Sarah Busic is only 16 but she already knows a bit about love and loss, friendship and betrayal, and moving on. Moving on is at the core of “Bitter,” the dance piece she choreographed for the high school’s dance department production, “In Motion,” at the Artists’ Theatre Dec. 9-11 at 7:30 p.m.
“I was listening to songs by Me’chell Ndegeocello on night and got the inspiration for ‘Bitter.’ It’s all about experiencing hurt or betrayal, but also about being able to forgive and move on and still knowing who you are,” she said.
Fifty of the school’s dancers will entertain their audiences with a refreshing array of funk, ballet, Latin jazz, Broadway steps and, most popular among the dancers at least, the latest hip hop tunes in a season more geared to the inescapable Nutcracker.
The production includes the premiere by choral director Roxanna Ward’s fledging troupe of eight singer-dancers, modeled loosely on the television show “Glee.” The women will combine singing and motion in a tribute to soul singer Aretha Franklin with a medley of her most popular songs, “Think,” “Respect,” and “Natural Woman.” “This will be a launching of this new group, which we hope will widen the outreach of Laguna Beach High School performers,” said Ward. The yet to be named group will eventually consist of singers, dancers, musicians and cross-discipline performers.
Music credits include Kesha, Daft Punk, Imogene Heap, Pink, Ricky Martin, Aerosmith, Linda Eder and Disney tunes.
Department director Lisa Jay coordinated the program with dance faculty member Danielle Pigneri, who, expecting her first child in February, has written her own piece inspired by her impending motherhood.
“The piece is a journey from pregnancy through the birth of a beloved child, and shows a mother’s joys and struggles of raising a child through adulthood. No matter how big a child gets, the mother and daughter will have a lasting bond that endures all. It is a loving tribute to my unborn child that I will share with her someday,” wrote Pigneri via e-mail.
Other choreographers include Erika Fernandez, Tracey Bonner, Kathy Kahn and Darrien Henning.
Henning, a dancer-teacher with Los Angeles’ Millenium Dance Complex and an aspiring entertainment writer, treks to Laguna once a week to coach the troupe on dance moves as well as performance savvy. “Keep your energy constant; pace yourself. It’s better to be great in one piece than mediocre in three,” he advised during last Sunday’s dress rehearsal.
Dressed in requisite hip-hop gear—black hoodie, hat, pants of undetermined length and fit—he held his audience’s attention. Later, explained that dance, too, is a business and requires business-like behavior, while also stressing that emotion implied must be genuine to engage the audience.
“Hip-hop has crossed cultures since it contains so many elements—music, language, movement and thought,” he said. “Kids connect with it regardless of whether they live downtown or in the suburbs.”
Tickets via credit card are available by phone at the LBHS Box Office (949) 497-7769 or in person at the Box Office beginning December 6, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Box Office opens at 5:30 p.m. Reserved tickets $18, general admission $13 adults, $8 students/Seniors. www.lbusd.org.