MacDuffie Dances

Dima Aboukasm, Staff Writer

It is quite a busy time for MacDuffie’s dance department! With the Spring Dance Concert just around the corner, Ms. Muzzy and her dancers are all busy preparing for the show. Some of the main highlights of the concert, which will take place on May 4th and 5th, are the MacDuffie Dancers performing a professionally choreographed dance, as well as a feature of five student-created dances.

This is not the first time that MacDuffie has had a guest artist visit the campus and teach a dance. Dance Teacher Angie Muzzy has had guest artists teach her students new material and skills each year for the past three years. Muzzy explained, “Depending on who is available, I try to bring in different people who have different skills so that it’s not the same thing every year. It’s an opportunity for our MacDuffie Dancers, for our dance program, and for the entire community, it is an opportunity to learn from someone else.”

This year’s artist was Shakiah Johnson,  a graduate of the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter High School and Dean College. Johnson was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, and has dedicated her life to teaching and sharing her love of Hip Hop Dance and Culture. She has choreographed over 40 dances in her career so far.

Johnson visited the MacDuffie campus on Friday, March 30th for 2 hours, where she taught the MacDuffie dancers the basic skills they would need to be fully equipped to learn the dance. According to Muzzy, “She taught skills that they needed to learn in the hip-hop vernacular, including certain social dances.”

The next day, on Saturday, March 31st, Johnson came in again for 6 hours and that is when she taught the twelve dancers the fully choreographed dance and gave them all the material they would need to keep on practicing and perfecting the dance to perform later on.

“The kids had a lot of fun. Overall, I think it was a really great experience for our 12 dancers. Some have previous experience in hip-hop dance, but some did no, so overall it was really beneficial and they ended up learning a 4 minute and 20 second dance. So, we’ve just been rehearsing it since, and it has just gotten better every single time.”

Akana Nakamura, an eighth grader who is a Macduffie dancer said about the experience, “This was the first time in my life dancing hip-hop and it was so exciting! I had a really good time and I’m so glad I did it. Shakiah Johnson was a very good teacher and she was very skillful.”

In addition to Johnson’s exciting dance coming up, there will also be five student choreographer dances. The student choreographers Oliva Ramirez, Jordan Skibel, Kayla Deecher, Jocelyn St. Onge, and Zeynep Erol are all part of Muzzy’s choreography class, which is offered in the spring to upperclassmen. The class teaches the skills needed to create and produce a complete dance, while the culmination of the class is that the students must produce their own dance.

Muzzy said, “The whole class is about how do you organize a dance, how do you rehearse, how do you find dancers, how do you teach them, and then, how do you craft a dance and build it. It’s really about process and leadership and how we create a dance.”  

With all these exciting dances being prepared, the Spring Concert is bound to be an amazing and exciting show for all involved—including the audience and the dancers. Please come out to support your fellow classmates, friends, and teachers who have worked hard and put in a lot of time and effort to put this show together for you.