By Karen Billing
There’s a new movement on the Torrey Pines High School campus and you’ll find it in the dance studio. Dressed all in black, the students there are engaged, lively and happy to be in a classroom free of desks where they can express themselves through dance.
On their birthdays they have to use their bodies to spell out their names in front of the class — yes, even a “W” is possible with this crew.
Last week the sea of black T-shirts was accessorized by a stream of tulle as tutus were trimmed for the big upcoming school dance show, the Expression Session. To be held on June 11 at 7 p.m. in the school gym, the year-end showcase will also feature art and film in addition to 24 choreographed dances ranging from hip hop to modern to a fun tribute to “*NSYNC.”
Torrey Pines may be known more for athletics than art, but this year the dance team was among the sports teams bringing home championships. The lyrical and jazz group won the Dance Drill Nationals in Anaheim on March 27.
The dance department’s building hype and winning ways could be attributed to director Sarah Kaye, who joined the staff two years ago and has watched excitedly as she has tripled the number of students taking dance.
Kaye was a professional dancer for over 20 years, dancing modern and ballet locally with McCaleb Dance in La Jolla and the Mojalet Dance Collective. She retired in 2006, her body tired from years of fulfilling her childhood dream.
After Kaye was hired on as a guest artist at Canyon Crest Academy, she realized she really enjoyed the experience of teaching dance so she went back to school to get her teaching credential, finally landing at Torrey Pines.
“I love it here, I couldn’t be happier,” Kaye said of her duties teaching “dance PE” and dance teams.
Kaye has worked hard to incorporate modern dance and new forms of movement into the curriculum. At first the students resisted, it took them awhile to open their minds to it and for Kaye to break through.
“It’s so different,” said junior dancer Perry Katz. “At first I was confused and thought it was weird but it taught me more about my dancing because modern is the core for every style. I really do respect her for teaching us that.”
Kaye said she hopes to never stop pushing and challenging her students to try new things.
“The one thing I learned, being a new teacher, was the more you expect, the more you get from the kids,” Kaye said. “I’ve been relentless on discipline and they’ve produced a lot more work, they’ve grown and gotten better.”
This year 96 students showed up to audition for the dance team. With the interest up and talent high, Kaye was able to field a JV and varsity dance team.
The dance team has 50 members, performing as spirited halftime entertainment at football games and also making appearances this year at basketball and lacrosse games.