Senior Choreography


The Las Vegas Academy Dance department will be ready to open the PAC theater doors to showcase the annual Senior Choreography show on March 17 and 18 at 7:00 pm.

  The possibility to be selected as a senior choreographer is an opportunity dance majors look forward to since their freshman year. They must audition with a concept and a portion of their number to teach it to a selected class that will perform the dance at the show.

  Unless someone was a senior choreographer, one does not typically know what the role as a senior choreographer entails. Although it may sound like fun and games, the role can be a bit challenging. Three selected seniors, Ashley Schoemer, Zia Mancuso and Caroline Payne are working as a labor of love, and each has experienced this process differently.

  Two of the chosen seniors are Ashley Schoemer and  Zia Mancuso; they have the opportunity to work as a team to choreograph a class of 48 which is larger than the usual amount of students in a dance class. Both Ashley and Zia agree that working as a pair creates a great support system for one another. Zia said that they “focus on different things in [their] dance,” so it creates a good balance. Likewise, Ashley said having a partner keeps her grounded, and if she “didn’t have Zia, [she] would just go crazy.”

  To create a theme for their piece, Ashley said they “found [their] inspiration kind of sporadically.” She recalled the moment they were sitting in the middle of a dance studio and just started spewing out ideas and “googling random motifs and finally ended up with [their] concept.”  Once they found a general theme, they started working on the choreography and decided to go off the idea of drowning and surviving. Zia said that to ensure they properly portrayed the idea of drowning and surviving in their piece, they googled survivor stories and found one about a castaway man that was lost at sea and was tempted to eat his deceased crewmate. Zia admitted that their research and concept are a bit morbid, but they wanted to create an eerie dance number.   

  Although Ashley and Zia create a support system for one another, they both have discovered struggles that accompany the process. Ashley said that that the biggest struggle of being a choreographer is “[her] outward thinking process.” She explained that is hard to be creative without forcing it or randomly piecing things together. Zia found it difficult to teach her peers; she called it a “new learning experience” to be the teacher for once. Even with the struggles, they have found the beauty in the process.

  On the contrary, Caroline Payne found it difficult to be teaching the class because she is in the class herself, she said she wants to be tough on them but “not so much that they’ll end up hating [her] for the rest of the year.”

  Ashley and Zia said they are happy with what  they have created so far; Zia said their progress has “made [her] very proud because it turned out better than [she’d] imagined.”

  From this experience, both can give advice to underclassmen who want to be a senior choreographer. Zia advises that one should “always keep an open mind” because your thought process changes all the time. Ashley said that one should “stay original” because authenticity is important.

  Overall, both Ashley and Zia have learned valuable lessons from being senior choreographers that they can apply to the rest of their lives. Ashley said she is easily annoyed so, “the most valuable lesson” of this experience is patience. Zia said that this process has helped give her confidence in her art and creativity. Caroline added her self-discovery of insecurities and that she shouldn’t let “self-consciousness or insecurities hold [her] back from doing what [she] wants to do,” no matter how mundane or monumental a project may be.