CGPS Dancers Explore SPACE to Astounding Results in Concert

Under the guidance of dance teacher Rebecca Mehan and professional guest choreographers, the Prep School’s talented dance students wowed audience members as they explored the concept of space in their recent concert. Ms. Mehan spoke with the Weekly about how everyone came together to put on such a captivating and expressive show:

What is the significance behind the concert's name, SPACE?

Every year the dance students help me decide on a theme for the annual concert. We aim to choose a theme that we can handle in multiple ways. Every choreographer must use the theme as a point of departure for their work, and we encourage a wide range of interpretations. Our intention in doing this is to create a diverse show that reflects a specific concept.  

At the beginning of the year, the students and I made a list of classroom agreements that we would all follow. One of those agreements says, “Take space, make space,” which became a significant phrase to us. Sarah M. ’19, president of the Dance Club, suggested that we use the idea of space as our theme for the dance concert. Everyone agreed.  

How does the concert act as a year-end culmination of dance at CGPS?

The dance concert is a year-end culmination of dance at CGPS in that we've been working together consistently since September. Even though we did not showcase some of the choreography from earlier in the year at the concert, it strengthened and informed the choreography that was.

What forms of dance did the concert consist of? How did the show blend them together?

I welcome all styles, traditions and genres of dance. We had everything from ballet to hip-hop to step! My background in dance includes many forms. Modern dance, my favorite form and one that I teach in the Prep School, encourages freedom of movement and expression over any specific aesthetic. I think the fundamental principles of modern dance are present in our students, which allows them to embody many ideas without the concern of looking a certain way. It also provides plenty of space for exploration and diversity. In the dance concert, each piece had a different quality to it. This is something to celebrate! Hopefully, the common theme of space gave the concert a cohesive feeling.  

What was the preparation process like, especially as the students began working with the professional guest choreographers?

Most of the rehearsals happened within school hours. Our dance lab was rarely empty this semester! A student can get involved by signing up for Dance Club, Step Club, Modern Dance I or II and Choreography. The professional choreographers gave the students exposure to new ways of moving and developing dance. The students’ work with the professionals informed their own processes in wonderful ways. Our guest choreographers deeply enriched their understanding of what dance can be.  

How have you seen your dancers evolve and progress as artists throughout the year?

They have grown in so many ways. Some of my trained dancers are figuring out that dance does not have to be a competitive form. This is opening them up to new ideas of what dance can be. All of the dancers are encouraged to play, explore, make mistakes and generate material in a way that does not question the value of them or their work. With this approach, our students are beginning to understand that dance can be so much more than a form of entertainment. As the dancers have started to embody these ideas more and more, they have become more comfortable and open to new ways of expressing themselves.  

Also, we've had so much fun in the dance lab this year. The joy of dance is real! I think many of our students are understanding how dance can help sustain themselves and each other, especially during challenging times. With all of their studies, social pressures and other commitments, they are discovering how refreshing and fun it is to move, embody an idea, lift each other up and just have fun dancing.  

Do you have any words for your students following the concert? 

Your work showcased different experiences and points of view that our community supported with enthusiasm. You took up space with confidence and joy, and there is not much that could make me happier. I'm already looking forward to next year!