Palomar dance students have spent countless hours crafting and revising this year’s upcoming winter performance.
Within the dance department, students are given the opportunity to choreograph different styles of dance under the discretion of a dance professor. The students have been working on their dance routines since the beginning of the semester.
One such professor, Patricceann Mead, has been part of Palomar’s Performing Arts faculty since 1997. Since then, she has helped transform the dance department by adding curriculum, such as Latin Social Dance, and other various programs.
Mead also founded the Agogo Dance Company, an Afro Cuban-Brazilian Dance Ensemble, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary last October. It is one of two resident dance companies at Palomar. The Contemporary Dance Ensemble was founded by Mead’s colleague, Molly Faulkner.
When it comes to the winter dance, Mead has created a program that focuses more on the students.
“When I first came here, the winter dance was produced and choreographed by faculty members,” Mead said.
Now, it is produced and choreographed by the students. At the start of the school year, Mead holds auditions for the winter dance where students are given the opportunity to perform original pieces. While the dancers are given free reign to choreograph, Mead has the final say in which routines make it into production.
This year, Mead envisions that the winter dance will continue to “celebrate a variety of genres and share the developing skills of student choreographers.” Audience members can expect to see a wide range of dances, from hip-hop and ballet to jazz and tap.
Typically, the winter dance is comprised of 18 to 20 different performances that feature student-based choreography. There is a variety of expertise among the dancers in this production.
For Palomar alumni, Jamey Robinson, this is her fifth year in the winter dance. She has been dancing since high school and would like to pursue dance as a career, both as a performer and a teacher. Robinson is one of 15 student choreographers who will have their routines featured in the winter dance.
Currently, she is working on two pieces, hip-hop and contemporary. One of the most difficult aspects of being a choreographer and dancer is having the audience connect to the dance.
“Seeing it all come together and creating something beautiful” Robinson said, was the most rewarding part of the entire winter dance process.
Another Palomar student, Courtney Hienkel, is a junior who has been dancing for three years— since she first auditioned for the winter dance in 2014. While she is one of many students enrolled in choreography classes who would like to pursue a career in dance, students do not need to have prior experience in dance to participate.
“People just come into the program,” Hienkel said. Everyone learns at their own pace and gradually pick up different techniques. For the winter dance, Hienkel hopes that audiences will see how much dedication the dancers have put into the production.
To really get a feel for what the winter dance is about, Robinson says people will “just have to come see the show.” The winter dance officially opens to the public on December 15th and 16th. For more information go to www.palomarperforms.com