The Choreographers Behind Pep Rally Routines

Photo courtesy of Girl's Varsity Volleyball

Every year, Choate’s best dancers choreograph Pep Rally performances for varsity teams.

“I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!” Last Friday night, the WJAC overflowed with cheers and blue-and-gold spirit during the annual Deerfield Day pep rally. This year, the administration asked athletic teams not to film a video to air at the rally but instead to perform a dance routine, live on stage.

“They told us to not to videos because they’re not interactive,” Ellie Kim ‘19, choreographer for the Varsity Volleyball team said. “We originally wanted to do a dance and a video with bloopers of rehearsals — it would have been funny since none of us are dancers.”

In order to create dances for the performances, student choreographers were brought in from outside the sports teams to help craft routines.

“It was really hard coming up with ideas because Senior Soccer is a really big group — 40 people — which is much larger than groups I’m used to choreographing for,” Katie Lee ’18 said. However, nothing stopped her from taking on the challenge. “It was especially difficult because no one had much experience. I wanted to make it easy, really fun, and have people feel comfortable on stage.”

“In general, when doing choreography, the process is different for each person,” Ellie Kim ’19, both an athlete on Varsity Volleyball and a choreographer said.  “I need to be inspired and not be annoyed by the song.”

“For Senior Soccer, we really just wanted to let loose and kick a ball around,” Donessa Colley ’18 said. “Dancing in front of the whole school was really only for varsity teams, so we wanted to take this opportunity to have some fun.”

Song choices for the choreographies ranged from catchy “Team Lilman Anthem” (Senior Soccer) to “Mi Gente” (Volleyball) to ever popular pop songs like “Fergalicious” (Field Hockey) and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” (Senior Soccer).

“I talked with the captains about what music they wanted me to do,” Madi Epstein-O’Halloran ’18, the Varsity Field Hockey choreographer said. “I picked the music, mixed it for them, and sort of created very simple moves emulating zumba — something that would make them look good, and at the same time be easy for them to do cleanly. It’s important for the athletes to feel confident on stage dancing. I didn’t want my choreography to make them feel uncomfortable.”

For the choreographers, creating a routine for inexperienced dancers was a drastically different experience.

“It was definitely really hard for me and Katie,” Colley said. “We’ve both been dancing for a number of years, and moves that come naturally to us do not come as naturally or easily for them. We had to simplify or slow some things down, which was a hard process, but we got used to it.”

“The hardest part was getting people on board since they didn’t have the experience of learning a routine and performing onstage,” Lee said.  “But everyone learned really fast. If anyone had questions, we would just walk over it slower.”

“I don’t think I had any problem getting them to work for me. This group was really good in terms of listening to me and being serious with getting the dance down. They wanted to look good, so with everything I told them, they listened and followed,” Epstein-O’Halloran said. “They’re really fun to work with. I really enjoyed choreographing for them.”

Although making the dance routine and rehearsing it proved to be both challenging and fun, everything came to fruition at the pep rally.

“My favorite moment in the dance is definitely the two boys doing ‘Single Ladies.’ There’s a booty pop and a little roll over,” Colley said. “One of them even got kicked in the head during a cartwheel at rehearsals, and he just kept going. He didn’t let a minor

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