Perpich News

Perpich Arts High School Dance Program Presents “Sense of Self, Sense of Belonging” – May, 2024

May 13, 2024

From all corners of the state, the dancers of the Perpich Arts High School Dance Program presented “Sense of Self, Sense of Belonging” on May 9 & 10, 2024. The spring concert was the culmination of a semester of work. The dancers demonstrated their creativity, choreographic skills, and performance expertise in dozens of student choreographed works, a faculty work, and two guest works. The works ranged in style, musical choice, and intention. The title, ”Sense of Self, Sense of Belonging”, refers to the growth of the students as individuals and as an ensemble. The dances ranged from dynamic to fluid, from formal to fun, with a range of intensities. Congratulations to all involved with the show!

“Sense of Self, Sense of Belonging”
Centering, Reaching, Connecting

Choreography by the Perpich Arts High School students, and guest artists, Mathew Janczewski and Penelope Freeh

  • Nine dancers from nine Minnesota communities
  • Twenty-three student choreographed dances
  • Two guest artists
  • A million ideas of inspiration
  • One community
  • Two priceless evenings

Alma Soave (Dance 2025) said, “I’ve never been more proud. Our nine person group has vastly improved since our December show. We’ve all grown closer, learned from one another, as well as learned things about ourselves! Our spring show inspired me for my senior year; more great work is to come.”

In the show program, Mary Harding, Dance Instructor, said, “How did we make this evening of dances? As we move through the school year, the dance focus becomes both more internal and more broad. Students worked on what we termed ‘low stakes’ curriculum as they explored movement prompts that changed daily. They studied different choreographers’ styles. They learned more about their own movement preferences and how it connected to their physicality, their training, and their aesthetic preferences. In these ways, students created work that was both a deeper sense of self, and as they worked in group dances, a deeper sense of belonging. Welcome to our sense of place – the dance studio, the stage, our dancing bodies. Welcome to our sense of self and belonging.”

Choreographer Penelope Freeh is a two-time McKnight Artist Fellow and a SAGE Awardee for Outstanding Performer. She has been commissioned by James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, Gem City Ballet, Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Walker Art Center/Southern Theater’s Momentum, and Russia’s Link Vostok Dance Festival, among others. She frequently works with opera and musical theater groups including Skylark Opera, Nautilus Music Theater, and Mu Performing Arts. She has created several works with composer Jocelyn Hagen, including Test Pilot, a chamber dance opera about the Wright Brothers and the birth of aviation, which will tour MN this fall. Penelope danced with James Sewell Ballet for seventeen years, serving as Artistic Associate from 2007 to 2011. She teaches at the University of Minnesota, the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, TU Dance, and Zenon. Ms. Freeh has previously danced in Minnesota Opera productions of AidaRomeo and Juliet, and Nixon in China.

Mathew Janczewski is the Founder and Artistic Director of ARENA DANCES. ARENA serves as the vehicle for his body of work and provides young, aging, and underserved segments of the Twin Cities community with opportunities to experience the transformative power of dance. With over 35 works in his repertoire and more than two decades of experience as a choreographer, Mathew has cultivated a highly diverse and mesmerizing style of movement. Increasingly, his performances explore pressing social issues, providing a platform for dialogue and action.

Dance Instructor – Mary Harding
Lighting Designer & Sound Board Operator – Ellie Simonett
Guest Choreographers – Penelope Freeh, Mathew Janczewski