YDC members dancing to the piece "Rescue" created by Laurel Baumann. (Photo by Erin Quaid)
YDC members dancing to the piece "Rescue" created by Laurel Baumann.

Photo by Erin Quaid

Students become the choreographer in YDC

March 2, 2020

Friday mornings, while most students are still at home getting ready for school or still asleep, York Dance Company members are in the black box studio by 6:45 a.m. getting ready to show off their best dance moves. York Dance Company (YDC) is a non-competitive dance group where students put in countless hours to perfect difficult pieces and perform throughout the year.

Besides being choreographed by Coach Michelle Jensen, during second semester students are given the opportunity to audition to be a choreographer and their piece will be performed at the annual spring dance concert on March 11th. Anyone is able to audition to be a student choreographer, their only requirement is to perform a one minute piece that the student has come up with. From there, groups are assigned, and everything then falls into the hands of the student choreographer.

“[Jensen] has a really great artistic vision and she can put really good dancers in groups that are perfect for them,” student choreographer Arianna Kapotas said. “Throughout practice, she’ll float around and give her own feedback and advice so it doesn’t feel like we are completely alone in the process.”

Before auditions can even begin, YDC dancers must use their creativity and come up with an idea for their piece. Students start preparing their pieces as early as October in order to perfect their idea exactly how they envisioned it. 

“So one day I was just really mad at my mom, and I thought [the piece] will be about this,” student choreographer Tessa Olson said. “Teenagers are so angry a lot of the time and not a lot of people understand what exactly goes on at school. Our parents don’t see how we are with our friends.”

Students are able to use the self-choreographed opportunity to express their emotions using their creativity through dance. For many of these choreographers a dance is not just movement to music, but something that is able to depict lessons, and really bring out emotions from your audience and performers.

“My piece is a lyrical piece to the song ‘Not About Angels’ by Birdy,” Kapotas said. “ [The song] is really emotional and sad but I think it really has a good message about how people die and that’s something that happens to all of us. We must cherish the moments that you have with each other because you never know when it will be someone’s last day, and to live life in the moment.”

YDC is just one of the many communities at York that offers students the chance to feel as though they are a part of a family.

“[YDC] is a great community where kids are supporting each other whether they’re there to be a dancer or they’re there to be a body for another individual,” Jensen said.  “But also for the choreographer, it’s a safe space for them to learn and grow and have their peers support them along the road. It’s just a very cool atmosphere that we’ve created down in the black box.”

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