Rosa Parks Dancers One Step Away From Tri-State Championship
Saturday, May 26, 2012 • 9:43am
PATERSON, NJ – It’s been an exciting few months for the Rosa Parks High School Dance Ensemble.
It started with a trip to a Long Island recording studio where they taped three performances for MSG Varsity’s cable television talent show. Then came the Sunday night in April when their first dance was broadcast on television in the tri-state competition’s quarterfinals. They won that matchup, appeared on television again in the semifinals and won that as well.
Now comes the culmination of it all. On Sunday night at 8 pm, MGS Varsity will broadcast the Rosa Parks dancers’ will be performance in the finals of the talent show (a second showing will be at 8:30 pm). And then the online voting starts, through Thursday to determine who the champion will be.
The Paterson students will be facing the Chiefs dance team from Piscataway High School in Middlesex County, New Jersey.
The Rosa Parks High School Dance Ensemble is led by teacher Erin Pride, a teacher and Rosa Parks High graduate. Pride choreographs some dances and the students choreograph others. Some students from the ensemble don’t participate in dance, but design costumes or helped choreograph.
The dancers, costume designers and choreographers are: Kimanie Robinson, 15, grade 9; Azhane Harrison, 15, grade 9; Nicole Green, 15, grade 10; Kieara Franceis, 16, grade 10; DaJuan Harris, 14, grade 9; Zachary Downer, 15, grade 9; Kevin Hurtado, 18, grade 12; Kiyomy Alvarado, 17, grade 10; Thalia Mercado, 17, grade 12; Karla Ferreira, 16, grade 11; Ciara Martinez, 17, grade 12; Eboni Owens, 16, grade 11; Brenda Sadler, 15, grade 12; Amber Pinero, 15, grade 9; Hayzer Osairo, 17, grade 12; Azhane Fleming, 18, grade 12; and Ashley Walton, 18, grade 12.
All of the students agreed that dancing their way to the finalists was a positive experience. “We all became one,” said Kieara, excitedly, “as a big family!”
DaJuan, the youngest member of the ensemble, also felt the group is like a family. “Everybody looks out for each other. Everybody’s caring for each other.”
While the competition is a lot of fun for the students, it’s also hard work, of course. “All of us are new to being on television,” said Zachary. Traveling to Westbury, New York for filming had all the students getting up around 4:30 a.m. Not to mention rehearsing from 3 to 7 p.m. most nights.
Kevin is the oldest of the bunch, but doesn’t feel that being the oldest made his experience any different than what most kids would experience if they were in his situation. “Underclassmen always ask seniors [regarding advice],” he said.
One student had a particularly challenging moment when she had come out of a box doing a back walk-over. “It was scary,” said Kiyomy. She hopes she doesn’t have to ever do anything like that again!
Thalia didn’t think the ensemble would get as far as they did. As a senior, she feels, “awesome to be leaving my last year with a bang!”
Amber enjoyed the competition so much she said she “felt like a star on the set.” No stranger to dance competitions, Amber happens to have friends in other dance groups that didn’t make it as far as she did. “Going to finals proved other girls wrong,” she said.
Some of the students started pursing their dance interests early on. Kieara was only 3-years-old when her mom got her to start dancing. “She pushed me,” she said, but also credits her mom with inspiring her.
Amber considers her mom a “big stage mom” who got her into dancing at age 2. “She’d say ‘take more ballet classes,’” Amber said, adding, “But she’s cool.”
Karla began dancing at age 8 when her mom started taking her to dance lessons. Karla remembers crying because her legs hurt. “She pushed me [to take classes] and I quit,” she said. But Karla credited her mom for her decision to return to dance.
While most of the ensemble agreed that there weren’t any major problems that held them back, there was the issue of a stomach virus that was going around. “Everyone got it,” said Pride.
Another challenge was all the hours the ensemble had to put in. Kinoi had some minor conflicts with her boyfriend, who is in the drama class. She said, “He’d ask, ‘Do you have rehearsal tonight?’ and if I did, he wouldn’t talk to me all day.” But for the most part, her boyfriend was supportive, bringing her food every day during rehearsals.
Eboni felt that by going to the finals will show the rest of the tri-state area that Paterson isn’t such a bad town after all. “Everybody gives Paterson a bad name,” she said. “We made Paterson a better city.”
“One dance at a time!” concluded Pride.
For information on channels and voting procedures, go to: www.msgvarsitytalentshow.com.