Movement, music and memories: Archer presents Festival of Dance 

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Photo credit: Anna Entin

Eighth grade dancers perform their student choreographed dance in the historic courtyard during lunch. Student choreographers had creative freedom as they choose their costumes, music and dancers.

By Rose Sarner, Culture Editor

From different cultures, costumes and forms of expression, Archer’s Festival of Dance is an annual celebration of the accomplishments of all the dancers in the community. Unlike Night of Dance, all of the dances performed at the Festival of Dance are entirely student choreographed. In the historic courtyard, the festival featured performances from students in Dance Company and Advanced Study Dance classes May, 13. Chairs were set up for faculty, staff and students to come together and watch during lunch.

The festival included a variety of dance styles, including contemporary, modern and hip hop. According to junior Penelope Bisley, the festival represented a celebration of movement and self-expression, and all choreography emphasized community. Bisley was a part of three different dances that all varied in style and required different emotions.

One [dance] was about accepting loss and the struggles you went through in order to acknowledge them, while the others were about a terrible tragedy and happiness. I think the second two contrast each other perfectly in order to really explore how transformation occurs.”

— Penelope Bisley ('23)

“The Festival of Dance is a way for me to connect with my peers that enjoy dance as much as I do, as well as being able to express my true passion and myself through dance,” Bisley said. “Especially connecting to the theme this year of transformation, especially after COVID, it was nice to get back to it and dance with my friends.”

This year’s theme builds upon the idea of transformation, which is the theme that was developed and explored in the Night of Dance. Both dance shows focused around “transformation” highlighted the difficult times everyone in the community has gone through these past few years and emphasized the light at the end of the tunnel. Further illustrating the theme of transformation, during one dance at the festival, the music cut out. However, dancers continued performing the rest of the dance without music in the background.

“I have been able to express all the hard times I went through during COVID in the festival,” Bisley said. “I was in three dances. One was about accepting loss and the struggles you went through in order to acknowledge them, while the others were about a terrible tragedy and happiness. I think the second two contrast each other perfectly in order to really explore how transformation occurs.”

Sophomores Sophia Landers and Sydney Azar are both members of Archer’s dance troupe and were given the opportunity to choreograph for the festival. Not only are Azar and Landers best friends, but they are collaborators and said that they empower one another.

“For our dance, we decided to choreograph a fast jazz dance called ‘Cover-Girl,'” Azar said. “We first started with an idea of having a quick pace dance, and then it kind of grew into a dance about confidence.”

The Festival of Dance emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community and supporting one another. Landers said she really enjoys the sense of community she is able to feel around her while performing.

“We also explored ideas surrounding women empowerment as the Festival of Dance has given us an opportunity to really showcase our talents and what we’ve been working on throughout the year,” Landers said. “The festival is a day for students to watch at one time in a community – I think that is what is so special.”