This article was originally published in the fall 2012 Harker Quarterly.
This summer Harker varsity and junior varsity dancers won a number of awards and earned the opportunity to perform in Hawaii and London.
The United Spirit Association Dance Camp, held in July at the University of California, Santa Cruz, featured classes on technique and choreography and also featured a number of competitive challenges. Under the guidance of upper school dance teachers Amalia De La Rosa and Karl Kuehn, the Harker dancers won several awards.
The group comprised Ria Desai, Mi- chaela Kastelman and Molly Wolfe, grade 12; Jenny Dai, grade 11; Noel Ba- nerjee, Darby Millard, Erika Olsen and Jacqui Villarreal, grade 10; and Selin Ozcelik, Emily Pan, Kristen Park, Ankita Sharma and Madison Tomihiro, grade 9.
As a group, the Harker dance group was awarded a “superior” plaque, the highest group recognition at the camp, and was invited to perform at next year’s NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii. They also won the teamwork challenge and received an award for being the most improved team at the camp.
Kastelman, Millard and Villarreal were recognized as All-American dancers, an honor that included an invitation to perform in London with the United Spirit Association. For their overall technique and performance acumen, Kastelman, Banerjee, Millard and Villarreal all received “super sensational” ribbons. Millard and Kastelman reached the final round of competition and were among the top 10 dancers at the camp.
Desai’s and Sharma’s efforts in drill classes earned them first- place ribbons and Park and Ozcelik received second-place ribbons. In the drill competition, Sharma received a medallion for her second-place finish.
“It was really fantastic seeing the dancers take classes and participate with dance teams from all over California,” said Kuehn, noting that the students did a fantastic job representing Harker’s dance program.
“I am hoping the students walked away with a greater sense of team unity and Harker pride. This camp gave them a preview of what life is like as a professional dancer – taking classes, working on choreography and rehearsing all day long,” he said.
The junior varsity team is now working on their routine for the family picnic and the varsity troupe will be preparing for the homecoming festivities.
According to De La Rosa, a huge benefit was having members of both junior varsity and varsity participate, bringing together the whole dance department. “The dancers had an opportunity to challenge themselves both individually and as a team,” she added.