For around 3 ½ months, middle schoolers have participated in the Middle School Dance Collective. The Middle School Dance Collective is part of the AHA (After School Arts) program and the dancers meet on Thursdays after school. In past years, they have all been live performances, however, due to Covid restrictions, rehearsals have been held over Zoom. The main goal for this after-school class is for students to learn about types of dance techniques from guests instead of preparing for a concert.
Middle schoolers are encouraged to attend the Zoom meeting even if they hadn’t participated in past rehearsals. Performing Arts Instructor, Holly Rothschild, leads the students through workshops and tries to challenge them with new choreography every few classes. While dancing via Zoom has been difficult, Rothschild tries to look at the positive side of the situation.
“I think the benefits of doing this together, whether it’s inside or outside, is that we can just move a lot more,” Rothschild said. She also wants the Dance Collective to provide an opportunity for students to work on their dancing and choreography skills.
Rothschild doesn’t teach a set amount of students because middle schoolers can join whenever their schedule allows them to. Students are able to form more of a balance within their schedules, allowing them to participate in other extracurriculars such as choir practice, play rehearsal, or the All-School Dance Concert.
In previous years, students would work after school with Rothschild in order to perform in front of the school. However, this is not the case for this school year. “This year, the Dance Collective is starting later because the Dance Concert is still in the rehearsal process” Rothschild said.
The Middle School Dance Collective heavily focuses on skill and community building and provides a space for students with similar interests to get to know each other. Rothschild’s goal for next year is to start rehearsing earlier so that they can have a performance, since there wasn’t one this year. She said this way, students will be able to connect with each other, and they will also be able to set their own goals.
“It’s very helpful to stay active, and the stretches really help after being on Zoom all day. It’s nice to get up and move around,” Emma Melville ‘25, a student in choir and improv, said. She also appreciates that there is such little pressure on them since coming to class is optional. She said that she was hesitant about participating since it would add to the amount of time she spends on zoom, but being able to move around and dance made the experience worth it.
Rothschild is extremely passionate about dance, and wants to share that joy. She loves the challenges dance offers and how dancers come together to create a beautiful and seemingly effortless piece.
“I’ve always felt that [dance is] extremely challenging. I feel like there’s this very ephemeral side of it that to me feels so in the moment, and so fleeting, and so beautiful” Rothschild said. She said dancers have to be present at every moment, but it pays off.
Rothschild’s goal for herself is to share the excitement and knowledge she possesses with her students. “Even if you decide you’re not going to be a professional dancer, you can still explore and discover that world, and it’s available to you” reminds Rothschild.