“The Four Elements,” performed by the Franklin Contemporary Company, was choreographed to demonstrate the nature of the four elements. Photo Credit: Leif Sjoquist Photography.

The Winter Dance Showcase is a benefit to help generate funds for the spring performance Arts Alive. It also demonstrates dance techniques that have been developed over the first semester within dance classes at Franklin. It includes performances not only choreographed by Franklin’s dance instructor Sonia Kellermann, but also by students and by the artist in residency, Jocelyn Steury. Kellermann has been the head of the dance department at Franklin for around four years now. She never expected the Dance Showcase to get as big as it is now. “I suspect that if we keep on this trajectory, we will have two large shows a year. It really has grown,” says Kellerman. 

In fact, it has grown to a total of nineteen performances throughout, including a cameo from the Franklin Chorus, multiple technical demonstrations from the foundational classes, and a preview of Jocelyn Steury’s documentary Believe the Beat.

Four Elements – Franklin Contemporary Company 

Choreography: Sonia Kellermann

Music: “Dy” by Nosaj Thing 

“Four Elements was a dance I initiated the first year that I taught at Franklin and I developed it with the Advanced Dance Performance class,” says Kellermann. The idea was to look at how the elements would move if they were embodied or sentient. Sonia and her class then developed the choreography based off of that concept. It wasn’t until the students decided to take another look at the routine and further develop it. “We costumed it a little differently and separated each student by the four elements.” The brown leotards and shirts represent earth, the dark blue represents water, the light blue represents air, and the red represents fire.

Sustain – Franklin Hip Hop Company 

Choreography: Jocelyn Steury
Music: “Soundclash” by Flosstradamus and TroyBoi

“Sustain” was choreographed by Steury. “She has a history in Brazillian hip hop. I brought her in to develop a new work for company kids. I can’t speak to her artistic process but it is a work in progress that we are developing for Arts Alive,” explains Kellermann. The costumes for “Sustain” were simple; the dancers wore black leggings and colored hoodies.

The Madison – Period 6 Intermediate Dance
Music: “The Madison Time” by Ray Bryant & His Combo 

“The Madison” is based on an original film by John Waters that evolved into a social dance from the 1960’s in Baltimore, Maryland, where kids would learn certains steps and a caller would call out certain moves, which you can hear during the song. Dancers were costumed in sixties attire. The students in many of the classes, but especially for “The Madison,” were really interested in being costumed, according to Kellermann. “We had never really costumed this show before because it was meant to be a demonstration of technique, but I felt pulled to follow the students’ lead.” Students even worked with the theater department to aid those who would have otherwise gone without a costume.

New Rules – Period 5 Advanced Dance Performance 

Student choreography under direction of Sonia Kellermann 

Music: “New Rules” by Dua Lipa 

“New Rules” was a choreography experiment that the Advanced Dance Performance and Kellermann conducted. “I wasn’t expecting to costume it, but I was interested in looking at the struggle of a woman who is trying to exit a dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship.” This type of dysfunction is exactly what Dua Lipa’s song is trying to convey. It is about creating rules for herself so that she doesn’t fall back into a relationship that is damaging. The routine demonstrates these new rules through “some controlled movement, and a lift. The choreography really is student driven in that piece, I only shaped it. They designed it.”

Driving Fast – Franklin Tap Company
Choreography: Grace Curley
Music: “Driving a Car While Listening to Bill Burr’s Podcast” by dné
“Grace Curley is a tap savant. She developed that choreography entirely on her own. I am very excited to support students who generate their own content.” “Driving Fast” was a wonderful demonstration of technique and creativity by one of the younger student choreographers at Dance at Franklin. The goal of “Driving Fast” was to create something different from the tap pieces previously seen at Franklin. To move on from the traditional style of tap. The music choice was methodical because it left a lot of room to hear the tap shoes. The costumes were chosen by Kellermann. 

Disco Party – Period 1 Beginning Dance 

Choreography: Sonia Kellermann

Music: “Night Fever” by the BeeGees

“We had finished a routine and wanted to do something fun and upbeat. I wanted to do a social dance, so we based it off of the Electric Slide, took inspiration for the partner work from The Hustle, and added some Soul Train,” says Kellermann. “Disco Party” gives the audience a chance to be free and vibe with the reality that disco isn’t as bad as people say it is and maybe they should wear more glitter because it looked great in the light of the disco ball. 

Jewelry Box – Franklin Ballet Company
Student choreography under direction of Sonia Kellermann 

Music: “Waltz from Coppélia” by The Czech Philharmonic

The Franklin Ballet Company never disappoint when they are on stage. They hold incredible balance and technique with a graceful stage presence. The unique stage design featured Arden Horacek on top of a jewelry box and other talented members of the Ballet Company like Brennan McConnell-Griner. It has wonderful influence from the Nutcracker, a classic ballet performance that time of the year. “I don’t know how the idea came to our minds, but we were looking for something to convey the holiday time of year without the religion,” says Kellermann. The dancers had a lot of fun with Jewelry Box and plan on developing it further for Arts Alive. 

Balaya – Period 7 Advanced Dance

Student choreography under direction of Sonia Kellermann 

Music: “Balaya” by A-Star

All of the choreography for “Balaya” is student generated. “We were looking for something with more of a hip-hop, international, global flavor.” “Balaya” has some West African influences along with some European French as well. The creation of “Balaya” was a step in the direction of encouraging a more flavorful and less eurocentric study of dance at Franklin. Kellermann is very interested in incorporating culturally aware dance education and hopes that more students of color join dance in the future to help realize this goal. The stage presence of this class was incredible. You could really feel the energy and excitement radiate from the dancers into the audience.

Let it Snow – Period 5 Advanced Dance Performance

Choreography: Sonia Kellermann with student collaboration 

Music: “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Frank Sinatra

“Let it Snow” was a wonderful ode to the snowy season full of ugly Christmas sweaters that were fashionably worn by the talented tap dancers and a wonderful sprinkling of snow. The snowflake configuration while the snow fell was adorable. “I wanted to do something holiday themed without directly being religious and I really wanted it to be a tap number that put something that the grandparents could relate to into the show. I wanted a multigenerational connection,” said Kellermann. What a way to introduce the holiday season. The dance performances at Franklin always have one song or two that is relatable to older generations to help traverse generational gaps and make the modern and current music seem less jarring. 

One Singular Sensation – Period 5 Advanced Dance Performance
Choreography: Michael Bennett and Bob Avian
Music: “One (Reprise)/ Finale” by A Chorus Line Ensemble

Though it was by far one of the more technical numbers seen during this showcase, the dancers executed it wonderfully. “One Singular Sensation” is a classic musical theater number that is very challenging. “The students worked extremely hard to master this.” It was chosen by Kellermann in part because of her overall fondness for the musical and also because of its level of emotion and connection to what it means to be a performer and dancer and the risks that are taken by them. “As performers we put ourselves in an extremely vulnerable position,” said Kellermann.

The Winter Dance Showcase is just a taste of what is to come from Arts Alive. It is a showcase of Franklin High School student talent, directed by Sonia Kellerman. The show features inspiring work by student musicians, dance, theater, and more.

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