Photo Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun
January 17, 2019
This past Saturday, Wilde Lake High School hosted the annual Howard County Dance Festival, showcasing the work of many hardworking dance departments throughout the county in one performance. Each high school performed a choreographed number from the department’s Junior and Senior Dance Companies. With 14 high schools in attendance, there was an estimated total of 471 students.
With a large group of dancers in one show, hosting this event was no easy task. The dance teacher at Wilde Lake, Ms. Christine Estabrook, was open in expressing the challenges that come with hosting. “There are so many pieces to the puzzle,” said Ms. Estabrook. “It is an organizational thing where you have to make sure there is a place for every single school, that everyone is fed, and etc.”
This past festival happened to be the event’s 25th anniversary. Each year has had similar routines for the show day. Many schools arrive early in the morning, as each school is required to participate in a finale rehearsal where all students and dance faculty join together on stage. Afterwards, a dress rehearsal of the show takes place so students can cheer on their fellow dancers and see what the other schools bring to the county’s dance community. This is River Hill dancer Isa Farley’s favorite part of festival day. “Watching and supporting other schools in a common hobby was so fun,” said Farley. “It was nice to see how supportive everyone was today!” With the support came an opportunity to observe the talents brought by other students. Marriotts Ridge junior Clare Hinds commented on some of the pieces showcased. “I saw a lot of different styles today. They were all so unique and interesting in their own way,”said Hinds.
Along with this fellowship among the dancers comes a hope to encourage current dancers to follow their dreams and start their training earlier. Ms. Estabrook shared why this festival is special for the county by speaking on how the “incredible talent in the high schools” could inspire others to join the dance community. For Ms. Estabrook, the first step is making dance more readily available to younger students before reaching the high school level.
“Our goal someday for dance to be in the elementary and middle schools,” said Ms. Estabrook. She shared how many past Howard County Dance Alumni are now performing professionally on Broadway and in the commercial industry, and credited their success to the dance festival, which serves as a foundation for dance programs in the Howard County Dance Department.
The annual festival showcase lived up to its usual praise and the dancers went home with valuable memories. “We always play the game ‘Never Have I Ever’ backstage while we wait to perform,” said Hinds. “We shared a dressing room with Long Reach and they started playing too! We got to spread our tradition to another school and it was hilarious.” These usual backstage antics keep the dancers waiting for the next year’s festival to make even more. With a jam-packed day, it’s easy for the showcase participants to get overwhelmed. This motivation to succeed and the happy energy of the dancers translated well on the stage. It was an extravagant production that left the crowd in a roar of applause. Now that this festival has come to an end, it’s time to start planning for next year!
If you want to see some more talented dancers, come to the Atholton Winter Dance Concert this Friday (and Saturday!