The Harker School’s yearly middle school dance performance, Dance Jamz, won over an excited audience for two weekend nights in early March at the Blackford Theater. Under the direction of middle school dance teacher Gail Palmer, along with co-directors Amalia Vasconi and Karl Kuehn, a collection of approximately 150 dancers from grade 6-8 performed an eclectic mix of dance styles in front of a vocal and visibly thrilled crowd of family, faculty and friends.
For one fast-paced hour, dancers moved through seventeen musical numbers, leading off with a heart-pumping, vibrant rendition of ACDC’s “Thunderstruck,” eliciting cheers from the first minute of their performance as sharp, in sync moves sent ponytails flying in front of a wall of color and light.
As the performances continued, the speakers cycled through early rock and breezy boogies, past contemporary hip-hop and club mixes, into soulful serenades and pop ballads. In one memorable sequence, set to songwriter and vocalist Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity,” dancers took turns performing delicate, graceful solos, extending across a central chair, as their collaborators moved around and behind them.
A few numbers later, a routine of contemporary pop artist Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me” began with a silhouetted tableau, in which the dark figures of eight dancers were isolated against a bright orange backdrop of light.
Dance Jamz is the culmination of many months of work for the dancers, who have taken classes in either jazz, modern, lyrical, ballet, tap or hip-hop, and then built on their foundation with weeks of rehearsal. Nearly one quarter of the performers were boys, who had three numbers of their own, including a contemporary hip-hop performance to Maroon 5’s “If I Never See Your Face Again,” and a heavily-costumed, flashy performance of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll.”
The dances also showcased some of the performers’ hidden talents: one number featured acrobatic cartwheels, and another saw the dancers take turns channeling pop stars as they lip synced. As the production came to a close, the student-performers were greeted with an echoing round of cheers, a fitting finale after sixty minutes of hooting and hollering.