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High schools use dance to portray national issues at Hofstra event

By Andrea Ordonez  Managing Editor

Along with the fine arts exhibit and dramatic monologues of Expressions of Democracy, Hofstra's Dance Department celebrated the fusion of democracy and dance through performances done by dance majors and students from local high schools. Dance majors performed pieces that focused on community and celebration, including a South African dance, Irish step dance and an African "Lamban."

The University hosted a dance contest for high schools in the area beginning last April. Out of 15 pieces, performances from six schools were chosen for the Democracy Dance Project showcase in Adams Playhouse: Our Lady of Mercy Academy, St. John the Baptist High School, Valley Stream Central High School, Half Hollow Hills East High School, Walt Whitman High School and Holy Trinity Diocesan High School.

Through primarily modern dance, students addressed themes like domestic violence, homelessness and bullying. Rachel List, director of the Dance Department, praised the high school performances for covering worldly topics. "Dance is a different way of expressing things, and sometimes it's expressing things in a way that words can't get across," she said. "I'm very impressed by young people who can think seriously about important topics and express it physically on stage."

One of those difficult topics included immigration, a current political issue that students from Walt Whitman High School illustrated in "Borders." The performers used a white cloth that, in the duration of the piece, was slowly raised to symbolize a wall blocking immigrants. The cloth blocked the dancers from seeing a girl symbolizing Lady Liberty, who moved across the stage with an American flag. At the end of the performance, the two dancers holding the cloth as a wall weaved around Lady Liberty to tie her up.

While "Borders" touched on a national issue, "Miss Invisible" and "Pressure" dealt with personal issues such as bullying and high school pressure. While "Pressure" had plenty of lifts and flips, "Miss Invisible" portrayed bullying lyrically, with each performer dancing away from the group at different points of the piece.

Cynthia Bogard, producing director of Expressions of Democracy, expressed how performances including the Democracy Dance Project were added to the day's event to include more departments. She hoped the day educate students and drew their attention to the University. "This is our future student population from Long Island," said Bogard of the flocks of young people around the quads on South Campus. "So it's good to have a little positive experience in the back of their mind."

Dancers from Walt Whitman High School perform "Borders" at Adams Playhouse.

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