MAMARONECK, N.Y. - Mamaroneck High School seniors Sonya Levine and Anthony Dean will feature their choreography in the "High On Dance: The Next Generation" series at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The event is one of the only juried modern dance showcases for high school students in the country.
Levine and Dean were selected as two of only about 15 student choreographers whose pieces will be in the show.
“It’s definitely very competitive," said Allison Parsley, who teaches dance at Mamaroneck High School's Performing Arts Curriculum Education program. "You’ve got all these city schools - performing arts schools - where the students are doing this work constantly from freshman year, and they’re submitting their pieces. So out of a small number chosen, to have two from here is really phenomenal.”
Neither student was expecting to hear the good news that their dances would be featured at the Y program.
“I was somewhat surprised, because they sent back the email about two months after they said they would," Dean said. "When I heard back, I was like ‘Wow, fantastic, I need to start getting my dancers to practice again!’ I loved the experience of getting ready for the first show, and I’m so glad I get to do that again.”
The work they both submitted was from "Kinesthesia," a November 2012 performance that PACE puts on each year. Levine plans to alter a section of hers slightly, but said they mostly need to re-rehearse after months of not performing the dances.
Dean's piece, called "So What?" is danced to the Talking Heads song, "Born Under Punches."
Levine's work, "Kumtia Siku" is inspired by African dance and uses "Shosholoza," a folk song performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir. "My dance is about seizing the day, taking hold of yourself and deciding what you’re going to do - it's just really happy,” Levine said.
What's particularly impressive is that the primary part of the two students' application for "High On Dance" was a video from "Kinesthesia," for which the dancers only had about two and a half weeks to prepare because of interruptions after Hurricane Sandy hit the area.
Parsley said the event at the 92nd Street Y will take place in a large studio converted into a black-box theater. She emphasized the honor of having one's choreographed work featured there: "Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor – so many great people have used this space and even gotten started in it."
Levine and Dean will both attend Wesleyan University after high school - a coincidence - and both plan to pursue the performing arts there, as well.
“I’m very proud; they definitely deserve this," Parsley said. "The pieces were well thought-out. Both of them took incredible creative risks.”
Other Mamaroneck High School students in the past have had their choreography performed at the Y. Last year, Natalia Shevin was chosen, and the year before that, Allison Podolsky and Danielle Rome.
The "High On Dance: The Next Generation" show takes place on Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m