By Jeshua Gunderson.
And What Makes Them Successful
At the end of every semester, the ballroom dance classes at Heritage put on a fantastic showcase. Although audience members see and enjoy the dances, they usually don’t know just how much work was put into pulling it off.
Jack and Jills
One difficult aspect of the showcase is a section where each class competes in Jack and Jill’s. During the first half of the semester, students learn many dances ranging from Waltz to Meringue that can be done at the Jack and Jills and, most importantly, social dances. During Jack and Jills, students show how well they know these dances by doing them with a random partner. This takes incredible foresight and practice to be able to perform in front of judges and an audience. The dances are not choreographed and often recently learned by the performers. The simple ribbons for the winners of each dance style are valuable to the dancers and well earned, especially when the students have twelve other couples to compete against. Jack and Jills add competition, excitement, and difficulty to the showcase.
The showcase is where distinction numbers are performed. Distinction numbers are some of the best dances performed during the night. Dancers who decide to do a ballroom distinction agree to one of the requirements of performing a choreographed dance during a showcase. Choreographing a dance takes a lot of time and creativity. The numbers are stressful to perform with only one other person on the stage. When done right, they can be memorable, passionate, and beautiful. Distinction numbers are often the highlight of the night because they are where all previous years of experience and skill are displayed.
Costumes, Tech, and Logistics
The second half of every semester in ballroom is full blown craziness. The songs, dances, themes, and choreography are all decided and perfected. Lighting, spacing, and formations are all set in place. It’s a time of repeats and counts. The Friday before the performance, there is a morning show where all Ballroom classes show and critique each others’ dances. Following the show, Ballroom III does an all day practice where they run the dances through with a fine-tooth comb. It is absolutely exhausting and crucial. The next week on the day of the showcase is when the dress and tech rehearsals are. Tech is where the lighting and sound are checked and decided and run through. Dress rehearsal has little to no breaks at all. It all leads up to that night of the performance.
The dances performed at the showcase are the real meat and meaning of the whole night. All the time and effort is shown when the classes perform. Some dances are ones learned during arts retreat. It’s pay off night where expression, spacing, and technique are crucial. It’s the night many have been anticipating and worrying about. What happens on the stage is a special kind of magic. The performers become a team. Costumes are arranged, hair is done, dances are ready. All that is left is to dance.