Dancing through History

After preparing for weeks, students perform the Generation Day dances for an audience of peers


Sofia Hennessey-Correa

Dance senior Lindsey Ryerson, theatre senior Mary Keith, and dance senior Alexis Carter do jazzercise moves to the song “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa in the senior generation dance.

By Aidan Smith, Dreyfoos School of the Arts

Denim, spandex, nylon, and neon erupted onto the bleachers as SGA co-presidents communications senior Kate Wagner and strings senior Sofia Plaza welcomed students in the gym to Generation Day activities. In the moments to come, students would take the floor of the gym, each trying their hardest to win for their grade.

SGA co-president and communications senior Kate Wagner prompts the junior class to yell back their graduation year. (Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

Generation Day has been a Spirit Week tradition since at least 2014, with students schoolwide dressing up in accordance with their grade’s theme: freshmen as the 1950s (frequently portraying characters from “Grease”), sophomores as the 1960s (often wearing outfits that fall between the ‘50s and the ‘70s), juniors as the 1970s (generally sporting “hippie” attire), and the seniors as the 1980s (the majority of which wearing spandex and neon, reminiscent of aerobics workouts of the time).

Wearing a neon teal leotard, blue tights, and metallic pink shorts, vocal senior Mackenzie Seibel mimics jazzercise moves in the seniors’ ‘80s generation dance.
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

This year, Generation Day fell on Tuesday, March 14, the third day of Spirit Week, giving students more time to plan their outfits.

“Originally, I thought the whole costume thing was stupid because I thought nobody would do it,” band freshman Benjamin Aarons said. “But as I kind of saw more, I thought that I might as well, so today I decided to dress up for the ‘50s.”

Pointing towards the audience theatre freshmen Hayden Gartner and Zepplyn Berry participate in the freshman class’ generation dance inspired by the ‘50s.
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

However, while the outfits were a major part of the celebration, the dances were the largest part of the show, taking up almost the entirety of the extended lunch.

The dances, choreographed and performed entirely by students, incorporated both songs and dance moves inspired by the decade each grade was portraying. Choreographers of the dances generally strived to use popular, familiar songs for the audience’s enjoyment.

“I wanted to put songs that the audience would know, especially ‘Y.M.C.A.’ The entire crowd could also interact with us while we dance,” generation dance co-choreographer and dance junior Anna Sofia Machado said. “Some people even just cheer for the song, not even for the dance.”

For weeks before the dances took place, the choreographers and dancers met regularly to learn and practice the moves for when it was time for the big day. All four dances were highly influenced by their genres: the freshmen playing “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley, the sophomores playing “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5, the juniors playing “Staying Alive” by Bee Gees, and the seniors playing “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls. Each dance was over three minutes long, with multiple songs and “complicated” formations that spanned the entirety of the gym floor.

Pretending to eat a cake during “Killer Queen” by Queen, the juniors reflect the ‘70s through their generation dance.
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

“We rehearsed once a week, … and it came together really well, especially with the playlist and everything,”  said dance sophomore Emma Elder, who performed in the sophomore generations dance.

Grooving along to ‘60s music, dance sophomores Macall Bernard and Francesca Wisniew finish their routine with some dance moves from the ‘60s.
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

For the freshmen class, however, they didn’t have much of an idea of what Spirit Week would be, leading to both confusion and excitement about dressing up and the dances.

“I thought it was good. It was new for me because I’m a freshman, and I don’t really have a lot of experience going to these dances or any of these events for Spirit Week.” Aarons said.

While all grades performed their dances, SGA announced the juniors as the winners at the event, with the seniors earning second, the sophomores earning third, and the freshmen earning fourth.

Band junior Nathan Goldin applauds after SGA names the junior class as the winner of the generation dances.
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

“I’m ecstatic,” Machado said about her class’ win. “Last year there were only eight people in the dance, and we were fourth place. Then so many more people joined. I think we had 35 people in our dance this year, and we came out in first.”

This story was originally published on The Muse on March 16, 2023.