Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Strengthening the dance program


photo by Sophie Kaplan

Junior Eilah Goldberg performs a glide across the floor during a dance clinic

Look in the cafeteria during an after-school dance clinic, and you’ll find a scene reminiscent of “High School Musical:” 20 students leaping and plieing between rows of tables as they hone their dance skills.

In the past few weeks, the athletics and arts departments have planned several after-school dance clinics throughout the fall in efforts to expand their dance program. These clinics are open to all upper school students regardless of dance experience, age or gender.

During the various clinics, dance instructor Melanie Barber helps participants explore a range of dance styles such as jazz and hip-hop. The dancers get exercise and some prepare for the dance team, a winter sport.

“[Dance] is a way of expressing yourself. It is a great way to stay in shape,” Barber said. “Sometimes you can’t sing or maybe you are not a great actor, but you need to move around, and it is a great way to stay active.”

Students come from every grade level and have differing levels of skill ranging from novices to years of dance experience, but despite this, a significant number of students enjoyed the workshops.

“One thing I really liked about the dance clinic was that we had an opportunity to improve upon [our] skills and learn new tips on the skills that we already know,” eighth-grader Catalina Werbin-Gradel said.

JDS is currently working to build their dance program, according to Director of Athletics Becky Silberman. Last year they added a middle school dance elective, and now they have created the after-school clinics.

“One of our goals this year was to grow our dance program, and we had a request from a few of the girls who participate in the dance team [to expand the program],” Silberman said.

In addition to teaching the dance clinics, Barber is also choreographing the high school musical, a job previously done by students and former history and Jewish history teacher Elizabeth Savopoulos, and Barber coach the dance team.

Sophomore Naomi Stillman has been dancing for six years and joined the dance team last year. Stillman is experienced in jazz, ballet, hip-hop, tap and modern dance.

“I think that it is very important [for JDS to expand its dance program],” Stillman said. “It has been really overlooked and not given much attention.”

This story was featured in Volume 37, Issue 2 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on Oct. 4, 2019.