3 February 2023
The lights are dim as the dancers step onto stage and get ready to dance. The crowd goes silent as the curtains unfold. The lights brighten and the music starts. The Howard County Dance Festival is about to begin.
Ms. Haffey and the senior and junior dance companies were very excited to be a part of the HoCo Dance Festival. They have worked hard to make Saturday the 28th a perfect day for Atholton dance and other HoCo dancers
“I am very excited to participate in the dance festival,” said Gaby Hernandez, a senior here at Atholton. “This will be the first time the festival will take place since the COVID shutdown. I can’t wait to showcase our dance and watch the other schools perform.”
The HoCo Dance Festival is a performance that was hosted on January 28th and consists of all 12 schools dancing at one of the schools in the county. Only the junior and senior companies were dancing and then there were three selected students from each school that were picked for the all county ensemble which consisted of Syndey Aldred, Anna Tzeng, and Taylor Ukstins. Each school performed a dance piece they had been working on or a piece they did during the winter concert. It is a chance for all schools to show what dance is all about. Since there was no dance festival last year due to COVID, Atholton has the exciting opportunity to host this year’s first ever HoCo Dance Festival since the shutdown. This was Howard County’s 26th dance festival.
Dance teachers from around Howard County know their dancers are fully prepared to take on big dance performances that they haven’t had the chance to participate in for two years. Some dancers were or still are trying to find their way back to the studio and working together.
“We have been working toward the Festival for a couple of months and I think we are ready! We are looking forward to the performance!” said Ms. Tucci, the Wilde Lake High School dance teacher. Atholton’s very own Ms. Haffey was also very excited to host and have her dancers perform. “I wasn’t scheduled to host this year but they asked me to do the first one coming back from COVID,” Ms. Haffey said.
Other teachers from the county were eager to be able to participate in this. “I am very excited to be a part of the dance festival. I think it is a wonderful opportunity to see the work that other students and teachers are putting in,” said Ms. Johnson, the dance teacher from Hammond High.
Dancers here at Atholton were very excited to dance as well. This will be some of the dancers’ first performance at a HoCo Dance Festival. “I am very excited because I get to not only perform, but watch dance companies from all over the county perform,” said Molly Panepento, another senior at Atholton. Not only students at Atholton, but dancers from all over the county were ecstatic to be dancing in this festival after a two year wait.
Since this is a county wide dance performance, dance professionals, administrators, and some Board of Education members were in attendance. Most of the time, admin and Board of Ed members don’t see what the dancers do and what they are all about, this was a very big opportunity for dancers to show what they are all about. “I’m not nervous about the professional dancers and board members watching our dances. I’m excited to perform for them and hear their feedback on our performance,” Gaby Hernandez said.
The last school to host a HoCo Dance Festival was Howard High School according to Ms. Haffey. “We will start with Atholton and then rotate through all 13 schools now starting next year,” said Ms. Haffey.
This was an important performance to every teacher and student dancer in the county and since important people like the Board of Ed and Admin were there, it made this dance even more important.
Ms. Haffey said, “but it always works out like [the dancers] always magically get it done, I don’t know how.”