Students at Churchville-Chili Senior High School recently had the opportunity to experience a live performance by PUSH Physical Theatre and participate in dance workshops with artistic director Darren Stevenson.
The Rochester-based theater company came to the school’s Performing Arts Center stage with the message of “You Can Do Anything,” using physical storytelling, expressive movement and acrobatics to make that point for student dancers and non-dancers alike.
The performance was attended by the school’s dance students, but was open to those with other interests as well. Business teacher and IB coordinator Kelley Fahy said it was beneficial for students in her career management class, as it hit on concepts they are studying.
“Synergy, taking responsibility and getting out of your comfort zone are all habits of highly effective teens,” she said. “The kids appreciated the look at a different career option and the process the dancers took to get to where they are now.”
Physical education teacher Paul Glor said it was “a nice chance for students to see fitness components like muscle strength, endurance and flexibility in action. PUSH demonstrated that if something is important to you, go after it with passion.”
Churchville-Chili dance instructor Janelle Hernandez, who helped arrange the visit, opened her studio to Stevenson for a series of workshops. He introduced her dancers to exercises that encouraged them to improvise using their own life experiences, and to explore the mechanics and emotional power of movement.
“I really liked the PUSH movement class,” student Daniela Miner said. “It made me move in different ways and put me outside of my comfort zone. Their performance was really inspiring.”
“It was great learning experience,” dancer Grace Hunt said. “I loved learning new ways to express emotions through my movement and choreography.”
“I loved his encouraging message and being exposed to a different kind of dance,” student Erin Kuhn said.
Stevenson said he enjoys working with young people. He credits his own love for dance and physical theater to artists who visited his school when he was growing up. Without that opportunity and encouragement, he said his life might be very different now.
“I am glad that my dance students were able to have this unique experience that took them out of their comfort zone — in a great way,” Hernandez said. “I am looking forward to working with Darren and PUSH again in the future.”