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Dancing Through the Decades

A nostalgic nod to the decades that defined dance, this year’s Upper School Concert Dance Show transported its audience to scenes from yesteryear, paying homage to the 1940s–early 2000s.

To open the performance, junior Savannah tapped and twirled in a bright yellow raincoat to “Singin’ in the Rain.” Next, Jamie (junior) took the stage with a lyrical piece set to Elvis’ powerful ballad, “Unchained.” Her soulful movement told the story of a melancholic 1950s housewife in love.

Seamlessly sashaying from one decade to another, the rest of the show featured a group number set to a toe-tapping tune from the musical “Hairspray,” a groovy ‘70s contemporary solo by Jesse (senior), ‘80s favorites complete with the legendary lift from “Dirty Dancing,” and a hip-hop number spanning the ‘90s into the early 2000s set to House of Pain and Rihanna’s “Pon de Replay”.

“I have a deep love of music from all decades and genres,” said Upper School dance teacher and director Avery Lux. “I was trying to think of a way to combine vastly different songs and styles of dance while maintaining a cohesive theme for the show. I was also exploring impactful ways to teach the students about the progression of dance through American history and pop culture influences of the time.”

The rehearsal and choreography process began at the start of the school year as students had a lot (of decades) to dive into. Avery and her dancers spent the season exploring various dance technique, qualities of movement, and different genres ranging from classical dance to contemporary and commercial.

“Just as dance is informed by pop culture and media trends on social media platforms today, dance was influenced by pop culture and media throughout history. I thought it would be a fun and relevant topic for the students to dive into and would encourage them to connect to different generations.”

Part of what was so fun about this particular show—besides the big hair, poodle skirts, and ‘90s grunge—was the personality infused into each of the solo pieces. Take Jesse’s ode to the ‘70s moment; Jesse worked hard with Ms. Lux to dig deep and bring forth movement that reflects who he is as a dancer and celebrates who he is as a person.

Dance continues to be a wonderful outlet for Principians to express themselves. The program encourages students to unleash their creativity by allowing them to explore new repertoires of dance and dabble in the choreography process. And as this particular “Dancing Through the Decades” show reminds us, the beauty and joy of dance is truly timeless.