June 18, 2024 Your Source for Brentwood News

Santa Monica College Dance Department Hosts High School Students for Immersive “Dance Day” Experience

Students from Hamilton High School and Beverly Hills High School Learn College-Level Dance Techniques and Discover Advancement Opportunities at SMC

Santa Monica College (SMC) Department of Dance welcomed around 70 students from Hamilton High School (HHS) and Beverly Hills High School (BHHS) on May 10 for an immersive “Dance Day” experience. The event aimed to provide high school students with a glimpse of college-level dance classes and familiarize them with dance education opportunities at SMC.

This marked the first in-person Dance Day experience offered by the Dance Department since the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, SMC hosted students from Culver City High School and New West Charter School. Santa Monica High School students have also participated in previous Dance Day events.

The Hamilton and Beverly Hills HS students participated in classes taught by SMC dance professors in the sunlit dance studios of SMC’s Core Performance Center, located on the main campus at 1900 Pico Blvd. The classes offered a diverse range of dance styles, including ballet, contemporary dance, hip-hop, flamenco, and Indonesian/Tahitian dance. Additionally, SMC students from the Global Motion World Dance Company and Synapse Contemporary Dance Theater performed for high school students.

Mark Tomasic, Chair of the SMC Dance Department, emphasized the department’s outreach efforts, which begin as early as second grade. The college has student interns who teach creative dance to children at SMASH Elementary School and offers dance instruction to fourth and fifth graders in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District through the SMC Dance Academy. Dance Day serves as another touchpoint in guiding students toward the college’s dance program.

For Edden Mizrahi, an 11th-grade student at BHHS and a member of the BHHS Dance Company, the Dance Day experience was eye-opening. Mizrahi described dancing as “literally therapy” and appreciated the opportunity to witness different styles and meet diverse people during the event.

Bradyn Prisand, a 10th grader at BHHS and also a member of the BHHS Dance Company, has been dancing since she was two years old. Prisand expressed that dance allows her to express herself freely and relieve stress. She found Dance Day to be a glimpse into college life and valued the chance to learn from different teachers and explore various dance styles. The Tahitian and Indonesian dance class was a particular highlight for Prisand, offering her a new and exciting experience.

Latrece Douglas, a dance teacher at Hamilton High School, expressed excitement for her students, as it was their first time on SMC’s campus. She emphasized the value of the experience in showing students their potential for dancing at the college level and building connections with their peers.

Dana Findley, who teaches dance at BHHS and serves as the artistic director of the school’s dance company, brought her students, along with some eighth graders from Beverly Vista Middle School, to SMC. Findley appreciated SMC’s diverse range of dance styles, stating that it showcased the universal language of dance and exposed students to the world around them.

SMC offers an Associate’s Degree in Dance, preparing students for BFA and BA transfers, as well as dance-related careers. The department also provides a Commercial Dance Certificate of Achievement, catering to students seeking employment in the commercial dance industry. SMC’s dance program includes outreach programming for the SMMUSD, teaching World Dance and Jazz/Musical Theater dance to fourth and fifth graders, and creative dance to second graders at SMASH Elementary.

The Dance Department at SMC focuses on nurturing versatile dance artists through rigorous technical training in contemporary modern, ballet, commercial, and world dance forms. Students also have performance opportunities, engage in theoretical study, and explore their creativity. SMC’s dance program stands out as a unique gem among two-year training programs. In the Spring of 2017, SMC unveiled the new Core Performance Center, a state-of-the-art facility with four spacious sunlit studios dedicated to the Dance Department. 

The dance program also features a relationship with the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, where SMC students perform in four full-length dance performances per year and have the opportunity to study with BroadStage guest artists. See smc.edu/dance for more information.

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