By SIA CHOKSHI ‘21 and KATHLEEN ZHOU ‘21
To Edison High’s resident dance teacher Mrs. Vicki Jenkins, art, and especially dancing, are central parts of being human. To Jenkins, that’s why Edison High’s Dance Day is so important: It connects the community with Edison High’s dance program, which are already few and far between in public schools, so prospective students know where to find the art of dancing.
Dance Day, a day where Edison High’s dance program hosts classes for both teenaged and young learners, is traditionally held in the high school’s dance room. As the only fundraiser the dance program holds, Dance Day finances amenities like yoga mats, costumes, field trips, and more. However, this year’s Dance Day looked a little different from year’s past. With COVID restrictions in place, students participated in classes remotely from home instead of in the studio.
The beginner classes were led by student teachers Shachi Patel ‘21, Krystal Ramnarine ‘21, and Alisha Edwards ‘22. The intermediate classes were taught by Ms. Lisa Harvie, choreographer and Vassar College faculty member; Ms. Hope Easterbrook, original cast member of the musical Hamilton and Jenkins’ former student; and Ms. Tara Madsen Robbins, critically acclaimed choreographer and faculty member in the dance program at Cab Calloway School of the Arts. Each class started with a warm-up with upbeat music, which led into students learning the routine before finally performing in unison.
At the end of each lesson, the dancers unmuted themselves and chorused a big “thank you!” to their teachers. This respect and love for dancing proved to be a consistent theme throughout Dance Day.
Easterbrook, expressed how her own experiences with dance led her to appreciate Dance Day. “Understanding how much of an impact my teachers and my educators had on my life, I’m able to use my education and privilege to give back to my community. It’s really become a great passion of mine,” she said.
EHS dancers were similarly touched by the experience of this year’s Dance Day. “I came out of this day not only with more knowledge of different genres of dance, but also a sense of community I’ve really longed for in virtual learning,” Shria Prakash ‘22 said.
“It’s amazing to learn from these professionals who still taught us despite everything being virtual!” said Sneha Rajagopalan ‘23, noting the grace of the guest teachers.
This year’s Dance Day was unlike any other in format, but nonetheless, both teachers and students put their best and hard working feet forward for the sake of dance.
As per Mrs. Jenkins’ sentiment, which many students no doubt echo, “My feet are killing me, my head hurts from looking at the computer, but I’m glad we could do it!”