Dance Class Is in Session

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Sequins, black lingerie and vampires were just a few of the features audience members enjoyed in this spring’s dance performance in the theater in Sierra Nevada’s gym at GCC.

The show, which has been running annually for more than 30 years, features a variety of styles ranging from jazz to ballet to hip hop.
Put on by GCC’s dance production class, Dance 136, and directed by Dance Department Chair Lynn McMurrey, this year’s cast met an audience-packed dance gym to put on 16 individual dance performances in the last weekends of May.

“I’m very proud of the students,” said McMurrey. “They worked so hard on the performance.”

All students enrolled in the dance class were able to participate in the production in one way or another, said McMurrey. “Every student gets involved in the production in some way, even if they don’t dance.”
Students are also given the chance to choreograph their own numbers, as long as they’ve been enrolled in the dance choreography class, Dance 130.

The opening act of the show featured a number from “Moulin Rouge” titled, “Cell Block Tango.” This number grabbed audience members with its sex appeal, bare skin and risqué costumes. Choreographed by student Anasheh Abramiyan, the performance opened up for the 15 other numbers that followed.

Student Johanna Lozano participated in many of the dance numbers in this year’s performance. “It’s really a lot of fun but of course since we only meet twice a week we really have to be focused,” she said. “You have to pick up the steps.”

Lozano, seen in such numbers as “Free As a Bird,” and “Rainbow Bright” enjoyed the glamorous aspect of performing for an audience. “We get the professional feeling,” she said.

The show featured a number of other performances including a vampire-themed act, which included an appearance by McMurrey in “Suckas!” This number was choreographed by his assistant, Patt Paczynksi. Paczynksi has choreographed various television shows and GCC performances.

GCC student Travis Riner was seen in this number and enjoyed not only his involvement in the show but also working with his fellow dancers. “[They are] a very talented group of people,” he said.

The full-cast finale, choreographed by Ned Siton’s was called “It’s Janet….” This was an ensemble performance with a diverse, energetic and moving number which was performed to a mix of Janet Jackson hits. All 44 members of the cast appeared on the stage at one time to conclude the show.

Director McMurrey is proud of the students in his show and their ability to venture off with their creativity in their dance numbers. “It’s very exciting,” he said, “I like to leave them with as much freedom as possible.”

Every year the show features a special guest artist. This year, Anna Djanbazian, director of the Djanbazian Dance Academy in La Crescenta was the featured artist.

Djanbazian, a UCLA graduate with a master’s degree in choreography, is a professional dancer, choreographer and instructor. Much of her choreography has been used throughout Southern California.

While students enjoyed working Djanbazian in this performance, they are often encouraged to collaborate with theater students in productions at GCC and as dance students are required to take courses in music, singing, stage craft and theatre, said McMurrey. “About a third of our dance students are also theatre students,” he said. This is to ensure that students are well-rounded in their artistic endeavors.

The dance department at GCC is successful in transferring its students to Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Irvine, both of which have respected dance programs, said McMurrey. Many even move on to do commercials after taking courses at GCC.