This article was originally published in the Fall 2011 Harker Quarterly.
The Harker School’s junior varsity and varsity dance troupes participated in the first dance camp at the upper school campus, run by the United Spirit Association (USA), from Aug. 10-12. USA Dance is the official member organization of the United States Olympic Committee and is the official international liaison for U.S dance teams. The intensive three-day camp was run by USA instructor Brittanee Lujan and led by new-to-the-upper- school dance teachers Karl Kuehn and Amalia De La Rosa.
De La Rosa and Kuehn opted to do a “home camp” this year, meaning a USA instructor came to Harker specifically to work with Harker’s dance teams.
The camp helped students develop a wide range of skills, and focused especially on learning technique and choreography, as well as team-building exercises. Each day the dancers learned material from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., including routines in hip-hop, jazz and lyrical styles, and a fun camp routine that is learned by dancers all across the nation attending USA camps.
At lunchtime and on breaks, the students participated in the team- building activities, including a Crazy Costume Relay and T-shirt-making project. They also had a technique class each day, during which the girls learned advanced across- the-floor progressions including battements, pirouette combinations and tricks, and jeté combinations.
On the last day of camp, the troupes wrote their own constitutions for the year, which included their team goals and expectations. Then, for the last hour of the last day, parents joined the dancers and teachers for an open studio, which gave them a chance to see what the students had been working on and what they had accomplished.
The USA Dance instructor was continually impressed with the girls’ demeanor and skills throughout camp. So much so, in fact, that she awarded them with the coveted USA Spirit Stick on the last day of camp. The Spirit Stick is a special award for teams that display outstanding work ethic, teamwork, skill and a positive attitude. “Winning the Spirit Stick on the last day of camp is a great honor, as that team gets to keep the Spirit Stick at their school,” said De La Rosa. The teams were exhausted at the end of their intense three-day experience, but their hard work was well worth it. Overall, Kuehn and De La Rosa say, it was a great way to start the year.