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Mamaroneck High's PACE Stages Dance Performance

PACE dancers in their final dress rehearsal on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Performances run through Saturday, Nov. 22, at Mamaroneck High School. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
One of the 85 Mamaroneck dancers rehearses for the performance. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- The 40th anniversary of "Kinesthesia," a dance show choreographed and performed by students, opens Wednesday, Nov. 19, at Mamaroneck High School.

The longest-running modern dance program of its kind in the United States will go one step further this year by closing with George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue,'' accompanied by the high school chamber orchestra.

The school's integrated performing arts program known as PACE – short for the Performing Arts Curriculum Experience – is an elective program offering students progressive years of study in theater, dance and music before they focus on one specialty in their senior year.

Performances for Wednesday and Friday, Nov. 21, were nearly sold out, but there are more shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, as well as at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

Since its inception, about 1,100 original dances have been produced and performed on the PACE stage. There have been only two teachers in the history of the dance program. Consistent philosophical core values remain the same today as they did four decades ago.

"I’m so proud to be a part of the PACE community and this vibrant, unique dance program,” said Allison Parsley, who took over for the original dance teacher who retired in 2011. Martie Barylick plans to return, along with PACE alumni, for a reception following the opening night show.

A highlight this year will be a joint performance by 18 MHS dancers with the chamber orchestra. “This is the first time the music and PACE departments have collaborated on something like this,” Parsley said. “The complexity of the piece and the precision required with all those involved will make this an extraordinary performance."

Students practiced together during 80-minute classes and Mondays at 7 a.m. The closing number spans about 16 minutes of the two-hour show. "It's something I wanted to do because of the 40th anniversary,'' Parsley said of the performance with students of Elyse Gellert, who will be the conductor.

Additionally, Parsley will stage a work from the "Labanotation" score choreographed in 1920 by Doris Humphrey and Ruth St. Denis -- two of the creators of modern dance.  Called "Soaring," it uses five dancers and a 20-by-20-foot piece of silk that bellows into the air. Erica Huang will accompany dancers on piano. “As far as I know, this is the first time that 'Soaring' has ever been performed by a high school,” Parsley said.

"Kinesthesia" will be performed in the PACE Theatre in the high school's Palmer building. Tickets ($8 adults; $5 students) are on sale through Friday at lunch and after school in the PACE lobby.

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