Dancers Take Center Stage at the Afternoon of Student Choreography

Ryan Geisler, Contributing Writer


On a chilly Sunday morning, families, friends, and supporters of Poly’s dance program gathered together for one of the most important dance events of the year — The Afternoon of Student Choreography (ASC). At the end of January, Poly showcases our student choreographers, who choreograph solos, small group, and large group pieces for their class. Students that are not in the dance program are also invited to present their independent work. This event highlights the creativity, originality, and talent of Poly Dance students.

To begin the process of preparing for ASC, in November each member of the Upper School dance program was assigned the task of creating a two-minute composition to any song/style of their choice. After viewing these compositions, Upper School dance teacher Samuel Turner selected a resident choreographer from each class, who would translate their solo composition into a larger group number to be taught and put on stage for the performance. Additionally, other dancers were asked to create solos, duets, trios and quartets with their compositions. Sadie Schoenberger ’25, Angelique Lopez ’26, Olivia Sperling ’26, and Ali Schuman ’25 all created stunning, cohesive, and well-built pieces using the technique and experience learned in Turner’s dance classes.

While ASC is open to everyone, Poly’s more experienced dancers made up the majority of choreographers. “I’ve been dancing for eleven years now,” said Freshman DanceFit student Angelique Lopez. “This helped me because I have been exposed to many different choreographers and learned many things throughout the years.” DanceFit is a new program this year, where students that are new to Poly Dance can start to build a foundation in dance before taking a more advanced class.

Many choreographers used past experiences in dance to help build and develop their compositions. Ali Schuman ‘25 said, “This year I have a contemporary teacher who has taught me the most and also made me realize that a good dance piece isn’t based on how many tricks and turns you can do.” Additionally, Olivia Sperling ‘26, after a long break from dance, said she tried to recall steps from her past experiences and build on them using new techniques. However, past dance experience is not necessary. Turner says that “We had a few dancers with extensive dance history that created compositions equivalent to those with less.”

Sophomore Sadie Schoenberger’s “Listen Before I Go was her first ever choreographed piece. When most students found the task of a two-minute composition daunting, Schoenberger accepted the challenge and worked hard to make her vision come to life. “I had no idea that this was going to be something I fell in love with doing when I began the assignment, especially because I’ve never been a dancer,’’ said Schoenberger. “I remember a week into the project showing Mr. Turner what I had so far, and feeling a confidence performing I never experienced in dance.”  (Schoenberger is the Arts Editor for the Polygon.)

Schoenberger shared inspirations drawing from dozens of TikToks and Pinterest posts of shapes and sequences that Schoenberger wanted to incorporate into her piece with her classmates. Another one of her visions was creating a mashup of Billie Songs that could build off of the song she started with: “The 30th” by Billie Eilish. “I had an idea in my head of what I wanted the piece to sound like, but making that was completely out of my wheelhouse. Luckily, my classmate Sophia Taylor was willing to use her skills in music production to help turn my idea into a reality,” Schoenberger said. “This is why I see my dance as such a collaborative process, because it wouldn’t have been possible without Sophia, Mr. Turner, and so many others in the dance department who constantly worked with me to support me and this piece.”

 Taylor created a mashup of seven different Billie Eilish songs that set the groundwork for a five-minute long piece. “Creating a mashup of something in different keys was not something I had done before, but once we got the ball rolling it became something Sadie and I were both really proud of,” said Taylor. “I remember during Winter Break being over at Sadie’s up until 4 in the morning, working on GarageBand while Sadie drew out shapes, lyrics, lighting, and worked on her choreography. It was exciting to watch, because I felt the dance she was making was so in touch with the music; every beat or lyric tied to a movement.”  

 Although musicality and finding overall inspiration came very naturally to Schoenberger, developing the more technical aspects of the choreography was at times difficult. “Because I’m so new to dance, making shapes with all my dancers was a lot easier than creating more traditional choreography with the classical methods we study at Poly, like the Cecchetti method ballet or Horton contemporary theory,” Schoenberger said. “I remember spending hours at a dinner with my family trying to plan out the triangle we made in the beginning of the dance on a napkin, using a pen from my mom’s purse. Seeing that shape on stage months later felt incredible.” Turner agrees, saying “The imagery architectures within Sadie’s composition were sewn together and mounted on stage seamlessly.”

According to Turner, “This year was another successful performance of student choreography with more diverse perspectives. It was inspiring to witness the team work and creative minds of all the artists.”