Upper School Dance

Advanced Dance 

Film Fest 2021  

This year, Head-Royce dancers are exploring new ways to create, collaborate, and perform, expanding our perception of where dance can exist and how dance can take shape. Students take creative risks by discovering new spaces that inspire movement and by learning how digital media can enhance their choreography. Through two projects, Site Specific Dance and Dance Films - Perspectives, students have created work that takes us on reflective journeys, remark on social and political stances, and lead us into dreamlike states. Our goals this year are to strengthen the power and language of dance and use the art form to elevate our voices.

Each film is accompanied by the choreographer’s artist statement, sharing the intentions and process of their creation. Thank you for reading, viewing, and supporting our dance artists. Enjoy!

– US Dance Teacher Katie Kruger 

Maya H. '23


My overall intention of this project was to show my love of books and reading through a dance where I went to different locations based on the genre of the books I was showing. I had just read a really good book around the time this project was assigned and so it was on the front of my mind. I looked up several genres that I could do and a late night stroke of inspiration caught me for one of my locations. I had remembered hearing that in San Francisco, there was a rainbow crosswalk and one of the genres I was considering doing was LGBTQ+ representation, so I found the sidewalk and my ideas went on from there. I think three words that I want my audience to take away from this piece are joy, pride, and grace. This work is different from my past pieces because I went to different locations and I filmed them in multiple takes instead of just doing one all the way through. I think this one also tells more of a story and shows my passion more than past pieces I have done. I think my choices in location (my bedroom, the rainbow crosswalk, and the Palace of Fine Arts) all supported my goals for the piece very well because for the I had all the books I wanted to show in my bedroom, the rainbow crosswalk had a direct connection to the LGBTQ+ representation in the books I chose to show there and the Palace of Fine Arts is an old building aligning with the classic books I represented there. I think filming in multiple takes was very helpful because I could move in different ways in accordance to my mom who was filming, I could be closer or further away, coming towards her or heading the opposite direction. I think my movement shows my passion for dance as well for reading.


Mari M. '22


For my dance film project, I chose to do a piece that reflected my daily routine to symbolize my life in isolation during these strange times. I wanted the audience to really feel as if they were in my life which led me to use many moving shots and an overall homemade movie aesthetic. Throughout and after watching my film I want my audience to notice the underlying themes of confinement, similarity, and repetition. This piece differs from many of my past pieces because I normally only film from one perspective, and also lots of my other dances are much slower and stylized. When it came to the location I knew right off the bat that I would be filming in my house and specifically my room, however, I debated with the idea of filming outside and after a lot of consideration I felt like that wouldn’t be an accurate representation of my daily routine because I rarely go out. I chose to do lots of moving shots which meant my father had to follow as I was dancing which proved to be a lot harder than expected. Not only did I not realize how small some parts of my house were, but it also didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t be able to mess up as often. Even though these perspectives were fairly difficult to create, I think they really add to the idea of someone experiencing my routine with me, which was my goal. Another aspect of the film that is very different from other pieces of mine is the editing. Normally I never edit my dances, but for this film, I knew I wanted to add extra details to help enhance the dancing and really make it feel like a film. Using different filters, stencils, and other editing techniques allowed for the dance to be seen as more of a film and movie. Overall I had a really fun time expressing myself throughout the process of making this project, and I am very happy with the outcome. 


Kaylyn B. '21


I choreographed this piece as a way to process the police brutality that goes on in our country way too often. My goal was to try to put myself in that position, understanding the present feelings, actions, but also all the underlying feelings that the person would not be able to express for fear of their life. Even through choreography and trying to envision a moment like that, I found myself all at once wanting to be small/slow/careful, and wanting to run/break free/be in any other place. My inspiration for this piece, would be, I guess, this entire year. It was also inspired by me often feeling helpless to the pain that runs through my community as a result of the systems built to oppress us. By choosing a topic that I wanted to work through myself, I was more committed to the dance and in carving out time to work on it as it helped me process. I think in that way it is very different from my past pieces, because those never had a mental health benefit for me. I decided to dress in all black and go to my local park in the day to choreograph the majority of the piece. All black on top of my skin is meant to hone in the message of this color is the only reason this dance is happening at all. In the end, I change to a white shirt, in hopes to convey that once a Black person is killed by a police officer, their death and a large part of their legacy is that they were killed by a White cop, and that will never leave them. I also decided to film the end in my backyard when it’s darker to convey that as the sun sets so does this person's life, but they are still out in the cold, likely wishing they were home. 


Blair M. ’23

2020 was a challenging year. From the pandemic to quarantine there was a lot of uncertainty and change. I wanted to acknowledge the good parts of the year and sum them up through dance. The intention of my video is to follow a strange sound coming from a tree and to be transported to different parts of 2020. I was inspired by watching film videos and seeing how they are able to use the camera to show different aspects of movement that you are unable to see from the front. Aside from using the camera to show all aspects of my movement, this piece differs from my past dances because it was filmed in multiple places, the movement had a deeper meaning and inspiration behind it, and it took longer to film and edit. Each location integrates a positive memory of 2020. The first scene filmed outside by trees represents the long walks and runs that I went on during quarantine. The next location is a tunnel. It represents confinement at home and constantly being surrounded by walls, while still being able to see the way out and having hope for the future. The following recording was on stairs. There were a lot of ups and downs in 2020 and the steps are a representation of that. The following scene, filmed through a rectangle in a wall, references my site-specific dance and because the scene is short it represents how fast the year seemed to go. The final location was in front of a lake where you can see the flowing water. It represents how I was able to flow through the year even with the challenges. After watching my film, I hope the audience takes away three feelings: peace, curiosity, and happiness.

Isabel R. ’21

Without directly telling the audience an exact story, the overall intention of my work was to give the audience a sense of a story arc, where at the end, they were left wondering what it meant to them. This way, it is up for their own interpretation. Additionally, I aimed to mimic some of my backgrounds slightly; however, once I began choreographing it, I didn't end up doing this as much as I anticipate. My grandparents' house is a calming and serene place for me, which inspired me to utilize this specific site for my dance film. Specifically, I was inspired by the mountains, vineyard, trees, cement road, and trellis that hold up the vines. The three words that describe what I expect the audience to take away from my work are: tranquil, puzzling, repetition. This work differs from my past pieces in several ways. First, it involves a change in sites, which I haven't done in the past. Second, when editing it, I combined several frames of the same movements to zoom in and out. Lastly, it involves more repetition than my past pieces have included. My choices in location and movement kind of went hand in hand, as I originally built my movement off of my location. In my piece, when I was at the first site, my movements were more rigid to represent the straight lines of the trellises. At the second site, the movements were looser to represent the winding road and the tree branches around me. I think my music choice supports my goals because it meshes well with the site and emphasizes the repetition in the movement because it is repetitive, just like the music. 

Abby E. ’22


My intention for this piece is to depict my life through dance. I started dancing at age two, learning simple movements and basic techniques. As I got older, my dancing technique progressively got more difficult and strict as well as the dress code. My inspiration for this piece was a Youtube video I saw a few years ago that followed a dancer at NYU Tisch through a day in her life. I thought it would be cool to take this idea, but make it my whole life. Three words to describe my piece are technique, fluid, and gentle. This work differs from my last piece, because it adds transitions with changes to each scene rather than one consistent frame. My choices in location are fitting because my garage is where I've been dancing and taking classes for the past few months. My films include transitions that show my different dress codes and dance moves as I “grow up.” My goal for this piece is to show the difference between levels of my dance life.

Anni R. ’22


The theme of my dance film is dreaming, so my goal while creating it was to establish a serene-like vibe. Part of creating that environment was finding locations that felt majestic and beautiful; most of those places ended up being in nature. In addition to location, I used both changes in filming and movement to support my goal for this piece. I ended up switching between using an Iphone and an older camera that made the film grainer. The difference in quality added to the nostalgic feeling of my dance, which is often present in dreams. I also tried to use a mix of small and big movements to illustrate the plot lines of my dreams, which often switch from calm scenes to exciting scenes within a moment. The inspiration for my dance film was a type of tik tok I often see where people romanticize their life and film their days in artistic ways. These tik toks remind me of dreams, and I wanted to recreate the feeling that they inspire in my piece. My final product differs from my previous projects, because there are many aspects (such as new locations, filming, and editing tools) that I utilized while creating my film, rather than just choreography. Three words that I expect the audience to take away from my dance are nostalgia, excitement, and peace, and I hope this dance inspires these emotions in everyone who watches it. 




Caroline S. ’22

I want this piece to reflect my (continuing) time in quarantine. I used different locations and vibes of the choreography to work my intention into my piece.  The first bit reflected the first 2-4 weeks in March and April: when everyone was happy to do school from home and that we could have more time to ourselves, so I choreographed it as a little more playful and fun - in my bedroom. The second part reflects, for me, May. This was a hard month for me because I was really starting to realize how long this was going to last, and I was starting to feel trapped. To show this, I filmed in a doorway; a big enough space for me to move but still having the feeling of being trapped. The third part of my piece reflects the time directly after that, continuing into this summer. Without the confinement of online school every day, I gained a lot more freedom and time to go outside, hence why I filmed outside. I also felt I need to reflect upon the increase of activism in retaliation to the political tension in our country over the summer. So I filmed in front of a colorful mural of powerful women (many of whom are women of color) at the elementary school across the street from my house. Also, I wanted to make my movement a little more grounded and sure than the fun dancing in my bedroom and trapped movement in my doorway. Then, those feelings get blended together (through editing) to reflect how I’m feeling all three of those emotions right now: upbeat because I have been working on my mental health, trapped because school has started again, and grounded and mature because I have grown and learned a lot over the last 10 months. This differs from other work I have done because I put a lot more effort into this piece to form an actual story. I ended my piece with the same stance (I didn’t want to put too much emphasis on any particular stance, it just worked itself out while I was choreographing) and my last shot of that stance is outside. I originally wanted to end with me getting up and sitting down at my desk again (like at the beginning), but I decided to end more optimistically. With a vaccine on the rise and Head-Royce opening its doors to the Upper School again, I wanted to end with me outside to reflect the optimism I have of this getting better in the (somewhat) near future. 



Darby H. ’23


Through this work, I hope to show two of the many different sides that dancing can have, especially to the same song. I have taken inspiration from many duets that I have seen in the past that have featured partners who bounce choreography off of each other at certain points while being able to stay separate and maintain a cohesive image during other points. Three words that I might expect my audience to take away from my work are “duality of dance.” There are so many different ways that an artist can transform simple movement into outcomes that are so unique from one another. This work differs from my past pieces with the introduction of tap dancing and split-screening videos. My goal was originally to not move my camera at all so the transition could be as smooth as possible and although that did not end up happening, it was still pretty close to a similar location.



Gulzar A. ’22


My intention for my project was to show what a day in quarantine is like. I used a lot of repetitive phrases to show that quarantine is very monotonous, but I used calming music to convey that it can be relaxing to have a schedule that is unchanging. I filmed my dance outside so that I could use light to show the passage of time. My inspiration for this film was seeing the light change through my window during online school. I thought that light would be an interesting way to show time passing. I expect my audience to take away the feeling of monotony, calmness, and beauty of quarantine, even if it’s not the ideal situation. This work differs from my past pieces by being connected to a theme and having a story. 


Iyobosa E. ’23    


This piece differs from my previous pieces because it is not heavily contemporary based; it incorporates a different style of dance compared to what we usually would do in class. I wanted to do something more upbeat, but also with a style I am not highly familiar with. Because of that, I decided to tut. I have learned a tutting piece before, however, tutting is not my strongest skill. The inspiration for my choreography was extremely influenced by Michael Le, a dancer that I came across for tutting inspo. I took his basic tutting choreography, that will be linked below, and I used bits of tutting movements I have been exposed to with a mix of my own take on it to create this piece. The scenery came to me before I actually knew what the choreography was going to be. I wanted to create a circular flow between my phrases and really utilize various locations (e.g. outside vs. inside, balcony vs. ground, etc.). That’s what I really tried to hone in on with the angles and locations. Moreover, due to the flow of the dance, I think the audience will take away: repetition, tranquility, and stagnation. Overall, I really liked this piece because of the variation compared to other projects I have submitted.

Jena T. ’21


I created this piece, Run, to take my audience on a journey into my mind through a jog. This year I’ve been embarking on many walks and runs, and I was intrigued by the idea of how music acts as a  soundtrack to the surroundings and feelings of a moment. So I went on a hike with my brother, and when a song I liked came on my playlist, we stopped to film. I found this piece to be different from what I’ve done in the past because it was entirely spontaneous from song to choreography to location at the end. My intention is for my audience to feel comfort and resonance with this piece. From the first song on your playlist to your last, from your first step to your concluding stride, and from a jubilant excitement to that stillness, and the cleansing breath of air that feels more satisfying when you’re overlooking the world.




Phoebe F. ’22

My film was inspired by the idea of looking forward and hoping for positive things to come despite what you are going through. Everybody faces different trials and tribulations, especially right now, but I think that one way to unify as a community is to look hopefully forward to the future. Even through the toughest of times, the only way to continue moving forward and living is to take one step at a time. I also wanted to emulate the idea of living in the moment and taking the positive from every situation. I want my audience to take away the feeling of hope, positivity, and presence. I think that I put more thought into what each frame and cut of my film meant and composed compared to my past pieces. Hope you enjoy :)



Karina R. '21

My intention behind my work was to bring the song (Garden Song by Phoebe Bridgers) to life outdoors. I wanted to show a girl finding her way in the garden, being optimistic at first and then becoming a bit wary. It took me a while to land on an idea that I liked and that felt strong. I was thinking about doing work through windows but the song I chose and the movement weren’t coming across the way I hoped. I usually put music on to fall asleep, this song came up and it made sense. I expect the audience to listen, notice and enjoy. This work ties with my other pieces but stands on its own because I use different locations and camera angles to tell the story. I was very literal and filmed in my garden. I portrayed my intention with lighting (it’s sunny in the first clip) and the side versus front angles to show separation. 



Rory F ’22 

My intentions for this dance were to show how time and dance can heal and take a person out of the darkness/to a better place. I was inspired by the emotions that the singer expresses in the song. I got the idea for this dance when listening to this song and dancing to it, and I realized that as a day passed I was feeling happier and more inspired, so I wanted to express how dance can make you happier and energetic in sad times. I also wanted to express that no matter how you are feeling that is ok. Also, you can find happiness in yourself. This piece is a lot different than any of my other ones because I did not choreograph anything in advance. I had ideas of the themes but I just danced based on how I was feeling at that moment and accept the movement for what it is. 3 words I want my audience to take away are stillness, vibrant, and lightness. 



Sabrina K. ’23

My intentions for this project were to explore the place that I live through dance and to choreograph a simple, but  meaningful piece. My inspiration was my song choice because it portrays the beauty of living in the moment and enjoying the little things each day. This is a song that I have loved for years and the lyrics have become more meaningful as time goes on. I first heard the song at my summer camp when I was eleven and this song reminds me of camp. From this piece, I expect my audience to take away “simply living today”. This dance differs from past pieces because it was very simple yet meaningful and personal. In other pieces, I have picked a song first and done a more lyrical dance, but with this dance, I used more improvisation. My locations helped portray my goals because they were all places around my house and did not distract from the movement. 



Roxy H. ’22

I wanted to highlight the movement of shadows in my piece. I think that the shadows represent a sense of security, they will always be there, but they are often forgotten. When I was dancing around, my shadow caught my eye and I thought about how it is always there, but I never paid it any attention, so that thought inspired me to highlight it in my dance. I hope that the audience takes away a sense of calm, fluidity, and awareness to the small consistencies in their lives. I chose to use my backyard because it is very tranquil and there is a lot of room for me to dance. I chose to do three different times of the day: afternoon during a sunny time, sunset, and night time. I thought it was fun to experiment with shadows during different times of the day and tried to reflect the emotions of those times in the movements. I think this work differs from others because of the different angles, the use of shadows, and changing the times (and therefore backgrounds) of when I dance. 



Sofia A. ’22


Last time I filmed something for dance, I was really interested in this one spot in front of my house. Ever since then, I have found myself spending more time outside in front of my house, in this random spot. This got me to thinking about how although we are trapped in our homes, we are finding new places to spend our time within the radius of our bedrooms. In this piece I was exploring different parts of my house that I would have never filmed before. I also decided to show certain parts of my house/yard without any movement, to emphasize the exploration aspect of the film. In addition, I began dancing within my house and then ended outdoors, to signify growth throughout. What I want my audience to take from watching my film is a more positive view on isolation. 



Sophia J. ’23

With this dance project, I intended to use the space of both open and enclosed locations all that had a level of significance to me. For example, I chose to do my room as the first location since it is where I have spent a majority of my time and I have come to enjoy the closeness of it. I also chose the 4th location of my dance is my grandfather’s house’s backyard where I had been waving hello to him through the glass window that overlooks it every week to connect with him while staying socially distant as we patiently wait for the pandemic to be over. I had recently been unconfident about my dancing, it is something I only do for fun but it also can make me feel like I take up too much space or am clumsy due to my height. I put off filming my dances for a long time, but my mom helped me by offering to be my videographer. We did at least one location a day, and she especially helped me focus on not being a perfectionist about how I look when I dance and helped me limit the number of takes I filmed for each location. So I think my outlook on doing dance itself has changed during this project and helped me have more fun doing it. I hope my audience focuses on the difference between the locations and doesn’t judge me too bad while watching it. Overall, my choices in location helped me visit and enjoy some of my favorite spots around my house and around me which helped with the overall upbeat tempo of the song I chose as well.  

Sophia L. ’21

When we began this project, I was excited to see how I could bring the idea of my daily routine in Quarantine to life. I found the song “Lost in the World.” I love how the song has its own musical story that fits almost perfectly with the mood I wanted to create for my dance film. Although quarantine has seemed stretched on day after day, I wanted to highlight the parts of each day that are unique. At first, it was difficult for me to deal with the sadness of missing my senior year. After being at Head-Royce since Kindergarten, I was sad to have the journey end this way. However, I realized instead of dwelling, I should acknowledge the bright side of my situation. I am able to spend more time with my family and a few friends, I have considerably less homework, and I have lots more freedom (within the confines of my house). Once I started appreciating the things I did have, I found it easy to create my own senior year. It won’t be the same as in person school, but I can still make the most of this new opportunity. In a time where it is fairly easy to blur the days together, I maintain my happiness and optimism by approaching each day as its own. Not another of the same. 

Sydney H. ‘’23


I originally heard this song and it quickly became my favorite because the lyrics resonated with me and these past few months of my life. I tried to capture the emotional meaning behind and my own interpretation. My inspiration came from Rush and what the near past has been like. The three words (three-word phrase) I hope you can take away from my work would be coming back around. My explanation for this will come when I explain the choices I made. This work is different from my previous pieces because I think it’s more mature and has more of a story behind it. My overall goal was to represent how I felt in the past so I start inside of the house, which is where I spend most of my time and then I start to move outside and experience things I have missed out on since I was inside for so long. The ending represents how somehow you always end back to where you started, in my case. So when I chose the phrase, coming back around, it was because I returned right back to where I once was. Also, I tried making the ending in the same location but the angle’s different because it didn’t work out with the movement! Thank you :) 

Eesha M. '22


I wanted my piece to reflect the connection and happiness we have felt to nature during the pandemic. I remember I used to spend my afternoons taking walks in my neighborhood while listening to music after a long day on Zoom. I wanted this feeling of relief to show in my piece so I juxtaposed black and white scenes of dancing with vibrant shots of nature to show the brightness that nature brought to our life. I also wanted to emphasize the chaotic feelings of the pandemic, so I used abrupt cuts between angles to mimic this feeling. I also used constricted movements in the beginning and more free movement in the end to show the effect that nature has on the freeing of our mind and self. Through the pandemics we have taken a step back and reconnected with nature, and I wanted my piece to draw on that.