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Columbia High Dance Co. Thrives in Annual Show

The performance over the weekend featured student-choreographed routines.

Last year's dance company poses after a show. Janet Hicks founded the company in 1971. Contributed photo.
Last year's dance company poses after a show. Janet Hicks founded the company in 1971. Contributed photo.
After intense auditions, tireless work on choreography and commitment to learning a vast array of dances, the Special Dance Co. of Columbia High School dazzled audiences with its annual performance.

The event, which took place Friday and Saturday, showcases the talents of the dancers by allowing them choreograph their own routines with the help of the teachings of the dance class, which is modeled after a college-level class.

"This class develops the whole dancer artistically, physically and enhances critical thinking," said Special Dance instructor and artistic director, Kandice Point-Du-Jour. "Students learn the elements of choreography and learn how to manipulate movement. In class we discuss, critique and reflect. It’s similar to writing a paper and revising it over time."

Performers have gone on to become dance instructors, perform on cruise lines and former student Daisy Hobbs is currently performing in "Aladdin" on Broadway.

The Company's biggest performance is its annual show in May, but students perform year-round at places such as NJ Performing Arts Center, Two River Theater, Essex County Metro West Dance Festival, Teen Arts Festival, National High School Dance Festival and NJ High School Dance Festival. The class also participates in field trips and master classes.

Participants in the class said that the class serves as a place for bonding and grants them skills that can be used for a lifetime.

"Out of all the activities my parents had me try it was the only one that truly stuck and resonated with me. At first, it was definitely intimidating. The dancers in the company are all so extraordinarily talented," Captain Brett Ascher said. "However, Special Dance has given me experiences and opportunities that no other company ever possibly could. We are such a tight-knit group, so in addition to technique and choreography skills, I have gained a second family."

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