On November 11 and 12, the Concord Academy Dance Project presented Dark Before Dawn, directed and choreographed by dance program co-directors Rika Okamoto and Alexander Brady. The contemporary dance presentation powerfully explored movement, music, and self-expression.
The electrifying ensemble included Christine Cevallos-Lozano ’25, Maureen Coffey ’24, Hannah Crozier ’25, Irene Jiang ’24, Ava Angele Khabbaz ’25, Jake Klineman ’25, Julia Milan ’24, and Anja Westra ’24. The dancers delivered a dynamic array of dance styles, both angular and organic, to an eclectic mix of music ranging from tango to Beyoncé.
Dark Before Dawn explored the tension between identity and anonymity. The dancers carried suitcases and donned identical costumes, including black business suits and masks resembling bird beaks. Okamoto and Brady note that the masks represent the idea of hiding one’s true self: “We wanted to use masks at the beginning of the dance as if pretending to fit into a society or behaving well in an aristocratic society, hiding the different human emotions going on underneath.”
Dancers performed in-sync group choreography, but also broke away for sweeping solo performances with their unique rhythm and rhyme. Jake Klineman ’25 delivered a tap solo and monologue about the power of personhood. They pondered aloud, “Can one really dance correctly? Dance is self-expression, and self-expression can never fully be ‘correct.’ We are always hiding part of ourselves. I hide my tap shoes and my dance from others … of all the things I could possibly hide, why do I hide my tap shoes?”
Okamoto and Brady, who collaborated with the students on the choreography for the performances, say that most gratifying was seeing the students “gaining confidence and growing their individual voices and artistry.” Each dancer held the spotlight, showcasing their own story and style of dance.