Dancers to ‘break new ground’ with winter concert

Jan. 7-8 performances to be choreographed by company directors, outside professionals and dedicated to the construction of a new dance studio on campus

Senior+Sydney+Lowe+rehearses+for+the+winter+dance+concert+during+the+fifth-period+pre-professional+dance+class+in+the+black+box+theater+on+Dec.+2.+While+dance+director+Rachel+Murray+said+the+dance+program+is+grateful+to+the+theatre+program+for+letting+the+dancers+use+the+venue+for+dance+classes%2C+the+program+longs+to+have+a+dedicated+space+of+its+own.+Construction+on+the+new+dance+studio+will+begin+this+summer.+

Avi Zeifman

Senior Sydney Lowe rehearses for the winter dance concert during the fifth-period pre-professional dance class in the black box theater on Dec. 2. While dance director Rachel Murray said the dance program is grateful to the theatre program for letting the dancers use the venue for dance classes, the program longs to have a dedicated space of its own. Construction on the new dance studio will begin this summer.

Perla Vela, Mac photojournalism

“Sometimes … to move into new spaces of growth and development, one has to break old ground and build anew,” Youth Dance Company director Rachel Murray said.

There are great things that happen behind the scenes, there are not so great things that happen, and so just being a part of the process makes the final product even more [gratifying].”

— Youth Dance Company director Natalie Uehara

“Breaking Ground” is the title of this year’s winter concert. On Jan. 7 and 8 at the AISD Performing Arts Center, dance majors will perform various pieces dedicated to the start of construction of a new dance facility at McCallum.

“This summer McCallum will be breaking ground on a dedicated facility for dance,” Murray said. “This is something that our dance community worked very hard to achieve, and it’s been years in the making. We don’t have a space of our own, and it’s very challenging for the dancers and for us. While we are so grateful that theatre allows us to use the black box, we desperately need our own dedicated dance space. The dancers deserve it.”

Pieces in the concert have been created by both Youth Dance Company directors Rachel Murray and Natalie Uehara as well as outside choreographers.

One of the highly anticipated performances is the Emerging Dancer’s Flamenco piece. Dancers have been rehearsing consistently with choreographer Olivia Chacon.

Choreographed by Olivia Chacon, the emerging dance troupe’s flamenco performance is among the highly anticipated performances of the winter concert. When this year’s dance seniors were freshman in March of 2019, it was their turn to do a flamenco dance for the winter concert. (Dave Winter)

Students began working on their pieces earlier this school year and after not having normal shows for the past two years, everyone is eagerly awaiting show day. Coming back from a virtual year has been an uphill battle but also a rewarding one.

“​Creating and preparing for MAC Dance’s winter concert has been so exciting,” Murray said. “I am thrilled that we are back to in-person learning and rehearsing. As dancers, we thrive on connecting and creating as a community, and virtual rehearsing (which is what we did last year) is not nearly as satisfying for choreographers or dancers. So basically, this year is a dream.”

This summer McCallum will be breaking ground on a dedicated facility for dance. … We desperately need our own dedicated dance space. The dancers deserve it.”

— Youth Dance Company director Rachel Murray

The process of curating and finalizing these dances is both time-consuming and challenging but the payoff is incredible, when asked about the experience as an audience member.

“It’s very different,” Uehara said. “There are great things that happen behind the scenes, there are not so great things that happen, and so just being a part of the process makes the final product even more [gratifying]. You become more proud of the final product than if you were just an audience member.”

As the performance dates approach, dancers and directors alike are getting more and more excited to present their work.

“Everyone has progressed so beautifully,” Murray said. “I am excited to be able to showcase that to our community. The choreography this year is so moving. I think that is because everyone has a lot of pent-up energy after being in lockdown last year. The audience is in for a real treat.”