By, Jamila O. ’19
Leading up to the completion of the Lubin O’Donnell Center, news of a new on-campus dance studio garnered much excitement from students, who were thrilled to finally have a space to learn, practice, and incorporate dance into their schedules at Winsor. Following the building’s opening in 2015, students quickly took advantage of the new array of dance opportunities ranging from for-credit courses to recreational or extracurricular groups. Since its inception, the program has expanded considerably: each year, a variety of new styles of dance and performance opportunities have been made available to both Upper and Lower School students. The formation of the Winsor Dance Company in 2017 and the creation of the Advanced Contemporary after-school and Arts Block choreography workshops in 2018 are some of the recent additions to the dance program, which places particular emphasis on student artistry and creativity through independent choreography. Most recently, the Dance Department announced “Dance Around the Block,” a collaborative contemporary dance project between Winsor and the Boston Latin School.
Seniors Katie T. ’19 and Grace W. ’19 have continued their impressive dance careers at Winsor. Both Katie and Grace have been involved in Winsor’s dance program since its early days and are also founding members of the Winsor Dance Company.
Which dance projects are you involved in at Winsor right now?
Katie T.: Currently, I am working on the Winsor/BLS piece for the dance concert in February. During Performing Arts Block and after school, [I’ve] been working on a solo.
Grace W.: I’m currently in the Winsor/BLS choreo workshop and also working on a student-choreographed piece with two friends.
When and how did you originally become interested in dance?
KT: I started dancing at the Andover School of Ballet when I was two years old. Since then, I have taken ballet, modern, jazz, lyrical, tap, contemporary, and even a few hip hop classes at various studios and summer programs, but my favorite genre of dance is classical jazz, which I studied at Jeannette Neill’s Dance Studio as part of their pre-professional youth company, Boston Youth Moves. What I love about dance is how much it allows one to improve—for example, every time one starts learning a piece of choreography, the steps seem difficult, the musicality complicated. However, after running the piece many times and thinking about it even outside of the dance studio, in one’s kitchen or car or at school, the piece slowly comes together on both an individual level and a group level. After the steps are learned, one can focus on the details, one’s quality of movement and expression.
GW: I started dance when I was three. I quit at around age seven, but decided to pick it up again in seventh grade. I primarily do Chinese classical and folk dance outside of school, so my favorite part is getting to celebrate my culture through movement and music. Chinese dance is extremely challenging, but figuring out the nuances of the movements and the poses is ultimately what keeps me interested! There are also many, many styles, so each dance feels different.
What is your favorite piece that you have done at Winsor and why?
KT: My favorite piece I’ve done at Winsor is probably the one that Claire [G. ’18], Alison [P. ’18], Grace, Lucy [N.’19], and I performed at Upper School Meeting last spring. I choreographed a portion of the dance, and I really enjoyed teaching my steps to my peers and performing them in front of the Upper School. In fact, although Ms. M. also choreographed some of it, the piece was very much student-driven: we chose the music, the qualities of movement we wanted to include, and the costumes, and we worked to choreograph it. I also really liked the piece I was in as part of David Parker and the Bang Group’s Nut/Cracked during my sophomore year. It was awesome to perform in a show with professional dancers and to learn professional choreography!
GW: I think I loved most of the pieces I’ve done at Winsor, but my favorite is definitely the trio [that] Katie, Claire, and I [performed] to “On My Own” by TroyBoi.
Can you give any preview of Winsor’s upcoming dance projects?
KT: There is a lot of student choreography this year and probably a greater breadth of styles of dance than we’ve ever had for the dance concert—ballet, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, pointe, cultural, and more! The BLS students are bringing new talent to Winsor, and as of right now, it seems like the piece will be a mix of styles, as each dancer has a different background in terms of the classes they take, so it should be very interesting to watch.
To someone considering joining dance at Winsor, what would you say?
KT: We’d love to have you join our community! There are many ways to get involved, [and] the dance concert is a perfect time for those who haven’t been involved in Winsor dance before to try it out by choreographing or by being a part of someone else’s choreography.