PEN Senior Dancers Set To Move On
• Peninsula High dance teams and programs will be going through changes after a large senior class graduates.
As the 2018-2019 school year comes to a close, the Peninsula dance program is beginning to say good-bye to the old and greeting the new. With the bids of farewell to the seniors who are leaving the dance program, Peninsula is transitioning from this year to the next.
This year, there is a larger number of seniors leaving the Peninsula dance program than previously. For example, Varsity Dance is losing 11 members from the team. For underclassmen like junior and Varsity Dance member Jennifer Vieweg, the departure of the seniors has been a bittersweet experience.
“It is crazy to see so many of the seniors leaving, and it is kind of weird thinking that they will not be around next year,” Vieweg said. “The bond we created as a team, though, will not be changed because of the distance put between us.”
For COED Choreo, this season was especially sentimental due to the increased bond that was created within the team. With 16 seniors leaving the team, COED Choreo will be losing a chunk of members who shaped the team’s dynamic. This year, members wanted to focus more on mental health and team bonding, which resulted in family-like inclusiveness. To junior and COED Choreo varsity captain Chrislyn Tseng, the departure of this year’s senior class hits close to home.
“When I think about the seniors leaving, [I think about] how much they have taught and influenced me with their presence and dedication, whether that be with dance or just life in general,” Tseng said. “This graduating class is truly something special, and I will miss them more than I ever thought I could miss people.”
Like COED Choreo, Advanced Dance is also losing a large sum of their members with eight dancers graduating. This group of dancers also focused on team bonding this year, creating a stronger connection between its members. For freshman and Advanced Dance member Keila Bara, seeing her role models move into the next step of their journey is a hard but meaningful experience.
“The seniors on this team are people I look up to, and they made the team what it was this year,” Bara said. “They made [my first year on this team and at this school] the most unforgettable experience, and I am going to miss them so much.”
Junior and Choreo Company captain Mirai Takeuchi bears the weight of losing a number of the seniors on her team as well. With 11 seniors graduating, Takeuchi and the rest of the team reminisce this season and how these individuals shaped the team. Although the team heavily emphasized on their skills and artistry as dancers this year, Choreo Company persevered through with lessons from their graduating class and overall team spirit.
“With half of Choreo Company being the senior class, it is a bit sad knowing 11 of us will graduating,” Takeuchi said. “However, we were able to learn something from each of the seniors this year, whether it be with dance or not.”
Although most of the seniors are majoring in an area unrelated to dancing at their respective universities, some desired to pursue her passion beyond high school. Senior Ione Ogawa decided to undertake a dance major at Chapman University in the fall. After spending four years of her high school career on the Varsity Dance team, Ogawa decided to expand her talents in the arts through college and possibly beyond. Varsity Dance head coach Kimi Hendrick believes in her potential to pursue dance at Chapman University and potentially making it a career.
“Ione is very qualified to pursue a dance major because she is the hardest-working student I have ever had,” Hendrick said. “She loves to dance from the depths of her soul, and she approaches life as an artist.”
Ogawa was initially trained as a ballet dancer which built the foundation of her artistry. However, once she enrolled in high school, Ogawa began to branch out to other styles such as contemporary, jazz, and even hip-hop. Along with these styles, her skills even resonate in improvisation in which she competed at various competitions. With this wide variety of styles and techniques Ogawa learned throughout her journey as a dancer, from Hendrick’s instruction to her overall growth, she is now taking her passion to the next level in college.
“Usually ballet dancers are very automated and lack creativity, but Ione has a great sense of musicality and style [with improvisation] and has the ability to live in the moment,” Hendrick said. “[The one piece of advice I have for Ogawa is to] live [her] best life. [She has] all of the talent and passion [she] needs. Let everyone see it.”
Despite the inevitable goodbyes a graduating class may bring, the Peninsula dance teams hope to integrate the lessons and experiences the seniors brought to the program and internalize it to better the future of its dancers.
“The team has been my second home this year, and it was thanks to all of [the seniors], who are now moving on to bigger and better things,” Tseng said. “I cannot wait to see where they go and what they accomplish”