Dancers Throw Themselves into RnR Performance

by Isabella Pilot ’18

Every March, thousands of patrons from the Sherwood community and beyond flock to the Ertzman Theatre to witness the annual production of Rock ‘n Roll Revival. Hours upon hours of rehearsal are put towards perfecting lyrics, harmonies, rhythms, and dances.

While all singers learn some form of choreography, a select group of students—twelve girls and twelve boys along with a small “troupe”—are chosen to be the main dancers, performing complex lifts, jumps, and steps in about 20 of the show’s 41 numbers. They may be flashing big smiles on stage, but the Rock ‘n Roll dancers face lots of challenges behind the scenes.

Ten of the twelve main girl dancers and five out of six girls in the troupe are also members of the Poms squad, whose competition season lines up with Rock ‘n Roll’s rehearsal season. “Balancing Rock ‘n Roll and Poms can get difficult and exhausting, especially on days that we have Poms practice, then Rock ‘n Roll practice, then a basketball game to perform at right afterwards. But we do it because we love dancing and performing,” said senior Poms officer Kali Dang.

And while lots of the girls are familiar with being on stage, it is a different story for the boys. Most of them have little or no experience dancing. However, many do have experience on the football field, giving them the strength and agility to lift the girls with ease. “The audition really threw me off because I had never done any dancing like that, but once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t too bad,” said junior Ajeet Choxi, who also plays for the varsity football team.

Because many of the girls have years of practice under their belts, they help their partners get used to this new sport and art form. “Most of the guys can have trouble picking up the steps at first, but they made dance for a reason and they always end up getting the hang of it,” said Dang.

While the jaw-dropping stunts may appear to be the biggest responsibility held by a dancer, they have other duties as well. For one, not only do they have to learn their own dances, but many also volunteer to choreograph dances for the background vocalists. Also, some dancers have solos to learn and memorize, such as senior Brooke Weichel who will be performing “Stupid Cupid” by Connie Francis.

This year’s show, “Love and Heartbreak,” is under new leadership for dance. Sherwood alumna Dottie Yahr and Samantha Felice are serving as head choreographers, and Giana Bartolini (‘15) is assistant choreographer. “Dottie is a former Ravens cheerleader and she set up a stunting workshop on January 26 with other former and current Ravens cheerleaders so that we could learn new tricks and lifts,” said Weichel.

Between lightning fast costume changes, frequent backstage sprints, and the occasional dropping of a partner, Rock ‘n Roll dance is a huge challenge, but Dang believes that it is all worth it, saying, “It can be overwhelming having to remember so much while smiling and trying to make it look easy, but it’s so much fun to dance with my friends every day and on stage in the show.”