SMMUSD Arts Coordinator Tom Whaley has submitted a video to the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., nominating Samo for the prestigious Schools of Excellence in Arts Education Award.
Under the direction of Nate Hodges, the dance program has grown immensely in the last three years, according to Whaley. Junior Meghan Aguilar has experienced these improvements firsthand.
“Last year in the Dance Club we had six people, and now we have 30,” she said. “It also used to be just a hip-hop based group and now we’ve expanded to having a whole other day devoted to contemporary dance. It’s very diverse.”
According to Whaley, the most recent dance showcase in Barnum Hall attracted a large audience.
“There is a lot of buzz about dance,” Whaley said.
In the past, because dance was a part of the P.E. department, the focus was on fitness. Now, dance instructor and choreographer Hodges, who also heads his own independent dance company—Rhetoracle— teaches his students the fundamentals of jazz, modern, and ballet he employs in his company.
Additionally, the Jazz section of the music program, also featured in the video, has grown in the last four years. There are now two jazz ensemble groups and a jazz combo. The jazz combo and top jazz band took first place at the Berklee College of Music’s High School Jazz Festival in both of the top divisions.
Highlights of the video include footage from “Rent,” last year’s musical, and Motus Perpetuus, the choir’s annual winter program. The video was submitted to the JFK Center for the Performing Arts on March 1.