On Thursday night at New Haven’s historic Shubert Theater, the 120 dancers of the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School showcased their talent and creativity to an audience of nearly 1000, including parents, teachers, friends, fellow students, and dance professionals from New Haven and around the region. The program: Winterfest 2013, including 22 pieces choreographed and rehearsed during the fall semester. In addition to performances of Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Modern Dance, the evening included cultural contributions as well, pieces inspired by Brazilian and African movement and dance. Mr. Hankey’s sophomore class brought a taste of culture from even farther away, from the other side of the world: Indonesia.
In collaboration with the International Silat Federation, the sophomores presented a dance piece inspired by the traditions of West Sumatra, Indonesia, where the Minangkabau culture is known for its unique styles of movement and dance, including Tari Piring, the Plate Dance, and Silat Randai, traditional theater-in-the-round. The students showcased elements of both styles in their piece, culminating in a series of smaller group arrangements performed in the center of the rest of the class, who were seated, demonstrating hand movements of Silat Tuo. In the background, a slideshow of images from around Padang, West Sumatra, in addition to the traditional Gamelan musical accompaniment, transported the audience to the Islands of Fire…
With many thanks to the Co-Op High School [Principal Frank Costanzo, Arts Director Suzannah Holsenbeck & Secretary Renee Whitaker] and specifically the Dance Department [Stephen Hankey and Lead Teacher Lindsey Bauer]. Special thanks also to the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in New York, and to the Saung Budaya Indonesian Dance Group for providing traditional sarongs for the dancers.
In class the following day, the dancers shared their feelings and feedback from the performance. Comparing to their experience as freshman, they unanimously remarked on their level of enjoyment and fun during their 4 pieces performed, and even from throughout the semester. While starting to gel as a class unit and continuing to grow as dancers, they all looked out for each other and did their best, not giving up when the practice became difficult. They shared their thanks and appreciation also for the opportunity to learn a cultural tradition that was quite new to them. Some entered the semester with backgrounds as hip-hop dancers, and din’t know what to expect at first. But they grew to enjoy the movements and appreciate the expansion of their repertoire and the addition of a new set of movements. Several remarked that their parents chose the Indonesian Inspiration piece as their favorite of the evening.
Please click through the images below for scenes from both the dress rehearsal and the performance itself.