While many students head home for the day, the ORHS dance team is hard at work choreographing a performance for the next sports game. Here is an inside look at the new Oyster River Dance Club practices. Meeting after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the practice starts with a group warm up led by the club founder, Evy Ashburner (‘22). The group then goes over the dance routine before going through several practice techniques. The group is joined by UNH Dance Team member Alexis Silvestri. At the end of class, the dance team finishes with a group cooldown and a prep for their next halftime performance.
The Oyster River Dance club was founded this year by Oyster River senior Evy Ashburner (‘22). She has been interested in starting a team since her freshman year. Oyster River has a lot of dancers for many different local studios and she wanted to create a team where they could come together as a school to challenge each other. Ashburner said, “I love how challenging it is. It is so much work to make it look easy.”
Silvestri is a student at the UNH Dance Company and the designated choreographer for the Oyster River Dance Team. The team performed a Pom routine at the girls basketball halftime on January 6th that was choreographed by Silvestri. Pom is a combination of cheer and hip hop dancing that combines the gymnastic and dance training of the girls on the Oyster River team. According to Silvestri, “[dance] is about doing something you love with other people who love it.” Part of her participation in the dance team is to help Ashburner teach the routine and strengthen the team as a whole through practice exercises.
The practice technique used most often when the group meets involves splitting into small groups and watching each other perform the routine. This is an important exercise not only for the students dancing, but also for the students who watch and critique the performance. It gives the groups an opportunity to notice things they need to work on as a whole and things they may have been doing but are unsure of how to fix. This technique is helpful for learning timing and choreography retention. This also allows for the girls to give praise in addition to constructive criticism on things they may not notice when they are dancing themselves. According to Grace Kasper (‘25), her favorite part of being on the dance team is the group’s supportive attitude. “We all support each other, . . . it ‘s such a healthy [environment] which [can be] really hard to find in the dance [community],”says Kasper. At the end of practice, the team participates in a group cool down.
The cooldown is not only an essential part of healthy dancing, but also a time for team bonding. It allows time for the group to discuss upcoming performances and what they need to work on for the next practice. This is also time to talk as a group about the dance and Oyster River community.
The dance club works hard to create routines to perform for the Oyster River community at sporting events. The Oyster River Dance Club will be performing next at the halftime of the unified basketball game right after school on January 27th.