Once Upon an Orchesis
Combining jazz, lyrical, tap, hip-hop, and contemporary dance into a storybook-inspired theme, “Once Upon an Orchesis” will showcase the best of Maine West’s dancers on March 9 at 4 p.m. and March 10-11 at 7 p.m.
“In the show, you’ll laugh and cry, see good vs. evil, beloved fairy tales, evil queens, a hilarious secret boys dance, and a daddy-daughter dance with the girls and their dads,” Orchesis director Lisa Jacob said.
In order to capture the theme, many of the dances are based on well-known fairy tales. For this, dancers will be inhabiting different characters throughout the performance, which is a change from shows in the past. “This show is special because it’s more character-based. I think the really fun dances are the big cast numbers and the character features,” sophomore Monroe Torkelson said.
With about 60 dancers, ths production is different from others at West because of its large number of male cast members. “We have a full range of great dancers, and we put a little twist on the theme,” fourth-year senior Ali Tworek said. “People can look forward to great dances and the lifts. They can see all the songs that they know and like come to life on stage.”
The fairy tale theme allows the audience to cheer for their favorite characters and immerse themselves in the performance. “This show is really special because everybody knows someone in the show. There’s good depth and a variety of dancers put with comedic interludes, so it’s not a boring recital,” Jacob said. “The entertainment value outweighs the price of the ticket. The audience will be entertained from the moment the curtain rises, and they will leave wanting more.”
The students’ choreography has already earned top honors. On Feb. 18, girls from Orchesis took some of their best dances to Buffalo Grove High School to audition for the Illinois State Dance Festival. “Stomp in the Swamp,” a tap dance choreographed by senior Nataley Grimmer and junior Greta Sorensen, will advance to the state festival on May 13, which is being held at Maine West this year.
Grimmer and Sorensen are just two of the many students whose work will be featured during next week’s show. During auditions in October, “dancers submit pieces to be considered for the show, then Mrs. [Amy] Claus and I narrow it down for a good variety. They need to have a good concept and about a third of the piece choreographed for us to decide,” Jacob said. “The talent is amazing. The girls get to work with different dancers and choreographers, so it improves their skills as well as their pride.”
This opportunity allows members of Orchesis to step up and lead in order to see their pieces on stage. “It’s cool to see what you picture come to life. You see people bring something new to the dance you envisioned,” Torkelson said.
“I look forward to see how my dance turns out because it’s more fast-paced than last year so there’s a big change.”
After being in Orchesis for so long, fourth-year members help guide underclassmen and set an example. “We’ve showed them how to handle it all, even if we are a little messy. They see that we try our hardest and that they should, too,” Tworek said.
During this last week leading up to their performance, dancers are very careful with taking care of themselves despite the demanding rehearsal schedule. “We have to get a lot of sleep, eat healthy, do our homework and have a good attitude,” Tworek said.
Seeing how dancers improve and expand their repertoire of techniques is something that Jacob enjoys the most about directing. “I get to see them grow on stage, and it’s very rewarding,” Jacob said. “I love working with advanced dancers and watching their growth from the time they begin to when they graduate. I love watching the risks they take, the choreography they make, and working with the guys to get them out of their comfort zone. It all takes a lot of courage. Over the year, we all become a family.”
The show is filled with fairy tales, comedy, talent, and passion. It is one you won’t want to miss. “There’s 100% non-stop entertainment, audience participation, and something for everyone. Your spirits will be lifted and you’ll feel great when you leave,” Jacob said.