This story originally appeared in the spring 2014 Harker Quarterly.
Students took charge as both dancers and choreographers to celebrate “Peace, Love, and Dance” at the 2014 upper school dance production, directed by dance teachers Amalia De La Rosa and Karl Kuehn. The production was staged in three parts, with each word of the show’s title corresponding to a section of the show.
“Peace” followed a thread from conflict to unity, with dancers performing to works such as the pensive “Heartbreak Warfare” by John Mayer, choreographed by De La Rosa, and the more energetic “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic, choreographed by Erika Olsen, grade 11.
In “Love,” Kuehn’s choreography for “Coin-Operated Boy” by The Dresden Dolls featured an inventive use of props, as the titular boys emerged from boxes as though they were action figures come to life. Other visuals elements included Natti Pierce-Thomson’s lighting design, which heightened the mood and atmosphere of each performance, and the costumes by De La Rosa, Kuehn and the student choreographers.
The final portion of the show, “Dance,” featured some of the most upbeat performances of the evening, with complex and spirited routines set to the likes of Groove Factory, Robyn and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This stage of the production also featured the lone solo performance of the show, as Angela Ma, grade 12, danced evocatively against a black backdrop to Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna.”
The show closed on an exhilarating note, with the production’s entire cast gathering on stage for the final number, and the excitement moved into the crowd, punctuated with a cascade of confetti.
Technical director Paul Vallerga and production manager Brian Larsen made sure the show ran smoothly, with the help of student crew members Sean Knudsen and Nicky Semenza, both grade 12; Alexander Thomas, Steven Wang and Harry Xu, all grade 11; and Justin Culpepper, grade 9.