TCHS Dance Department
by Miss Zwierzynski on April 29th, 2020

Listen to Ms. Z on "Let's Talk About...", a podcast produced by Princeton University's Pace Center for Civic Engagement

Ms. Zwierzynski was interviewed by host, Evan Schneider, to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on teaching practice. She shares information about distance learning and our program, Trenton Youth Dancers, which launched this February in collaboration with Princeton University.

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’s 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!

by Miss Zwierzynski on September 22nd, 2019

The learning never stops! Join the TCHS-VPA Dance Department in celebrating the Dance TCHS students on their accomplishments over the summer.

Student Feature: Izir Lewis

Izir Lewis, Class of 2020, received a full scholarship to attend the Rutgers Summer Dance Conservatory. The two week summer dance intensive allowed Izir to experience the rigor of a college dance program by taking daily technique classes, learning repertory, participating in workshops, and attending live dance performances, all while staying on the New Brunswick campus. 

Hear more about the experience from Izir:
"To me, summer intensives are important because it brings out the best dancer you can be. I've gained confidence and learned so much about myself as a person and a dancer. During the intensive, I took a modern, ballet technique, and improv class everyday. We also had Broadway jazz, hip hop, latin jazz master classes, and a master class taught by the Yin Yue dance company. Honestly my favorite part of attending the intensive was all the amazing dancers I got to meet. There is nothing better than being around people who all have similar goals as you. I've made so many amazing friendships." 
Check out more photos of Izir's summer experience on our Instagram:

Student Feature: India Bracey

India Bracey, Class of 2020, spent her summer with the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP).

Hear more about the experience from India:
"I went to Princeton University on weekdays for 6 weeks of the summer and took classes such as: Neuroscience, Art, Math, Literature, and College Admissions. During the summer I mastered the 3x3 Rubik’s Cube, took a traditional Chinese dance class, and completed a research project on memory as it is associated with color and music. Throughout this summer, I was challenged with rigorous work, but I can say that I have grown even more as a scholar.  I enjoyed working with my fellow scholars in my cohort. I was able to work on my common app and start the college process with the people I spent my high school summer with. I’m so glad that I was able to get ahead start on the college admissions process to prepare me for senior year. This experience has strengthened me as a scholar and as an artist because it has expanded my creativity. Not only was I pushed academically, but I was able to  think further into what I want to study in college. While touring different colleges, I was able to find colleges that had strong dance programs. This made me want to study dance in college even more!"
Check out more photos from India's experience on our Instagram:

Alumni Spotlight: Jose Lapaz Rodriguez

Dance TCHS alum Class of 2017, Jose Lapaz Rodriguez, appeared as a cameo artist with 10 Hairy Legs for the Public Work’s production of Hercules. Performances ran August 31st - Sept 8th.

Hear what Jose had to say about his experience:
"Hercules was quite a fun process! The  professionalism that was demanded was something I am getting accustomed to. Every night we performed Hercules was magical! The energy of the audience is what uplifted and motivated us. I got to work beside James and Jellani, which was mind blowing because they are Tony award winning artists. Overall, the entire experience was beautiful and spectacular to have shared the stage with legends like Roger Bart (voice of original young hercules) who graduated from my school, Mason Gross School of the Arts."

Alumni Spotlight: Jefferson Konah

Jefferson Konah, Dance TCHS alum Class of 2017, earned his 200-hour yoga teacher certification with the Om Factory School of Yoga and Rutgers Community Arts (formerly Mason Gross Extension Division). Check out his yoga Facebook page "Yoga with Jonah". 

Faculty Spotlight: July Highlight

During July, Ms. Brown, Mr. Forte, Dr. Kellogg, and Ms. Z attended the Arts Integration Leadership Institute in Princeton, NJ. This summer institute that focuses on the development of school/district projects that stress arts integration with NJ’s Student Learning Standards. The VPA teachers are excited to implement more arts integrated instruction during the 2019-2020 school year.

During an evening event, Dance TCHS alum Jefferson Konah, addressed a room of teachers, administrators, arts organizations, and policy makers while he performed an excerpt of working solo. Following his performance, he spoke equally eloquently and critically about his access to the arts.
Catch a glimpse of Jefferson's performance on our Instagram:

Faculty Spotlight: August Highlight

In August, Ms. Zwierzynski attended the American Ballet Theatre's National Training Curriculum Teacher Training Intensive for nine days in New York City. After a rigorous certification exam, we are happy to announce that Ms. Zwierzynski is an ABT ® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT ® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT ® National Training Curriculum. 

Ms. Zwierzynski received the American Ballet Theatre's Project Plie scholarship to attend this training.

Upcoming Announcements:

-Look for the VPA Newsletter!
-Parents: Joins us for Back to School Night on Thursday, September 26th

by Miss Zwierzynski on September 30th, 2018

Welcome Back to School
Welcome to our Monthly Blog Post

Parents, Students, Administrators, and Community Members,

Welcome back to the Dance TCHS website. Each month Ms. Zwierzynski will post here to share celebrations, instructional highlights, and important announcements from the TCHS-VPA Dance Department. 

New Dance Attire

This year every students enrolled in dance received a set of dance attire. Ladies received a leotard, black tights, pink tights, ballet slippers, and jazz shoes. Men received a black shirt, ballet pants, jazz pants, ballet slippers, and jazz shoes. 

We are proud to offer this dance attire so students can perform properly and safely in dance class, have audition ready attire, and realize themselves as pre-professional dancers. In this case, the uniform creates and instills pride in our students.

We are so grateful for the support from Ms. Bose, Ms. Grant, and the Trenton Board of Education.

Check out photos from the day when the students received their attire. 

Instructional Highlight:
Diving Into Choreography

As an introduction to choreography, Dance III completed a choreography task using action words and effort qualities. Check out the photos and video clip below.

Important Annoucements

Back to School Night 2018!
Join Ms. Z for Back to School Night on September 27, 2018.

by Miss Zwierzynski on May 21st, 2018

Thank you for joining us!

If you missed our performance, please check out the video!

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