Juniors balance obligations and rehearsal in preparation for Quad Day

September 24, 2018 — by Ashley Feng and Kaylene Morrison
Photo by Alan Zu

Junior girls perform during their Quad Day on Sept. 20.

As a group of dancers clad in black clothing and blue bandanas crowded around a single table in the middle of the quad, junior George Bian ran down the steps in a lion costume, holding a gallon of water. Right as the beat dropped, he flipped the gallon and the crowd went wild.

This was one of the highlights of the junior class’s “Wizard of Oz”-themed Quad Day skit on Sept. 20. Compared to last year, participation in decorations and dances increased, with popular dances like the stunt dance and all-girls’ dances seeing more interest. One focus of the junior Quad Day this year was the stunt dance, choreographed by juniors Ashleigh Abe and Vivienne Nguyen.

While Abe and Nguyen were excited to put together the stunt dance, neither has a deep background in dance or experience with choreography. In fact, Abe, a skilled  gymnast, joined the dance team for the first time this year.

“It took a lot to think of what skills people have and whether or not it would end up looking too messy to put out there on Quad Day,” Abe said.

In contrast, junior Alena Jarrett had a fairly extensive acting background on her side as she led the juniors in writing their Quad Day skit. Jarrett has worked in a wide range of jobs in the entertainment industry starting from age 4, including modeling, screen acting and voice acting. She also has experience playing extras in movies such as “Sherlock Holmes” and “X-men.” Additionally, she has been writing the script for her class’s Quad Day performances since freshman year.

Jarrett began writing four days after the themes were announced, and after watching “The Wizard of Oz” and variations of it such as “The Great and Powerful Oz,” Jarrett transformed the notes and observations she had made into a rough skeleton of the skit, which was completed with suggestions from juniors Emma Hsu, Risa Carter and Livi Katz.

Jarrett thinks that she has improved as a script writer since last year and that the actors had a better performance as well.

“Our jokes and plot were more original and relevant, and our  transitions were a lot smoother,” Jarrett said.

In order to make next year’s skit more of a success, Jarrett took note of aspects of the performance that the juniors needed to work on.

“Our dances could be better incorporated into the storyline and we could use more stage space,” she said.

One problem that hurt both the quality of the skit and the stunt dance was the lack of practices. The academic pressures of junior year prevented many from attending the few rehearsals that were scheduled.

“Stunt is something where you want it to look good as a group,” said Abe, “and it’s hard to choreograph for a group if a few people aren’t able to show up to practices.”

With the tight deadlines of this year’s Homecoming week, the dancers didn’t begin practices until two weeks before the Quad Day performance. Abe and Nguyen choreographed the basics prior to practices, but they completed the dance with help from other dancers.

“Throughout every practice, everyone was able to work together, input ideas and change things,” Abe said.

Even with problems coordinating practices, the dancers were able to pull off some new tricks, incorporating an aerial line, smoke bombs and even a water bottle flip.

“I think the choreographers for the stunt dance really stepped it up this year, the tricks were cleaner and the formations seemed more organized,” junior class president Emma Hsu said. “The new tricks were nice because they show how we have changed now that we are upperclassmen.”

 

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