehearsals, 200 middle school students from our partner schools of Hedgepeth Williams Middle School of the Arts and Dunn Middle School, were scheduled to attend a preview performance. This preview aimed to share sections of performance, highlight the dance curricular options throughout the district, and engage our student populations in a question and answer portion. The students and their families were also offered subsidized tickets to our evening performance. I want to thank Ms. Bose and Ms. Grant at the high school for supporting this endeavor. I would also like to thank district dance educators Anthony Deleon, Christina Trautwein, Emily Funicello and their respective administrators Adrienne Hill and Melissa Wyatt.

Congratulations to our Seniors!

This performance would have marked the last performance for our seniors. Congratulations to:

  • Nazirah Bethea*
  • India Bracey*
  • Destiny Burgos*
  • Izir Lewis*
  • Sincere McGrady
  • Aaliyah Oliver
  • Princilia Santana*
  • Lesley Serrano*
  • Kortney Solomon*
  • Tyquasha Tarver*
  • Aniya Warner*
  • Arianna Wright

*Denotes students in the CTE Dance Cohort 2020

We hope you land back with TCHS soon!



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