Williston Dancers Prepare to “Break the Silence”


Credit: Nhi Nguyen ’19

If you have something to say but you can’t speak out, let the Williston dancers say it for you in the “Break the Silence” dance concert.

This fall, there will be 26 dancers from 8th graders to seniors participating in the show on November 9 and 10. The dancers had about six weeks to prepare for 11 pieces in the concert. There are diverse styles of dance throughout the show, which include: jazz, hip-hop, ballet/lyrical, contemporary/modern, and musical theater.

The dance captains are Sophie Cowperthwait and Kassandra Orcutt.

Kassandra is “super excited” for the dance concert.

“My favorite piece right now is Debra Vega’s ‘Level Up.’ It’s a full company hip-hop piece and it’s really fun and definitely pumps everyone up.”

The dancers are instructed by Mrs. Debra Vega, who has been dancing since she was four years-old and had experience on Broadway before she came to Williston.

Vega expressed her amazement with the choreographers for continuously improving every year.

“What I am constantly impressed with is the seemingly unlimited capacity by the dancers to create so much movement in all different styles,” said Vega. “One year, a student will choose to do jazz, and the next year contemporary, and the next year musical theater, all by the same choreographer!”

She continued to praise the dancers.

“The choreographers take on the tremendous task of creating work in just six weeks (rehearsing for one hour a week), teaching it to their cast, figuring out costume and lighting concepts, and often performing in the piece themselves,” said Vega. “All of this while learning seven to eight other pieces to be performed in the same concert.”

Hearing that the dancers wanted to add some hip-hop to the concert, Vega decided to create one full company piece for everyone to be a part in.

“I participated in a three-day Dance Teacher Convention over the summer in NYC and learned some of the most current moves from L.A. based hip-hop choreographer Tricia Miranda,” said Vega. “I was excited to pass her choreography on to the dancers, as well as [adding] my own choreography in the same style.”

Vega’s other full company piece is called “We Dance” and she loves that it allows everyone the opportunity to work together as a full cast.

“I’m particularly proud of our interpretation of ‘We Dance’ from the current Broadway musical ‘Once On This Island,’ which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical this year,” said Vega. “I saw the production in NYC over the summer and just knew I had to pass this story along to the dance ensemble members. I hope it is a colorful, beautiful, feel-good story to end the concert.”

This year’s guest artist is Charles Markham, who is a local dancer/teacher/choreographer. Markham is returning to choreograph for Williston for the fourth time. His piece is entitled, “Voices: Unheard/Overheard,” which dives into how it feels to be afraid to speak up about injustice, and the consequences of remaining silent.

“His piece shows that we are stronger when we band together,” explained Vega.