Let There Be Light

Introduction of the Luminaries Dance Team

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Photo by Rachana Kommineni

Concentrating hard on getting her Acarte perfect, freshman Alison Cooper prepares for her eight ballet body positions assessment. The team spent two class periods learning each of the dances and then learned and memorized the names so that they could do well on their test. “I love performing because I am able to make the audience happy, and it’s just a lot of fun when you perform because it is an automatic smile for me because most people are always having to force a smile,” Cooper said. “Yes, it hurts once you stop performing and you can stop smiling and your cheeks start burning, but it is just natural because I am so happy when I am out on the stage and the lights are on me.”

Rachana Kommineni, Reporter

The lights shine brightly in the gym, greeted by the sound of music as the girls learn a new dance routine. The word “Inspire” shines on the wall behind them, making all their efforts worth it. Dance team director Nikki Evans created the Luminaries, a newly developed performance team, within the last year. Luminaries is the performance team on campus and focuses on community performances. They are still a part of the dance program, as they perform at some football games with the Celebrities and do their own performances.

Evans said that she wants Luminaries to be the face of the CPHS dance community.

“Celebs is very competitive and more geared toward the drill team, and we just wanted to provide an opportunity for artists and other dancers on campus to perform and be a part of more genres than just what the drill team has to offer sometimes,” Evans said.

The Luminaries is geared towards getting the art of dance out in the community to help expose younger kids to dance in order to expand their options in high school. Evans is still in the process of figuring out the differences between the Celebrities and the Luminaries through trial and error. Evans said she wants there to be a home for every dancer, so the Luminaries fits perfectly for people who don’t want to put too much time commitment or who don’t want to compete, but still want to be a part of the team.

“They are more focused on performing, and less about competing,” Evans said. “It is less time commitment and financial commitment, but still under the umbrella of CPHS dance. I want to find a niche for each type of performer and dancer, providing a place for each one of them, that isn’t limited to just the dance and drill team, which is the Celebrities.”

According to Evans, the Luminaries are also different from Celebrities because she wants them to also be able to dance with choir and be part of theater productions. Evans started last spring in middle school, talking to eighth graders about what their options are in high school. Evans said that she feels that the whole point of coming into high school is to have an idea of what you want to try.

“We were finding that they wanted to be Celebrities, and they were on this track where they thought that being on the Emeralds (when it was a team) was a stepping stone to Celebrities,” Evans said. “When they didn’t make it into the Celebrities, they wanted to quit dance, and didn’t want to stay in the Emeralds. This made me want to have a different outlet for them to where they would still be a part of the dance team and not be discouraged.”

Recruiting for Luminaries will happen from eighth and eleventh grade, but all high schoolers 9th-12th grade are applicable to join. It’s a year-long commitment, and this year is the building year. This time, there will be separate auditions. Celebrities will audition in the fall for the following school year, and the Luminaries will audition in spring. By the end of the school year, Evans wants the first real team. Announcements will be held at the end of this semester, and will give out information about different clinics and the google classroom will have all the audition information, and there will be a parent informational meeting prior to auditions.

“There is no perfect time especially in the middle of COVID to make this adjustment,” Evans said. “I am currently pushing auditions to give the current Luminaries more time to be together on a team for a year, before new people join.”

Evans said that over the course of the five years that she was here, she has seen a lot of great dancers and performers, and some of them decided to make a shift to a completely different art form because they felt like they were limited. Since Celebrities wasn’t a performance team, Evans wanted to shift gears to a more community outreach approach.

“They felt that they had to just be a Celebrity or in a dance 1 class, with no in between,” Evans said. “That’s why it’s important to create a group on campus that doesn’t think completely different from Celebrities.”
She said she wants to retain dancers that want to do things other than what the Celebrities do. There are other dance forms and opportunities that the Celebrities aren’t taking part of.

“We want a community, a group of dancers, here on campus, that could be that face of CPHS, and show the varieties of styles of performance and techniques,” Evans said.

Dancing for about 10 years now, freshman Alison Cooper said she wanted to join the Luminaries, as it is a great way for her to learn new tactics, but still be able to perform and eventually audition for Celebrities, since freshmen aren’t allowed on the team.

“I love performing because I am able to express my thoughts and feelings through ways that other people may not be able to,” Cooper said. “Although, learning the steps and getting to act out along with the dance is my most favorite part.”

With a passion for dance, sophomore Brooklyn Grant joined the Luminaries because it was a new opportunity to do something that she normally does outside of school, but inside of school instead. She said that she is looking forward to building relationships with the girls she’s not super close with.
“It’s a totally different perspective than the drill team is, which makes it all the more intriguing,” Grant said. “It lets people know that you don’t just have to do the kicks and the tricks but you can do other things as well. You don’t need to perform at football games if it’s not your thing and it gives opportunities to freshmen too.”
Aspiring actress Freshman Cameron Johnson heard that as a Luminaire, she could do theater as well as dance, without them overlapping. She said that it combined both her passions for theater and dance, since some the Luminaries intend to participate in both, and plans on continuing it instead of the Celebrities. If theater needed dancers, the Luminaries would be the people helping out, and it gives people who love to dance and want to be a part of a team, an opportunity to have time for extra curricular activities as well.
“If you love doing other electives, this definitely has a lot more time and you don’t need super high kicks,” Johnson said. “It’s not double blocked and gives more time before and after school for other activities, which is very convenient for me since I’m in theater, which requires after school rehearsals.”
Sophomore Phoebe Solberg feels that sophomore year is the hardest year in high school, and wishes to do Celebrities next year, but due to time commitment, chose to join the Luminaries.
“I hope to gain good experiences with my teammates and leadership skills and improve my dancing skills,” Solberg said. “It’s super fun, and it’s something you can get involved with and it won’t take up too much from your schedule.”