By Eden ’25
Harvard-Westlake is known for having a reputation of being an academically grueling and competitive school that teaches their students to strive for excellence and produce perfection. That reputation often makes applicants intimidated by the school. Let me quell your anxiety by telling you that among the many challenging classes that Harvard-Westlake has to offer, there are a series of classes that can completely calm your nerves, help students feel comfortable in their own skin, and let you completely be yourself and create. These classes are any of the dance classes offered at the school.
The head of the dance department and one of the many amazing dance teachers is Mr. Schenck. There are four levels of dance classes that you can enter into based on your dance experience or desired difficulty level. They are called Introduction to Dance, Contemporary Dance Workshop I, Contemporary Dance Workshop II, and Dance Production. Introduction to Dance is a very basic and beginner level class. It studies a variety of styles of dance including jazz, ballet, hip hop, and more. Contemporary Dance Workshop I is the next level up and a continuation of Intro to Dance, but with more difficult material and more advanced combos to learn. Contemporary Dance Workshop II is more difficult than the previous classes and focuses more on choreography. Finally, Dance Production is the most difficult class as well as the biggest time commitment because it includes after school practices and performances. This class focuses very heavily on choreography and creating pieces to be performed on stage. All of these classes include learning dances in class as well as learning the history of different styles of dance. Occasionally, guest teachers will come in from around the world and teach us dances from their country which give the students a more international perspective on dance. The dance classes all have at least one performance a year to show off what they have learned. Intro to Dance has their performance in the dance studio with parents and friends watching during the school day. However, the other three classes have more formal performances after school on stage for whomever would like to attend.
Although the knowledge that you learn in this class is enough to make you have a deep appreciation for dance and the class, the thing that drew me into this class the most was the environment. The teachers in the class are incredibly skilled and have so much knowledge that they are eager to share. Their excitement and dedication to the class practically radiates off of them to the students and makes the class so fun. There is always such a high energy in the class and such a desire to learn and dance that makes the class so nice for everyone. It is also such a kind, welcoming, and accepting environment. The teachers and students make it such a safe environment to be creative and be yourself with no judgement. Overall, it is an incredible class where you can learn so much and have so much fun in such a positive environment and I think it is one of the best classes that Harvard-Westlake has to offer.