Dance team prepares for spring show

Sofie Zalatimo and Saachi Nagar

During the Festival of Champions competition on Feb. 26 at Cupertino High School, dancers from the Palo Alto High School dance team perform à la seconde turns in their “X-Small” routine. With the competition season complete, the team’s next performance will be its annual spring show at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Performing Arts Center. According to coach Alanna Williamson, the performance will showcase the dancers’ improvement throughout the year. “When I watch the videos of them doing the routines in the beginning of the year, like competition or half times, and then watch them do it now, it’s very clear how much they’ve grown as dancers,” Williamson said. (Photo: Sofie Zalatimo)

Featuring pieces from all throughout the school year, the Palo Alto High School dance team will host its annual spring show at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Performing Arts Center.

Due to COVID-19, the team was unable to host the show for the past two years. Dance Coach Alanna Williamson said she looks forward to bringing the annual in-person event back to campus.

“I’m really, really excited to have it back,” Williamson said. “The last time we did it, the seniors were freshmen. It’s really fun because we get to do all of their dances from the entire year.”

According to Williamson, the performance includes both competition pieces as well as the team’s halftime routines from the season, requiring the dancers to rehearse a wide variety of choreography.

“It’s kind of stressful leading up to it because we have so many dances to keep in our heads, but I think that’s kind of what makes it fun,” Williamson said. 

Team captain Riley Herron said the team reviews one dance during each practice, appointing a team officer to lead the session. According to Herron, a senior, while the process of reviewing pieces is exciting, it can also be challenging.

“It’s always surprising to see the vast amount of choreography that we remember due to the number of dances we store in our head,” Herron said. “A few of our dancers have been absent due to COVID-19 or other commitments, and since we go over one dance a day, when we don’t have everyone there, it’s challenging to make sure we have cleaned and retaught ourselves the dance.”

Herron said the team plans to learn a new piece in addition to the many they are reviewing.

“I’m most looking forward to our new hip hop piece that we’re learning a week before the show,” Herron said. “This will be a super fun piece that differs a ton from our other dances.”

In addition to including all Paly Dance pieces, the show will also feature performances from Paly’s Dance 1 and Dance 2 classes, as well as the K-Pop Club. According to teacher Alyssa Bond, Dance 1 and 2 students will perform a tap piece choreographed by Bond, with Dance 2 students also performing self-choreographed dances in styles such as jazz and contemporary. 

“When students get a chance to perform art for an audience, it allows the opportunity to give it more life and energy, and getting the live feedback from a crowd is invigorating,” Bond said. “It’s a fairly easy performance opportunity that we work on in class and PRIME, so students who might not be able to perform in a more time-intensive show can have the chance to perform art live.”

Bond said she has enjoyed watching the dancers grow throughout their preparation for the show.

“Giving dancers and choreographers the opportunity to perform their work for a live audience is always so exciting,” Bond said. “Watching them blossom and come alive on stage is well worth the hard work we all put into the show.”

Sophomore dance team member Rachel Ho said the show allows her to share her work with those who have not been able to attend sports games or off-campus competitions.

“I think I’m just really excited to have my friends and family come and watch because it was a little bit difficult to have them come over to the half times or things like that,” Ho said. “I’m just really excited to show everyone all the hard work that we’ve been putting in throughout this entire year.”

Ho said she is most looking forward to performing a halftime routine that the team’s captains choreographed for a basketball game this year. 

“It was really fun to do because it was a little bit more complex than some football ones we do because, in the basketball gym, it [the audience] is closer so you can see more details,” Ho said. “I just thought that one was really fun because it was a little bit different from competition pieces.”

Tickets to the show are available for purchase here at a cost of $2 for Paly students in advance, $5 for Paly students at the door, and $10 for adults. The show is free for Paly staff.