Perpich News

Perpich Arts High School Dance Program Moves Audience with “Sense of Place” – December, 2023

December 12, 2023

From all corners of the state, the dancers of the Perpich Arts High School Dance Program moved their audiences with “Sense of Place”. The fall concert was the culmination of a semester of work. The dancers demonstrated their creativity, choreographic skills, and performance expertise in 22 student choreographed works, and one guest work. The works ranged in style, musical choice, and intention. The title, ”Sense of Place”, refers to both the nine hometowns of the dancers and the sense of place the dancers find in the dance studio. The dancers created work that illuminates many places in their lives. The dances ranged from haunting to harsh, from dynamic to fluid, from formal to fun.

Sense of Place
At home in our space and in ourselves

Choreography by the students and guest artists: Darrius Strong

  • Nine dancers from all corners of the state
  • Twenty-two student choreographed dances
  • One guest artist
  • A million ideas of inspiration
  • One community
  • Two priceless evenings

After the performance, the dancers shared the following thoughts:

  • “After the show, I was able to reflect on how grateful I am to be able to work with such talented performers and be in such a wonderful show. It was a lovely experience to be able to step into the choreography of my peers and perform in so many diverse pieces.” – Estelle Bolier (Dance 2024)
  • “I thought that it was a very unique experience and overall really fun and exciting. I can’t wait to watch the recording of all the hard work that everyone put into the show.” – Ella Gorter (Dance 2025)
  • “We both really enjoyed our first dance concert at Perpich! Everyone here is very supportive and kind to each other! We are glad to hear that our duet left an emotional impact on the audience members!” – Tiahna Garcia (Dance 2024) & Sam Ek (Dance 2025)

In the show program, Mary Harding, Dance Instructor, said, “How did we make this evening of dances? We write with our bodies, sing silently with our spirits and paint the space with energy. We create myriad worlds with movement, gesture, sound, lights and a few t-shirts from Target. We explore and change the space where we dance; at the same time, we explore and change the place of dance- our physical bodies. We measure the weightedness or lightness, the size and the scale, the delicacy and the strength of our movements to create different worlds for you to view and experience.”

Rebecca Bullen, Perpich Arts High School Principal, said, “Our dancers opened ‘Sense of Place’ this week and left us all in a state of awe. Their passion and movement of physical space is inspiring. They are a force, so present and connected, and their hard work in bringing 22 pieces to us is phenomenal. Their care for each other and ability to transform time and space with their bodies left me holding my heart and so proud. Led by their teacher, Mary Harding, they created a space that embraces process and practice while recognizing access, privilege, hard work, and appreciation for community. What a gift!”

Darrius Strong is a highly accomplished choreographer, dancer, and educator based in the Twin Cities. His creative work has garnered recognition and been featured in prestigious venues such as the Walker Art Centers, Choreographers Evening, and Rhythmically Speaking. As the founder and artistic director of STRONGmovement and the director of the Hip Hop program at Eleve Performing Arts Center, Strong continues to push boundaries and inspire others through his innovative approach to movement. Notable highlights of Strong’s career include being featured in the 2015 New Griots Festival and an American Standard Billboard advertisement in NYC’s Times Square in 2016. In 2017, he received the Momentum New Works recipient award, acknowledging his outstanding contributions to the field. Strong has also served as the Movement Director for esteemed theater organizations such as Guthrie Theater and Ten Thousand Things Theater, lending his expertise and artistic vision to enhance stage performances. His choreographic talents have been sought after by renowned dance companies including Threads Dance Project, Flying Foot Forum, Alternative Motion Projects, TU Dance, and James Sewell Ballet, where he has created captivating works. Additionally, Strong has dedicated the past seven years to bringing Hip Hop knowledge and technique to Anoka Middle School for the Arts, making a significant impact on the next generation of dancers. Beyond the realm of dance, Strong has made his mark as a movement director for musicians as well. He has collaborated with notable bands such as Noneabove and has provided movement direction for various cover bands performing at prestigious galas. Recognized for his artistic excellence, Strong is a recipient of the 2019 Jerome Hill Fellowship and the 2022 Choreographer McKnight Fellowship, solidifying his position as a trailblazer in the dance community.

Dance Instructor – Mary Harding
Lighting Designer & Sound Board Operator – Ellie Simonett
Guest Choreographer – Darrius Strong