A palpable sense of excitement filled the Florence Schwimley Little Theater as the lights dimmed, each audience member awaiting one of the most anticipated shows this winter: Dance Production (DP). Every year, Berkeley High School’s (BHS) DP class delivers an exhilarating spectacle filled with emotional, animated, and thought-provoking dances, complemented by the ever-lively audience; this year was no exception.
On January 11, 12, 18, and 19, DP gave its winter performance. Every day for the past five months, performers have diligently rehearsed in their fourth period A-building classroom space, taking the time to perfect each piece.
The class provides the highest caliber of this art form at BHS, requiring dancers to complete a competitive audition process in the previous year. Despite this, BHS senior Lydia Macy said, “The class itself fosters a very supportive environment for us.” It is unique in that every dance is student-choreographed. This, combined with the taxing nature of dance, makes DP an extraordinarily demanding class. “Choreographing for DP was a challenging but rewarding process,” said Macy. It is really vulnerable to channel your emotions into a piece of work that will be shown to the community, but it is also incredibly comforting and healing to use choreography as an outlet to communicate things that I cannot convey with words.”
Before the show, DP supervisor Linda Carr gave a short introduction that highlighted this year’s more conceptual approach, a fact that became increasingly clear as the show progressed.
“What stands out to me about this year’s DP show compared to previous years is the amount of vulnerability in many of the pieces and the thought that each choreographer put into their piece as an artist. Instead of making pieces that were just crowd pleasers, we pushed ourselves to be honest in our work and take creative risks,” said Macy. Many of the dancers echoed Macy’s words, revealing just how personal this show was to them. BHS junior Desmond O’Shea said, “Performing was wild … you really have to put all of yourself in the piece.”
The sheer emotion presented in the show clearly resonates with the audience, which is perhaps what makes it so popular and keeps people coming back each year. “Performing our shows is always a very special experience. It is when the pieces we have been working on for months really come to life,” said Macy.