Dancers aim to present ‘Grimm’ interpretation of fairytales in annual show


Photo credit: Celeste Ramirez

Executive Board Member Kelsey Thompson ’20 rehearses for this year’s Night of Dance, “Mirage,” which explored twisted fairytales and reimagines characters like Hansel and Gretel, Peter Pan and Snow White.

In past years, Archer’s Night of Dance has transported audiences to other planets, different decades and even dystopian futures. The 2020 show, titled “Mirage,” asks viewers to revisit a world they are likely familiar with: children’s stories.

“What we want to do is investigate the impact of morals and the ideas ingrained in popular childhood stories, and how they impact women in particular,” head dance captain and senior Kelsey Thompson said. “Right now, we’re looking at about 22 different dances, with different fairytales for each one.”

The Dance Leadership board decided to include many classic fairytales in the upcoming Night of Dance, incorporating characters like Maleficent, Peter Pan and Thumbelina. However, according to 11th grade co-captain Lexie Ben-Meir, the Executive Board wanted to make a statement by “twisting” the traditional narratives of these stories.

I think there’s so many directions you can go with this. It opens up a world of possibilities. We don’t want it to be a recreation of each fairytale — we want there to be a takeaway.

— Lexie-Ben Meir

“[We] don’t want it to be a Disney show,” Ben-Meir said. “We’re doing a different take on it. And hopefully, it will be interesting for the audience to see a different perspective. That’s why we’re calling it twisted; what if instead of this ending, it ended in a different way, and what can we learn from that?”

The title, “Mirage,” parallels this message with its “mysterious” definition, according to Ben-Meir.

“‘Mirage’ [means] something that appears to be so, but it isn’t,” Thompson said. “With fairytales, sometimes they can come across as the truth, but in actuality, they don’t really exist. They’re just constructs that really don’t hold much value at all once you look closer into them.”

Although the Executive Board chose the theme, Dance Director Andrea Locke said the final product is ultimately achieved through “collaboration.”

“I trust the process of connecting different thoughts and ideas,” Locke said. “I knew there was something we wanted to do with perspectives and movement. It just evolved from there. [When] I bring in guest choreographers, I always allow room for their creativity. So we come up with the theme, and then [follow] their vision of how they want to retell or how they want to reimagine that particular fairytale.”

The magnitude of this year’s dance troupe and company allows for many contributors to the artistic vision of the show. With 126 students signed up for dance, “Mirage” will likely be the biggest Night of Dance to date, according to Locke.

“[Coordinating dances and schedules] is always really difficult to organize,” Ben-Meir said. “But [the executive board] is doing an amazing job. And I think it’s going to be fun; it’s going to be kind of wild.”

Always, it’s about a better year than it was before. That’s the goal, always. That involves as many girls as want to perform the dance, and that it’s meaningful, and it has a purpose, that it’s bigger than just how to do a plie.

— Andrea Locke

Despite the challenges of organizing the Night of Dance, dancers seemed to agree that it is worth the “community” and “friendship” that it forges.

“I know that I’ve made so many friends from other grade levels in dance,” Ben Meir said. “I hope I can do the same for the younger Archer girls.”

According to Locke, the strong sense of community is not a surprise given the nature of this year’s executive board.

“[They] are a bunch of kind, caring young women,” Locke said. “The other groups had other things too, but there’s something really special about the atmosphere.”

However, Locke didn’t identify the executive board’s “kindness” as its only unique feature.

“This exec board found dance, most of them,” Locke said. “Kelsey [Thompson] and Julia [Wanger (’20)] had danced before, but, in a sense, [all of them] found a voice for themselves in dance, through Archer. Angelica [Gonzalez (’20)], Kennede [Tucker (’20)], Celeste [Ramirez (’20)] — I remember when they first started dancing. And now there’s this confidence that they have in being able to dance and express themselves.”

Given the executive board is composed solely of seniors, there is an air of “sadness” around their final night of dance, but also one of “excitement.”

“I’m excited to experience [Night of Dance] as a senior,” Thompson said. “I’ve done it so many times that in those middle years, it kind of just became routine. But this time I’m going to be approaching it [thinking] ‘Wow, this is my last one.’ So I think it’s going to make everything that much more special.”