Dance Company excel despite uncertain circumstances

Diamond Bar High School Dance Company waltzed their way to victory on May 8 at the CADTD State Championships, securing their place as the 2021 State Champions in the Medium Contemporary division. 

Starting March 30, Dance Company began preparing for the competition in the upper quad once or twice a week, for a total of merely four practice sessions. Furthermore, the rehearsals were only 90 minutes in length. However, despite their limited practice time, they made full use of every moment together to prepare for the competition.

“The students and coaches utilized every minute of rehearsal to their advantage, which resulted in their championship performance,” Kari Simonson said via email. “I’m extremely proud of what they were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.”

Though Dance Company placed in State Champions, that doesn’t mean that its success was easy. Dance captain sophomore Talyah Ejah said that the scheduling and timing of rehearsals was difficult to coordinate.

“There are rules on the campus about time and that we can’t stay longer for a certain amount of hours,” Ejah said via Instagram. “It was hard to fit everything within that time zone.”

Still, Ejah said that an advantage of the filming process is that they were able to record the routine as many times as necessary to perfect every movement before submitting it to the competition. However, Dance Company could only utilize this to a limited extent, as they have to take breaks between performances and cannot simply redo the routine multiple times consecutively, not to mention that they had a limited number of meetings to work with.

The piece was choreographed and coached by dance professor Francesca Lee and DBHS alumnus Jason Lin. According to Simonson, its overall goal was to challenge the status quo by taking creative liberty and artistic risks.

In preparation for the competition and in order to get the best possible take, Ejah and her co-captain, junior Timito Sanedrin, scheduled a meeting prior to the actual recording to get ready for filming.

“During filming we had to do it three times full out because of minor mistakes. By the first we were all tired and out of breath but we managed to go through the set three full times,” Ejah said via Instagram.

Ejah said that she didn’t expect DBHS to win state championships because of how rushed the rehearsals were. Under normal circumstances, competition sets are practiced for months, while this time they only had four weeks. Additionally, she said that the team wasn’t sure what to expect from the judges given the nature of their piece.

“We didn’t know what to expect out of the competition and the judges because our competition piece is very different and unique. It’s either the judges like it or they won’t,” she said

DBHS hosts several competitions each season, however they were cut short last year due to the onset of the pandemic. Ejah said that Dance Company aims to compete at least once more this year, and with their victory, they’re optimistic about the notion.

“Competitions are what the Dance [Company] prepares for and we are hoping we can get more opportunities to compete now that everything’s opening up,” Ejah said.