This week in the dance studios we said “goodbye for now” to Tai Jiminez. Tai has been working with our students in ballet technique since 2010. The end of her final class turned into a spontaneous talk about her career as a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Boston Ballet, and her more recent calling to start dancing with her own movement vocabulary. As she leaves us to work more with her students at Boston Conservatory, Tai shared valuable words of wisdom for our students. The two areas of advice that stood out to me were “find ways to incorporate mindfulness practices for self care daily” and “if you need to dance to live, then dance,” or paraphrasing: “if dance is your calling, then do it – listen to your own inner voice.” The students sitting in that circle on the floor with Tai will never forget her generosity in that quiet thoughtful sharing. We will miss her so, so much, until the time when she comes back into our studios!
Never a dull moment goes by in Theatre & Dance. This week we had our first checkpoint for our favorite dance event, the “Dance Open”, this year directed by upper Uanne Chang. In the Tang we are completely transforming the space for our winter term production “She Kills Monsters” directed by faculty members Allen Grimm and Libby Jancsy, set by Brad Seymour and lights and costumes by Billy Murray. Also pictured, Tim Duffy at work in our scene shop.
This year’s Nutcracker includes new choreography from Estelle Zhu PA’20 for the Tea variation in Act II. Estelle, who is highly trained in traditional Chinese Dance, worked with dancers Claire Song and Candy, while Samantha Lee used her expertise in rhythmic gymnastics to improve upon our ribbon choreography! Here is a preview of the work in the studio.
I am always so grateful to the adults who volunteer to participate in the Party Scene for the Nutcracker. We rehearse every Thursday evening in the term for one hour. The best Thursday is the evening we all join Billy Murray in the dressing room area to try on the costumes. I was struck this year looking at the bodice of one of the dresses that has a hook and eye enclosure for all of the people who have done this part over the twenty year period! Thanks to Tina and Kevin Graber for playing the parents for many of these years and for helping me recruit all the other adults!
Students, in THD510, co-taught by LCG and Mr. Grimm, created the production of The 50% (Things We Are Too Scared To Say). The ensemble generated monologues and vignettes based on their own experiences with various aspects of identity, including race, class, gender, and sexuality at PA and beyond. Students were directed by Rhea Prem and Ria Vieira. Performance schedule: 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night (November 2 and 3) in the Theater Classroom, GW Hall. The play will also be performed on MLK Day, exclusively for the ninth grade class.
I can only imagine that when I am looking back as my time as chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance – our recent production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf will stand out as a high water mark. This was an outstanding collaboration from directors Allen Grimm and Linda Carter-Griffith, set designer Jake Josef with lights and costumes by Billy Murray. I have never seen an ensemble cast more committed to a project. The student actors and technicians made this script come alive in such an impactful way. I look at this photo of the cast with such admiration. To mark the passing of the playwright, attached is an article of “seven flames” kindled – I am pretty sure there are many, many more flames out there ignited by Ntozake Shange work.
Phillips Academy Department of Theatre and Dance is preparing for its season’s premiere with Welcome to Arroyo’s, transforming the Steinbach Theatre into the Lower East Side dive and bringing the history of hip-hop to the Andover community. Written by Kristoffer Diaz, Welcome to Arroyo’s is a family comedy filled with hilarious and touching moments about the importance of family, community, music, and identity told through the hip-hop and rap stylings of Trip and Nelson, the MC’s of Arroyo’s lounge. Al Arroyo struggles to bring to life the formerly known bodega owned by his/her late mother, into a thriving Lower East Side lounge, called Arroyo’s. His/her younger sister Molly is constantly rebelling against society and in particular, a young NYPD cop by the name of Derek Jeter. Lelly Santago, a graduate student in New York, has recently discovered what has to be the most well-kept secret in hip-hop history and has now made it her mission to share the news with all of New York.
Latinx culture, infused with the four elements of hip-hop, along with the style and essence of New York City, Welcome to Arroyo’s features lessons in identity, DJ and MC work, graffiti, and hip-hop music all in one show.
Directed by Allen Grimm and Libby Jancsy, Welcome to Arroyo’s opens Thursday, November 8, and runs through November 11. Show times are available below. All shows take place in the Steinbach Theatre, located in the George Washington Building.
Thursday, November 8 at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, November 9 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 10 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 11 at 2:00 p.m.
Interpreting the theme of “Good & Evil”, the all-student produced Grasshopper Night thrilled audiences for four sold-out performances during Family Weekend. The variety show featured numbers from Drumline, Azure, the Yorkies, Keynotes, Hypnotiq, Footnotes, Blue Strut, SLAM, and many more.