From the Bay Area to Spain: Dance Spectrum presents “Destination Dance” showcase


Myesha Phukan, Staff Writer

Swirling skirts, hip-hop choreography, and more took center stage at Dance Spectrum’s “Destination Dance” Showcase. Held in person for the first time in three years at Foothill College’s Smithwick Theater on May 5 and 6, the annual event took audience members to different countries, immersing them in new languages and cultures from around the globe. This year, ticket sales skyrocketed, selling out for Friday’s show.

“We haven’t been able to have a show since my freshman year,” senior and choreographer Marika Ragnartz said. “I’m so grateful that we finally got to have a show.” 

Dance Spectrum’s Spring Showcase has been canceled a number of times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The Dance Spectrum show happens every May,” Lauren Kato, Dance Spectrum’s director said. “The theme of the show changes every year.” 

The program rotates between four main themes so that students who have been in the program for four years are able to perform different dances each year. 

The goal of the event was to showcase what all the members of Dance Spectrum had learned throughout the year. 

“We have students with all different backgrounds and abilities,” Kato said. “ [For some] this is their very first performance. It’s incredible to see how far they’ve come.”

Kato and the leadership board of Dance Spectrum met the year before to start planning.

“We [started] to discuss options for choreographers for the next school year,” Kato said. “First semester, students work on specific routines, and when they come back the second semester, they learn all new routines, but cannot forget the ones that they learned the semester before.” 

“Every dancer [was] in at least four dances,” senior Michelle Kelman, the secretary of Dance Spectrum, said. Most practices took place during class, however, there were other audition-based pieces that rehearsed after school and at lunch. 

According to Kelman, there were roughly 30 dances and six emcee skits. While dancers learned most routines throughout the school year, pieces such as “production” were learned three hours before tech rehearsals. 

Kato believed the most challenging part of the event was due to the program’s growth. Rehearsal schedules for the showcase have not changed since there were only three classes.

“Now we have five [class periods],” Kato said. “We [tried] to cram in so much in so little time, and it [got] really chaotic.”

Some of the destinations showcased included New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Latin America, Jamaica, and Greece. Guest performers from the Spartan Dance Club and Folklorico Club also took to the stage. 

This year, students were “very aware of cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation,” Kato said. There were not as many cultural dances as there had been in years before. Instead, students took inspiration from cultural music and places that they felt more comfortable representing. 

Kelman and Ragnartz choreographed the Senior Dance, which was inspired by Mamma Mia.

“The glow, the energy, and the smiles that fill the stage during this dance are unforgettable,” Kelman said. “It is so touching to be a part of, and everyone truly loves being there and dancing together.” 

After the bows on Friday night, an award ceremony took place where certain dancers were commemorated. 

Students voted on awards for their classmates and the overall program. For each class, there was a most improved dancer, most outstanding performer, most dedicated dancer, and most outstanding choreographer.

Awards were given for those same categories, but for all of Dance Spectrum. The Tyler Collins Memorial Scholarship Award, a $500 award given to one student, to go towards furthering their education, was given to senior Salesi Fehoko. Recipients of the award must embody exceptional talent in one or more genres of dance, humility, encouraging others to grow, self-motivation, and inspiring others to dance, among other qualities. 

“[Fehoko] just loves to dance and loves to share that joy with the world, which makes me think of Tyler very very often,” Kato read in a speech Friday night, honoring both the late Collins and Fehoko. 

There was an overwhelming sense of community and passion during the event, emanating from both the dancers and the audience. 

“It is such a privilege being able to teach these students coming from such a wide variety of backgrounds, languages, abilities, and disabilities,” Kato said. “Watching them progress and learn how to value each other and themselves is the most rewarding thing on the planet. I am so happy to have this job and be their teacher.”