Long Beach High School’s International Baccalaureate Dance students brought their choreography and talent to the community’s Martin Luther King Center in honor of Black History Month. The juniors and seniors performed a special selection of dances, all of which tied to the event’s theme.
Patrons of the MLK Center observed many styles of dance, with original choreography developed by the students, as well as that inspired by renowned artists. The event opened with a presentation of a Buschache dance, which featured aspects of African and Caribbean culture and costumes made by students. The movements infused within the next several numbers represented the acts of working, supporting others, standing up for what people believe in, praying, suffering and begging for freedom.
Students provided brief explanations of each dance and the messages it portrayed. Jessica Cerky announced a duet she performed along with Rachel Cucina that symbolized the Freedom Riders’ efforts to help African Americans fight for civil rights in the form of two dancers trying to help one another.
“Helping one another and believing in one another back then is what we need to do now,” she said. “When we help and believe in each other, there’s no stopping this community.”
The group also performed an excerpt from Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, which they learned through their participation in a master class with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater School.
IB Dance Teacher Christianne Vella provided background information about the group’s work. The students will take the stage of Long Beach High School in their annual dance recital on March 24 at 7 p.m. Superintendent of Schools David Weiss thanked the dancers and audience, and noted that dance involves a combination of discipline and creative choreography.
MLK Center Board of Directors Chairman James Hodge also expressed gratitude to the performers.
“I am honored to be here and witness these amazing dancers,” he said. “There is so much that comes out of dancing.”
Before heading back to school, the students were joined by MLK Dance/Fitness Instructor Giovanni Hamilton for a few final dance steps.