SPHS Dance Team tackles gender equality in its winter performance “Phenomenal Woman”

Story by Ben Clark
Staff Writer

Photos by Luke Quezada
Staff Photographer

Students and South Pasadena families filtered into the auditorium on Thursday, December 7th to enjoy a winter dance concert performed by the SPHS Dance Team. It was a brisk night outside but the auditorium retained a warm and jovial atmosphere as its guests conversed happily, waiting for the show to start.

The SPHS Dance concerts have been fantastically performed for years, and this show is no exception. Titled “Phenomenal Woman”, the performance was created and directed by the SPHS Dance instructor Courtney Cheyne. The dances addresses the ideals of feminism and social equality, and portrays women as powerful individuals who are not afraid to fight for change.

The theme of this year’s winter dance concert was gender equality and powerful women.

Before any of the dancers arrived on stage, the audience was shown a collection of footage of notable women from history and pop culture from Michelle Obama to Meryll Streep. As the screen was lifted, the dancers strode onto the stage to a steady beat. Alternating between soft ballet-like numbers and energetic pop songs, an image of simultaneous grace and strength was created by the flow from one piece of music to the next. The stage was decorated simply, using only lights and chairs that became props symbolising the rise of women from their stereotypical social roles. Beyond the chairs, the concert was filled with symbolic elements in both choreography and costume design. In one particularly symbolic number, “Glass Ceiling,” the performers donned suit jackets and rose up to reach for and eventually surpass an invisible ceiling.

The setting and costumes of the performance were not flashy but simple, the dancers used only chairs and choreography to display their message.

Senior Susan Rodriguez has been a member of the SPHS Dance Team for most of her high school career and had the opportunity to perform a solo number this year. She expressed how incredibly proud of her fellow dancers she was and her excitement to be part of such a meaningful performance.

“I definitely say that at this age you don’t have many dancers expressing themselves and trying to put forth a message,” Rodriguez said. “We’re really making changes.”

The concert closed similar to how it opened, with an inspiring video of powerful some meant to stick with the audience after the performance ended.

The concert was brought to a close by a heartfelt video that featured the dance team describing the women who have made positive impacts on their lives. This series of clips drew from the idea behind the video at the beginning of the show but established a more personal connection with the people who were being celebrated. Thus, “Phenomenal Woman” ended on an inspiring and optimistic note. The show was just as much a celebration of women as it was a cry for social change, creating the image of a world that should and certainly will exist. A world where people share the same rights and respect regardless of gender. The SPHS Dance Team rose to the challenge of addressing a prominent social issue in arguably their most artistically complex show and ultimately succeeded in conveying their message of equality.

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