Just ten short years ago, Elissa Harbuck (aka Miss Elissa) – Mount Vernon Dance Program’s Creative Director and Dance Instructor – choreographed and directed her first dance recital at MVPS. Since then, her dance classes, support team – including Dance Program Manager Elizabeth Jones, stage sets and audiences have grown tremendously.

This past weekend, over 150 dancers ranging in age from 2 to 15 graced the stage in 17 different numbers to showcase their progress over the course of the year. Performers incorporating ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical dance and hip hop took the audience back through the years reliving several dance favorites.

Highlights from the show:

  • Girls in third through sixth grade wielded flashing lights to open the show with a jazz production of “Time Machine.”
  • Mini Dorothys, tin girls, scarecrows and cowardly lions skipped to music from “The Wiz” (2008).
  • First graders shimmied and cartwheeled to “The Hamster Dance” (2012).
  • A talented group of Lower School boys brought their breakdancing skills and smooth moves to the stage in “Smooth Criminal”.
  • Preschool hip-hoppers moved to the rhythm of the beat in “Purple People Eater” (2011) and “Playground” (2010).
  • Three lyrical dances were new crowd favorites this year, gracefully expressed by Kindergarten through grade 4 dancers, as well as eighth grader Lauren Barton and tenth grader Jordan Engle who performed a lyrical “Dream” duet.
  • This year, the Middle School Praise Dance Team, led by grade 6 teacher La’Tasha Mines, performed in their recital debut.
  • Other popular replays were the littlest dancers who tapped to “ABC” (2009) and “Good Ship Lollipop” (2010).
  • Without missing a beat, during “Greased Lightnin’,”second graders slid over and around onstage cars.
  • Ballet classics such as “Swan Lake” (2008) and “Part of your World” (2010) reappeared for an encore performance as well.
  • Toward the end of the show, three year olds offered comic relief in “Be A Clown” (2009).

One of the biggest hits and surprises of the evening was during the grand finale of “Footloose”, when Head of Upper School Tyler Thigpen burst onto the stage making a special guest appearance (dancing!) as Kevin Bacon. Bringing the evening to a close, he twirled his daughter River around, then nailed his final pose.

Amid a confetti shower, all dancers returned to the stage for their curtain call.

Many parent volunteers as well as faculty and staff gave of their talents, time and energy to help make the show a success.

Tony Giardino, Dad to a little Dorothy, designed, created and installed the set, which included a replica of the Glenn Campus clock tower.

Ashley Giardino, Mom to the same little Dorothy along with Adrienne Jacobsen, Mom to a little scarecrow and a greaser, worked tirelessly to embellish/organize costumes and maintain the backstage excitement.

Teri Cloud, Mom to a little dreamer, designed and created the program and pitched in to help organize the night.

Student dancers, Katie Jones and Jordan Engle, assisted Miss Elissa throughout the process. Jordan says of her experience, “The first recital I danced in was the 6th annual recital. Something neat about being the oldest most experienced dancer is getting to help and mentor the younger kids that want to continue on with dance.”

Congratulations to all of the performers and countless volunteers who did a lot of heavy-lifting to ensure the success of the 10th Annual Dance Recital.

Photos by Betsy Armstrong.

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