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Back Bay dance troupes ready for showtime — in person

Corona del Mar High School's Orchesis Dance Company seniors dance.
Corona del Mar High School’s Orchesis Dance Company seniors, clockwise from bottom, Allie Antoyan, Samantha Brewster, Madison Lobel and Tasha Karam, strike a pose. The Orchesis Dance Company is preparing for its first live show, from May 19 through 21, at UC Irvine’s Barclay Theatre.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The new school year started on Zoom for the Corona del Mar High School Orchesis Dance Company due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This made learning new routines, well, a bit problematic.

Allie Antoyan, one of two senior “presidents” — essentially team captains — of CdM Orchesis, smiles when she thinks about those times.

“It’s way harder because you can’t do formations,” Antoyan said. “The computer is like lagging, so everyone was doing it at different times. And people were dancing in their kitchens, which was weird.”

CdM’s dance team, 21 members strong, pushed through.

The Sea Kings are now preparing for their yearly show, which will be held Wednesday through May 21 at the Barclay Theatre on the UC Irvine campus. Tickets are available through UCI.

The show’s theme is “Ready for Takeoff,” and will feature a travel theme among the 18 different dances presented.

Across the bay, the Newport Harbor Dance Team is even closer to showtime. The Sailors will present their annual “ArreiS” show on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Davidson Field on campus. Tickets are $10 and available at the door.

CdM’s group of seniors — Antoyan, fellow president Samantha Brewster, vice president Tasha Karam and Madison Lobel — is certainly ready to go. Each of the four girls has been in CdM Orchesis for four years, and they were eager for that time to culminate in something special.

Most of the dance numbers are choreographed by the students, CdM Orchesis coach Shawni Jackson said.

CdM Orchesis, founded in 1962 and one of the school’s longest-standing organizations, got to practice in small groups once the Newport-Mesa School District returned to in-person learning in January. The girls then finally came together as a full group again.

Corona del Mar High School's Orchesis Dance Company seniors.
Corona del Mar High School’s Orchesis Dance Company seniors, from left, Samantha Brewster, Allie Antoyan, Tasha Karam and Madison Lobel pose for a portrait on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“It was challenging, but they were able to find ways to come to practice and make it work,” Jackson said. “The fact that we’re getting to have a show is huge.”

Jackson, a CdM Orchesis alumna herself (class of 1993), is proud that the tradition will continue. Last year, CdM’s annual show happened during the first week of March — just before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and students were sent home.

The girls have practiced four to five hours a day for months in hope of a show this year. Jackson said the team got the good news that the show was on about three weeks ago.

Brewster said the team members are very lucky.

“I think we’ve all appreciated the practices a lot more, at least I have,” she said. “It’s such a blessing that we get to be here and dance.”

The stage at the Barclay Theatre is about double the size of CdM’s on-campus theater, Jackson said, which should help with social distancing. The number of spectators will be limited to a fraction of Barclay Theatre’s 750-seat capacity, but that ability to perform is what is most important.

“It was super-unknown if we’d have a show, and finally we got it,” Antoyan said. “It’s more meaningful, in a way.”

Newport Harbor's "ArreiS" dance program runs Friday and Saturday night.
(Courtesy of Jamie Tanzer)

Newport Harbor’s dance team, meanwhile, will hold a show outside for the first time in its 22-year history, director Jamie Tanzer said. Last year’s “ArrieS” performance was canceled due to the pandemic.

“We wanted more members of the community to be able to see our show,” Tanzer said, adding that the team has been practicing on handball courts outside.

Tanzer’s Sailors are excited for this year’s program, which will feature a variety of styles such as jazz, tap, contemporary and hip-hop. Senior Presley Green, the daughter of former Major League Baseball player Shawn Green, is the team captain.

Newport Harbor’s other seniors include Alexa Albrecht, Naomi Davis, Karsen Doyel, Maddy Hopkins, Christiana Marcopulos, Grace O’Brien, Carley Palmer, Payton Post, Sofia Rans, Ava Rosten and Owyn Stefano.

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