By Isabella Longo and Jake Mawhinney
DEC 12, 2018
At this time each year, the curtain rises at the Bienes Center and the Saint Thomas Aquinas (STA) Raiders, who are part of the dance program, take the audience on a blissful trip through the Christmas season. The classes who took part in the show were Dance Techniques I, Dance Techniques II, Dance Techniques III, Choreography and Performance I, Choreography and Performance II, Choreography and Performance III. Ms. Virginio, the head of STA’s dance department, led the Christmas Showcase to success. She choreographed the dances for the Dance Technique classes and guided the Dance Choreography and Performance classes while they choreographed their own original routines.
This year, the Christmas Showcase differed from ones in the past because it featured only the dancers. In previous years the dancers shared the stage with the STA choir. Because the dancers had the stage to themselves this year, they were able to perform longer and more intricate routines. The dancers were the only performers in the show, the lighting was tailored specifically to the themes of each dance. According to Ms. Virginio, the Tech Club, headed by Mr. Snell, helped to produce a creative new lighting scheme that enhanced the Christmas spirit that the dancers portrayed.
The preparation for this show began in October. Ms. Virginio elaborated on how each portion of the show came to be. The songs were the first elements chosen, then the dancers for each group were chosen, next costume and, finally, hairstyles and makeup were selected. Each class was assigned deadlines to finish their projects and polish their dances. Before the opening night, the dance groups practiced on the stage.
The show came together wonderfully. Each dance flowed with grace and every aspect of the lighting and music melded beautifully. With each number another aspect of Christmas was brought to life on the stage.
Ms. Virginio explained that the classes at STA are for high school credits and count towards a student’s grade point average (GPA). The classes are mixed with students from all different levels of dance experience. Ms. Virginio stated, “I really have to know how to [tailor] each individual lesson for the seventy individual students I have this year.” This effort allows each student to grow and meet their full artistic potential.
The dance program at STA encourages students to grow closer to one another while learning the dedication and discipline that it takes to achieve excellence in the field of dance. Ms. Virginio told the Raider Review how grateful she is for her students and for the opportunity to grow the dance program while doing what she loves. Choreography and Performance I freshman Sophia Jovovich stated “Dance [at STA] makes me feel a certain kind of happiness.” This happiness was shared with the audience during each of the scheduled performances.