Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 18, 2012

'Keep calm and dance on'


TRAVERSE CITY — What began as an idea to develop a more intensive dance program at Traverse City West High School is about to be presented as a student-choreographed show. The dance II choreography class will perform in "Keep Calm and Dance On" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, in the school auditorium.

The class instructor, former professional dancer turned teacher Philip Leete, is excited for the opportunity.

"Many of these students have been dancing for 12 to 14 years," Leete said. "But they've never developed their own idea during dance and given it to someone else."

Just 11 weeks into the class, the students have choreographed pieces ranging from duos to up to six dancers and have directed their fellow students — a first-time experience for many.

"I've learned that it's pretty hard to choreograph on my own," said junior Ellie LaPointe, who has been dancing for 12 years. "I just learn choreography all the time, so I've never had that experience. It makes me think about things and realize how difficult it can be."

Providing a challenge for students who have danced as long as LaPointe has was a big reason for starting the class.

"These students who have devoted their lives to dance can express their thoughts and emotions through choreography," Leete said. "It's not something they get a lot of in the studios. They can take hours and hours of classes, but very limited time is spent exploring their own ideas, and that's where this class comes in."

"Keep Calm and Dance On" will be performed at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The cost is $2, with proceeds supporting future dance programs at West.