The students in Hillcrest High's Dance Company love to dance. And not just dance, but move in a way that will inspire their audience, uplift somebody’s day — and improve the community.
That’s why, when Salt Lake City’s Repertory Dance Theatre Company decided to include the group’s 27 teenagers in a free dance concert at Hillcrest on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 at 7:30 p.m., they looked to the students to shape their own choreography. After about six hours of working together one Saturday afternoon, the result is a dance that tells the story of heritage and journey. And students say the opportunity has changed their lives.
“This is more than just another dance, it’s a life experience for us,” said Rachel Heard, a senior dancer and president of the Hillcrest Dance Company. “We are super excited about it and we’re very thankful that we get to have (the RDT performance) here.”
RDT, a successful modern dance company, regularly works with the community, offering lectures, movement classes and free matinee performances. But this is the first time the renowned group will be performing at Hillcrest and including Hillcrest’s Dance Company. The concert is free and open to the public through a grant from the Midvale Arts Council.
“Working with the Hillcrest dancers was a wonderful experience,” said Nicholas Cendese, an artistic associate with RDT who directed the students and helped shaped the direction of their movements. “One of the outstanding things the audience will see is the high caliber and physicality of the Hillcrest dancers. They are amazing movers and we worked hard to give them lush movement that showcases their talents.”
For Nick Fife, a 16-year-old junior who’s been dancing since the eighth grade, the experience has been eye-opening.
“This is so cool that we get the opportunity to work with dancers who are successful in their field — known dancers — because it gives us something to aspire to,” Fife says. “It’s a whole new standard, being able to learn a dance we know will be in a professional concert — it adds a whole new level.”
The opportunity to work with RDT is especially meaningful to Chelsea Lujan, Hillcrest Dance Company’s teacher and adviser. Lujan started teaching dance at Hillcrest four years ago, following in the footsteps of her mother, who taught dance at the school for 21 years.
“Secretly, it’s every dancer’s dream to dance in a professional setting, and my 27 dancers get that chance,” Lujan said. “I just love every time my dancers can have new experiences.”