Spotlight on IASAS Dance Tryouts

dance iasas_shawna tanWriter: Yoomee S.

Visuals: Shawna T.

Editor: Lucas V.

Their eloquent choreography, intricate presentation, and graceful movements are few of the many reasons ISM’s official dance team, Dance Company, has continuously captivated the Bearcat Community. After many extraordinary performances, students, parents, and faculty alike are waiting enthusiastically for this year’s IASAS Cultural Convention preview. Aspiring IASAS dancers have begun preparing for one of the most anticipated dance events of the year. The IASAS Dance Auditions were held last week, marking an important milestone for aspiring dancers. Bamboo Telegraph interviewed Dance Co. Captain, Juria K., and highschool dance teacher/choreographer Ms. Yek Barlongay about the structure and atmosphere of IASAS dance tryouts.

Ms. Yek shared that the IASAS Dance Convention is not a competition “but an exchange, where each school shares their love for dance.” Held over the course of three days, eight dancers from each school present a 20-minute performance that differs in theme and artistic interpretation. Furthermore, dancers attend workshops led by professionals. 

Although schools are not ranked for their performance, the participants are “mentally competitive,” shared Juria, because they have “obviously put in a lot of time and effort” preparing for their performance. “Just because there aren’t rankings does not mean you shouldn’t put your 100% effort into it.” 

Although IASAS Dance auditions take place in November, active rehearsals commence in January. The structure of a dance audition is relatively simple: in the span of two hours, auditioners learn and perform new choreography, perform their own two-minute solos, and work in small groups to choreograph a dance according to a prompt. 

When asked about the group choreography component, Juria shared that “dance is more than kicking your legs high and turning a lot”. Ms. Yek nodded in agreement and shared that technique, although important, does not “make or break” the audition. She also wants to see the “creativity” in the solos, “how dancers interpret the dance,” and how they “execute their improv”. Depending on their performance, dancers will be given a percentage score in each category. 

As the dance teacher, Ms. Yek often finds it difficult to select the IASAS dancers because “if you get too close to the kids,” there may be some “subjectivity” involved in judging. To reduce such bias, she “surprised” the dancers this year and invited three of her colleagues “to critique the dance from an objective standpoint.” Because the judges have not previously seen the students dance, their input was “highly valued.” 

The presence of the judges made this year’s auditions even more “challenging” and “nerve-wracking,” reflects Juria. However, the feedback each judge provided was extremely “helpful” and turned the audition process into “a learning experience.” 

Ms. Yek was glad for the increased pressure in this year’s IASAS tryouts. She shared that she “wants the dancers to be nervous.” Returning IASAS dancers may sometimes be “too complacent” and confident that they will pass. As such, she wants her students to really “focus” in the audition and “commit” to it. 

The Bearcat Community commends the dancers for giving their all at auditions, and wishes those selected for IASAS the best of luck for this year’s CulCon!