An advertisement for "Livin' Luvin' Dancin,'" the dance performance at Soldotna High School this weekend, could sound like an infomercial with all the added bonuses included in it.
For the admission price of $5, audience members will get to see the SoHi Star Sensations dance team perform their repertoire of dances, complete with original and popular music, stunning costumes and diverse choreography. But wait, there's more.
Dancers from the Kenai High School dance team, North Star Dance Studio, The Dance Emporium and Vergine's Dance Studio also will perform. That's five performances -- with all the costumes, music, props, creativity, flexibility and dance styles included -- for the price of one.
"As far as the show, it's really well-rounded," said Star Sensations dance coach Holly Boyle. "There's street funk, ballet, clogging, lyrical -- 24 numbers in all. ... It's inspirational. I watched a dance yesterday that actually brought tears to my eyes. And there's pieces that are funny that you can laugh at. It's entertainment in a bunch of forms of really powerful pieces."
The Star Sensations team will perform 10 dances in various styles, including lyrical, jazz and hip hop. The choreography for some of the dances comes from a dance camp the team attended during the summer in Hawaii. Others were choreographed by Boyle, with input from team members.
"(Boyle) makes the final decision, but she's good about letting other people help," said sophomore Makena Roesch, one of the team's captains.
Star Sensations dance team captain Courtney McIntosh, left, and Bets Pindras rehearse the fan dance.
Photo by Jenny Neyman
A team favorite to perform is their 'Save The Last Dance' number, which comes from a 2001 Paramount Pictures film of the same name. The choreography is taken from a dance the main character in the movie does, with extra choreography added for additional dancers.
"I like "Save The Last Dance,'" said sophomore Bets Pindras. "We get a chair in that one."
Another favorite is a dance called "Matrix."
"It's hard and technical, but it's fun to do it," said sophomore Natasha Seguin.
The team has been working on some of these dances since the beginning of the year and have performed them at various school sports events and the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. Others have been added to their repertoire more recently, which takes added concentration to get those dances polished and ready to perform.
"For the past two weeks we've spent nearly all the time thinking about dance," Roesch said. "It's stressful, but it's fun because everything comes together and you get so pumped."
Sarah Kirkland, right, and Bets Pindras rehearse the dance team's 'Save The Last Dance' piece.
Photo by Jenny Neyman
The dance team is a year-long activity that requires continued dedication on the part of the coach and team members.
"Every other sport gets a break, and they don't," Boyle said. "We have a show and get right back into it."
Even though it can be a work- and time-intensive involvement when performance dates come along, the activity is praised by participants and parents.
"I think it's great they have dance," said Sharon Roesch of Soldotna, Makena Roesch's mother. "There's not that many schools where they get the opportunity. Kids love music and people love to dance -- it's a great way for the girls that are not really jocks to get physical exercise and improve their grace and agility. It's just wonderful."
The dance performance is a yearly event hosted by the SoHi Star Sensations. In years past, dance teams from other schools in the area were invited to perform, Boyle said. But funding cuts left most high schools without a dance team. Nikiski Middle-Senior High School still has a team, but it does its own dance performance, and Kenai just recently put a team back together.
"And so we invited the other (private dance) studios to keep dance alive," Boyle said. "We do have all of the community studios performing."
Molly Eastham, left, and Makena Roesch rehearse a duet dance.
Photo by Jenny Neyman
The Star Sensations are worried about the future of their team with school district budget cuts on the horizon. The team does fund-raisers throughout the year to help cover the costs of costumes, which can run hundreds of dollars apiece, and travel expenses.
"These girls worked all summer, selling concessions at the Little League snack shack, doing car washes, going door-to-door selling stuff -- they really do a lot to make sure this happens each year," Boyle said.
Sharon Roesch hopes the program will continue to be supported, she said. If funding is cut, she would be willing to help out as an advisor or chaperone, as would other parents, to help keep the program alive.
Whether the dance team members go on to become professional dancers or if they finish high school and never dance again, supporters say the program is still a valuable activity.
"It's not as expensive as if they had to pay for (dance) classes in a studio," Boyle said. "It builds self-esteem, they're part of a team, they get exercise -- they get a lot of things. ... It's wonderful to see these young kids involved in something that's healthy."
Performances of "Livin' Luvin' Dancin'" will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Soldotna High School Auditorium. The show is about two hours with an intermission.
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