Behind the Scenes: Spirit Dance 2019

Amy Yu, Editor-in-Chief

Spirit Week starts tomorrow, but for the past month, Spirit Dance practices for all grades at Palo Alto High School have been occurring during lunch and Tutorial at the lacrosse field. Each class’ dance incorporates their theme: the Class of 2023 has Jailbreak, the Class of 2022 has Lifeguards, the Class of 2021 has Pac-Man, and the Class of 2020 has Shrek.

The Spirit Dance leads, along with the Associated Student Body officers for their grade, select the songs, which incorporate the class’ theme, and mix them in a mash-up for the Spirit Dance.

Freshman Spirit Dance Lead Aicha Chraibi teaches choreography to representatives of the Class of 2023. According to Chraibi, this isn’t her first time choreographing a big dance, but it has been a bit difficult teaching the dance. “I’ve choreographed a competition dance, but right now, it’s stressful because everyone’s kind of doing their own thing,” Chraibi said. “But, I feel like once you finally get it all together, it’s going to make sense.” Photo: Ethan Chen

Freshman Aicha Chraibi, Spirit Dance lead for the Class of 2023, said the dance has brought the freshman class together and show their spirit.

“We just worked a lot on it [the dance] and the formations,” Chraibi said. “I think that it’s going to look really good at the end, and it’s just really fun.”

Chraibi said she was inspired by modern hip hop when she choreographed the dance and incorporated a lot of the moves that she does at the studio she attends, Captivating Dance by Nona. According to Chraibi, she didn’t plan on leading the dance, but stepped up with freshman Evie Barclay after the first couple practices.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to be more involved in school and do things with my grade,” Chraibi said.

Like Chraibi, sophomore Spirit Dance lead Marilyn Yin said she wanted to incorporate music that would be entertaining for both the audience and the dancers.

“We wanted to have music that’s popular now, so when we perform, it’s also a fun dance to watch,” Yin said. “We also wanted to add dance moves that were popular and modern.”

According to Yin, this is her second year choreographing the Spirit Dance. She was recruited with sophomore Riley Herron to lead the dance since they were both on the Paly Dance Team.

“We want everyone to participate and have fun,” Yin said. “It’s really about coming together as a class.”

Junior Spirit Dance lead Lai-Ling Bissett also said that it is her second year choreographing the Spirit Dance. She choreographed the dance for the Class of 2021 last year for the Where’s Waldo theme, which featured junior Atticus Scherer as Waldo.

Scherer, who is participating in the dance again, said that he enjoyed being Waldo, but he doesn’t plan on being in the spotlight again this year.

“You don’t have to be the star to have a good time,” Scherer said. “It [the dance] is so fun and Lai-Ling is great [at choreography].”

According to Bissett, the songs used in the dance are from the 80s because of Pac-Man’s popularity at that time. She also said she choreographed the dance around the game.

“It’s basically just supposed to like simulate a Pac-Man game,” Bissett said. “The theme sort of progresses through [the song] like starting playing a game and struggling with the game, then finally winning the game.”

Junior Spirit Dance lead Lai-Ling Bissett demonstrates the dance moves to the Class of 2021. In her 10 years of dance experience, Bissett has choreographed dances in the past, including last year’s Spirit Dance for the class of 2021. “It’s basically just supposed to like simulate a Pac Man game,” Bissett said. “We use like 80s inspired songs because that’s when Pac Man was like popular.” Photo: Ethan Chen

Senior Leila Khan, a Spirit Dance lead for the Class of 2020, said she wants this dance to top the previous years. Khan said that she and the rest of the senior Spirit Dance leads — Olivia Ramberg-Gomez, Haley Ho and Taylor Yamashita — are focusing on practicing more and recruiting more people to achieve this goal.

“We know that the senior dance must be the best every year since parents and everyone see it,” Khan said. “So we knew we had to make it even more special this year.”

According to the Paly ASB website, the winners for best Spirit Dance earn 4,000 points, second place receives 3,000 points, third place receives 2,000 points and last place earns 1,000 points. Additionally, each dance must include at least 10 dancers and will receive five extra points per additional dancer. All Spirit Dances will be performed after school rally Friday on the football field.

Scherer said he encourages more students to join the Spirit Dance.

“You have to show your spirit for your grade,” Scherer said. “It’s so much fun to be out here with all your friends learning a dance.”