Choreographers inspire audience in showcase at Santee Lakes

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Summertime is not a good time for kids to be spending indoors. It is the best time to be outdoors.

Darcy Fagerwold, owner of Expressions Dance and Movement in Santee, took this to heart, bringing a choreography dance camp outside to Santee Lakes.

On July 20, about fifty people put their lawn chairs down in front of the amphitheater at Lake Five.

Fagerwold walked up to the microphone at the amphitheater and welcomed everyone.

Summertime is not a good time for kids to be spending indoors. It is the best time to be outdoors.

Darcy Fagerwold, owner of Expressions Dance and Movement in Santee, took this to heart, bringing a choreography dance camp outside to Santee Lakes.

On July 20, about fifty people put their lawn chairs down in front of the amphitheater at Lake Five.

Fagerwold walked up to the microphone at the amphitheater and welcomed everyone.

“But you will need to leave your lawn chairs behind and move up closer to the amphitheater for the first couple of dances and then move around to various sites around the lake,” she said.  “I know, it’s very different having a dance showcase outside, but you will like it.”

The young dancers, Fagerwold said, have acclimated to their new stage quite well.

“The kids have really taken to it,” she said. “At first, they were unsure about it when we started our choreography camp on Monday out here. Now it seems so natural, because it is.”

Fagerwold said she loved the idea of using dance camp as a way of breaking the boundaries of the dance studio.

“Our kids don’t spend enough time outdoors,” she said. “Having a dance camp and showcase outdoors was my way of putting the two worlds together.”

The choreographers chose their own music, dance style, concept, costumes, dancers and dance site to work with. All of their choices had to be approved by program director Stephanie Vasquez, and in some cases the sites and dancers needed to be negotiated.

Vasquez explained that the point of the workshop is to offer our dancers the full experience of what it is like to be a choreographer.

“Many of our dancers wish to one day go on and choreograph professionally, and by giving them full responsibility for their dance, with guidance of course, we hope to prepare them for the future.

“I cannot tell you how proud we are of the song and theme choices our dancers made for the showcase,” Vasquez said.

All of the dancers chose a song with a powerful message that aligns with the values of Expressions Dance and Movement Center. “Shooting Star” and “Perfect” were both dances about believing in yourself and having the courage to live in your own unique way, and “In My Blood” was a dance about supporting and caring for your friends when they need you. 

Samantha Maden-Grimm, the choreographer for “In My Blood,” a dance on and around the rocks on one of the lake’s mini-islands, said the decision behind this dance was a personal one.

“We wanted to do something that expressed our support for a friend who has spent some time in the hospital,” she said. “She has always loved and supported us and we wat to do the same for her.”

Kiana Corpodian, who choreographed the first piece to the song called “Madness” said that the experience of working outdoors was tiring and very hard at times.

“Overall, it was fun but hard to work in the conditions and new space,” said Corpodian. “I’m so used to being in the studio or on the dance floor, so it was interesting and challenging to be outdoors.”

Shaylin Fagerwold, with her sister Ella, choreographed a piece to “Perfect” to which they danced in the playground.

“While I have choreographed a few times before, I found that being outside in such a unique location almost made my choreographing process easier than it had ever been before,” she said. “Once I got over the initial discomfort, my surroundings inspired my movement, and gave me the ability to be more creative.”

After the joyous finale, with all the dancers and director dancing on and around the benches in a big grove of trees to “Beauty in the World,” the audience crowded in to ask when they would see another such performance.

Next year, Fagerwold plans to lengthen the camp hours to provide them with more rehearsal time.

“The showcase they created in just four days this week was beautiful and incorporated many key principles that they learned over the course of their camp,” said Fagerwold. “I am more than proud of my students’ hard work, dedication, and professionalism in creating this show.”   

Proceeds from the dance showcase went to support Darby’s Dances, a national non-profit organization that works with dance studious throughout the United States to provide free dance classes for children with special needs.

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