ST. PETERSBURG — Gibbs High School was chosen by the Florida Dance Education Organization to host Beyond the Test 2016, an annual statewide dance performance assessment for middle and high school dance programs throughout the sunshine state, for three days last month.
Dance students and their parents from a portion of the 15 participating schools arrived at the Pinellas Cultural Center for the Arts on a Friday evening to have the opportunity to meet and interact with each other, to enjoy games, contest, snacks and make new friends.
Saturday was the big day as the Gibbs campus buzzed with activities as dance students arrived as early as 7:30 a.m. for breakfast. Each school had 30 minutes to gather their composure before the first of three rotating activities began.
The heavy rain was nothing more than a damp backdrop as the dance teams rotated through prepared performances, on demand performances and choreography assessments –each in a different location. One of the highlights of the assessment activities was the mini-performances in the Black Box Theatre. Each dance team had a chance to show off their best skills in front of four professional dance adjudicators.
The dance assessment consisted of a general dance routine that was sent out to all the participating schools and was practiced and performed in front of the judges. After each team performed what was rehearsed, a dance teacher, who was also one of the judges, would teach each group of dancers a different routine to assess their ability to learn, interpret and execute a new dance routine on the spot.
Activities for the first half of Saturday started winding down at 3 p.m. so the young performers could relax and have a dinner break. Tech rehearsals ran from 5:30-6:45 p.m. for the culminating evening event, the Florida Honors Dance Concert. Doricha Sales, faculty member of the Gibbs dance department, was in charge of Tech rehearsals.
The evening dance concert began promptly at 7 p.m. as parents and siblings packed the Gibbs Grand Theatre. Watching the concert was a testament to the quality of artistic young talent that continues to flow out Florida’s schools.
On Sunday, the last day of the dance assessment weekend, all of the students had an opportunity to participate in a mock college audition/panel discussion and master classes. Instructors for the master classes were Paula Nunez (ballet), Charlotte Johnson (Modern), John Parks (Jazz) and Kelly King (Contemporary).
Patricia Paige Parks, chair of the dance department, shared the news that the Pinellas County Center for the Arts dancers earned a “superior” rating across the board in their dance assessments.
Kudos to the Gibbs PCCA Dance Program for a job well done.