Dance Program Expands, Opportunities for Winsor Dancers Abound

-By, Katie Tsai

In just two years, under the direction of performing arts instructor Ms. McKinley, Winsor has gone from having no dance program to having one with an abundance of exciting opportunities.

This fall, Upper School students, faculty, and staff are taking an intermediate-level dance technique class on Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. The participants learn various dance styles such as modern and ballet. Special guests include Jamie Brege from the Boston Ballet School and Akili Jamal Haynes, a live accompanist who plays everything from African drum beats to jazz piano during each lesson.

When asked what they like most about the class, students and faculty praised it. Madeleine M. ’18 said, “The best dance program I’m involved in is the afterschool program. I haven’t had the time to take dance for many years, and finally all the things that I knew are coming back, and it makes me really happy.” With just six students and three faculty and staff members, Ms. Powell, Ms. Rice, and Ms. Zhao, participating, Lucy N. ’19 responded, “It’s a lot better for me to learn in such a small class.” Muna B. ’19 likes that it provides her with “more of a connection to modern/mainstream dance.” Ms. Zhao appreciates that “it is not too hard,” so she can get good exercise. She said that another “cool thing about [it] is that we [have] a live drummer to accompany us.” Ms. Rice also likes Mr. Haynes’s live music, and she added, “The class is challenging yet manageable. It may take a few tries for me to learn something the correct way, but I leave every class feeling a sense of accomplishment.” Both Ms. Zhao and Ms. Rice strongly recommend the class to other faculty and staff members because it is a fun way to get exercise and come out of one’s comfort zone.

The Performing Arts Block (PAB) dance curriculum has also changed this year. Rather than focusing on improvisation and student-choreographed dances, Ms. McKinley is teaching students short dance combinations from musicals such as Grease, West Side Story, and Hamilton and social or folk dances like salsa, merengue, flamenco, and swing. Recently, students had the opportunity to try tap dance with Ms. Rich ’09, a new Winsor faculty member. Julia M. ’17, who is participating in the PAB dance class, said, “I love musical theater, so I’m really excited for that style of dance to be present at Winsor.”

In addition to the after-school dance technique class and the PAB dance class, Dance 1 and Dance 2 are curricular courses in which students learn about the underlying concepts of dance technique and about the history of dance. Students in these classes will also choreograph their own dances and improvise.

    Other exciting dance opportunities include performing in David Parker and The Bang Group’s Nut/Cracked at the Boston Center for the Arts in December, and in the Winsor dance concert in March. If you are interested, sign up sheets are posted next to the dance studio. All rehearsals will start in mid-November, and they will fulfill students’ physical education requirement. For more information, you may visit Ms. McKinley in the dance studio or the performing arts office, or email her at