Dance Preview: CityStep 20th Anniversary Show
They have become an institution on campus, their dancing red shoes a perennial symbol of enthusiasm and good cheer. This year CityStep commemorates its 20th anniversary, and the timing couldn’t be better.
“This year our show is even more critical than ever,” says Aaron Tanaka ’04, one of six CityStep directors organizing the group’s 20th Anniversary gala show. The historic event, which celebrates the oldest established service group on campus, coincides with recent budget cuts that have threatened arts-related programs in the Cambridge Public School District. The event, involving 31 teachers, six directors, two executive producers, 15 producers and more than 100 students, shows that there is hearty enthusiasm and support for the arts in and around Cambridge.
The anniversary marks two decades of dance that have combined the creativity of the performing arts with the spirit of public service. The high-profile event will feature prefatory remarks by CityStep’s founder Sabrina Peck ‘83 and a reception to follow Cambridge Mayor Micheal A. Sullivan’s backstage tour.
The year-long CityStep program anually enriches the education of more than 100 Cambridge fifth and sixth-graders with dance, improv and choregraphy.
CitySteppers from Harvard visit fifth graders in their classrooms and provide an after-school program (located in Currier House) for sixth and, most recently, seventh graders. The curriculum emphasizes cooperation, self-expression and team building through games and improvisational exercises. “Boom-Boom-Chang” is a particular favorite of teacher Kristi L. Jobson ’06, who is also a Crimson editor. “This game is all about enthusiasm, trust and self-confidence,” she says.
Generating unity and spirit among CityStep’s Harvard participants is equally important.
Weekly breakfasts, biweekly company meetings, rousing campaigns in front of the Science Center and energetic “ohh-ahh-city-step” chants unite this talented group of people.
The students’ year-long creative efforts culminate in an annual show. This year’s theme, “Explore, Dream, Discover,” continues the CityStep tradition of producing shows that, according to director Katie F. O’Brien ’04, “focus on exploring new frontiers and pushing new boundaries.”
The program, which includes themes from the deep sea, inside the earth, technology, time, space and inside the body, is entirely student written, choreographed and composed. Original music, supervised by Ben Jackson ’03, and original costumes supervised by Emily S. Wu ’03, complement choreography entirely created by Harvard students.
Fraught with modern jazz, hip-hop and stomp influences, the show also includes choreography intended to more abstractly express each piece’s theme. “Time” uses the body and tempo to convey imagery of time; at one point the dancers are a clockface and another a pendulum.
“Explore, Dream, Discover” expresses what Laura E. Weidman ’04 describes as CityStep’s mission “to promote self-esteem and cooperation while challenging students to push their limits.”
The CityStep show will be held Friday, April 11th at 7:30 PM and Saturday, April 12th at 2:30 PM and 7:30 PM at Cambridge Ringe and Latin High School. Tickets will be available through Harvard Box Office at the Holyoke Center.