Leaping into the First Dance Company


Annie Qiao

Freshmen Alina Medvedeva (left) and Nena Oshita (right) complete twin leg holds in the dance practice room.

Annie Qiao, Co-Editor-in-Chief

From an arabesque to a grand jeté, a dancer leaps across the marley floor with accuracy and grace. As one of the newest additions to the dance program, the inaugural dance company features students specializing in dance genres ranging from contemporary to hip-hop. The dance department held auditions from Oct. 23-25 and accepted 13 members.

“I feel like there’s just endless possibilities [for the program],” dance instructor Samantha Gardner said. “The opportunity to build a legacy and create a program that is going to exist for hopefully many, many years is exciting, and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

However, Gardner has also faced challenges along the way. Without any previous experience, many dancers did not understand the aspects that were part of a dance company, such as its purpose and the rules regarding a company.

“[Dance] is a choice, so it’s either you’re dedicated or you’re not,” freshman Eric Hao said. “Dance is a commitment, and a team is even more commitment, and I’m proud to be in it.”

The audition process was a new experience for many dancers, as it required students to perform two combinations of different styles of dance and to collaborate with their peers in front of a panel of four judges.

“The auditions were at first somewhat scary because the judges looked very strict,” freshman Annie Li said. “But when you actually started dancing, it became a lot more relaxed because they smiled back at you, and everyone was cheering each other on.”

During their practices, which occur twice a week, the company will begin choreographing and learning dances as well as planning fundraisers and other events that will contribute to the team. In the future, the dancers will also perform at pep rallies, competitions and other school events, highlighting the primary difference between the company and regular dance classes.

“I see them as a dance company, because they do more than just perform,” Gardner said. “I envision them reaching out to the community, being a bigger part of the school culture, helping to build school spirit, learning who they are as artists and creating dances. They have a larger part to play in the Portola culture and in the Irvine community.”