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Milken’s Dance Company Takes Center Stage

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Jenny Graham
Milken’s Dance Company dancing to “Adir Adirim”

As Milken Dance Company’s performance came to an end on April 18, the entire group took the stage for a final time. The lights were dim when a fast and eccentric beat started playing. The light brightened, and the group began dancing. Their accentuated movements and gestures were visualizing the themes of feminism and standing up to ignorance. Esteemed guest choreographer Barak Marshall choreographed a dance to the Israeli song “Adir Adirim.”

Milken’s Dance Company is an afterschool program for middle and high school students. Led by Ms. Tina Berkett, the group meets twice a week, and has dance performances twice a year. While guest choreographers come to teach the group specialized dances, students also have the opportunity to completely choreograph their own dances. This year’s concert, called “United We Dance,” was incredible, due to the dancers’ ingenuity and courage, and was a testament to the hard work they put into the dances.

Here is a selection of the dances performed in April:

“evermore” – Emma Soha and Aviva Franklin

Reel Memories Video Productions

Emma Soha ‘25, and Aviva Franklin ‘24 danced to Taylor Swift’s title track on her album, evermore. Throughout the dance, it was apparent the emotion and feeling that Emma and Aviva put into every moment. They have been dancing together for seven years and ultimately had a great experience choreographing this emotional piece together. “I feel that we were able to mesh our visions together,” says Emma, “We would sort of just try something, see what our body felt inclined to do next, and continue on from there.” They both wanted to choose a Taylor Swift song because they really love her music and wanted to transform ‘evermore’ into a new form and expression. Throughout the dance, the duo continued to lean and support each other throughout the movements, and “grasped [each other] for moments of stillness.”

“Heather” – Yasmin Varol

Yasmin Varol dancing to “Heather” by Conan Gray (Jenny Graham)

This deeply emotional Conan Gray ballad was danced by seventh grader Yasmin Varol. As “I still remember the third of December, me in your sweater” was sung, Varol pulled out a white sweater. She gracefully used the sweater as an extension of her body while she danced.  Because Varol isn’t an experienced dancer, it was really challenging to choreograph her own dance and sometimes she “wanted to give up.” Yet she persisted, as her main goal was to let people “feel the emotion [of the song] through her dance.”

“What’s Up Danger” – Lila Shimansky

Lila Shimansky dancing to “What’s Up Danger” (Jenny Graham)

Lila Shimansky ‘26 danced to the Spider-Man: Into The Spider Verse soundtrack song, “What’s Up Danger.” Her dance stood out that night because it was a hip-hop dance, rather than other dancers’ slower dances. “It’s good to have variety in a show,” said Shimansky. Because she is a beginner to choreographing, she chose a genre that she is comfortable and familiar with, which is hip hop. It was a little difficult for her to choreograph her dance, so she drew inspiration from other dances or videos that she watched online to guide her. She liked matching up her movements to the music, for example, slowing down as the music slows down. “I liked the different textures [of the dance], the high energy to the slower parts, and being able to take up the entire stage,” which is a lot different from group dances. Even though she wasn’t always confident in the dance, Shimansky continued to “have faith, and it turned out really well!”

“Work Song” – Noa Sweet, Dalia Sweet, Chloe Araghi, Pelle Fleischman 

Reel Memories Video Productions

This quartet danced to Hozier’s “Work Song,” which began with the familiar introduction of the song. Noa and Dalia entered from one side, and Chloe and Pelle entered from the other. At the beginning, the music has a short pause every few seconds where the dancers make a striking change in their movement. “We picked ‘Work Song’ because as soon as we played it, we felt our bodies start to move and envisioned ourselves on stage,” said Noa. She continued, “it was interesting to see how such a small group can work together to make such a cool piece.”

Each dance has a different message and theme. As each dancer had their own solos and danced in small groups, you could see the intention and meaning that they put into their dances. Yet as the entire group came together for group dances like “Adir Adirim,” it could be understood how the entire group worked together coherently and as one unified group, which created an uplifting environment as the dancers performed.

This story appeared in the Milken Roar on May 21, 2024.

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