Compchorea began in 1981, and Miss Bo took it on when she began teaching at Williams in 1987. Originating as a chance for choreographers and composers to work in tandem and create original pieces performed simultaneously, the program has since become more of a dance concert with original choreography interspersed with original musical compositions. Over the years, the program has grown substantially, both in terms of number of participants and the level of creativity, variety, and sophistication exhibited. “I restructured the way I taught my middle school classes a few years ago,” Bo explained. “In addition to technique, we also focus on composition and choreography and the process of making dances happen, and I think that that’s helped.”
Students began preparing for Compchorea in September, with the student choreographers and composers responsible for scheduling rehearsals, deciding on costumes, and then receiving feedback and auditioning the pieces. If accepted, students then begin spending most of their weekends in January and February, and a lot of time after school, rehearsing and preparing for the performances, which take place at the end of February or early March.
Morgan Pill '20 has been participating in Compchorea for three years, having begun dance lessons at age 2. "I love the people involved in it," she shared. "There's a really nice sense of community, and we all have a lot of fun while putting on the show." In addition to dancing in multiple pieces, Morgan also choreographed Another Day of Sun in collaboration with Kat Petrosky '20. "We all bounce ideas off each other and pull from choreography we see online or from Miss Bo's classes, so there's a lot of inspiration sparking all the time."
Chloe DeLima '20 has also been participating in Compchorea for 3 years, joining the production with no prior dance experience but several years of circus training, which she credits her understanding of movement to. "I really just went for it, and Miss Bo accepted me," Chloe explained. "I love being a part of Compchorea because it's an amazing experience to put on a whole show together and we've become such a family."
Samson Dorfman ’19 has been dancing his whole life and this was his third and final year performing in Compchorea, as a choreographer, dancer, composer, and musician. “I like that the opportunity is available to perform anything you create,” he reflected. “Personally, I really like creating both music and dance, and it’s great that the school allows you to pursue that and then also perform it in front of a sizable audience. The play and the musical are great, but the fact that you can bring your own work there is really special.”
One of the highlights this year was Little Giants at Dusk, which was originally choreographed by the internationally renowned Michael Foley. Bo was invited to perform with him this past summer at Bates Dance Festival and received permission from him to re-stage the piece for Williams. “They had to act in that piece, to learn the emotional content behind what they were doing, and had an opportunity to rise to a new level of. It was a theatrical dance, multi-layered in terms of emotion and expression and content and technical difficulty, so it was more like watching a play,” Bo reflected. “Keri (Doherty ’20) took on choreographer Michael Foley’s role and really captured the essence and the outline of it.”
“That dance has inspired Bo and I to try something new next year,” Theater Director Jane Martineau added. “Within our classes, there will be a simultaneous week where we trade off and Bo will teach movement for actors and I’ll teach acting for dancers.”
Jane also acts as the Technical Director for Compchorea, with her crew running lighting and sound from behind the scenes. “The students really own it, and it’s a humongous learning experience. Others have dance teams or dance clubs, but there’s no other high school that puts on a fully realized, student driven performance like this in this region.”