Celebrate Dance showcases past, present and future talent

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Celebrate Dance showcases past, present and future talent in honor of RCC’s centennial

By Paola Palacios

Riverside City College dance program is participating in the school’s 100th year celebration by showcasing choreography pieces from past, present and future students.

Every spring semester the students of RCC’s dance program have a concert titled “Celebrate Dance” to show the audience and members of Riverside the inspiration behind their choreography.

Mark Haines, associate dance instructor, is the director and is also behind this year’s concept of past, present and future.

“We wanted to honor the centennial that is happening at the school,” Haines said. “It was an opportunity for us to think back on where we started, how we’ve grown and where we’re going to be in the future and so much of that is about the students.”

Being that it is the college’s 100th anniversary the dance program wanted this year’s Celebrate Dance to become one of the shows to remember. The faculty decided to bring back alumni to be a part of this year’s concept of past.

Haines had to choose out of hundreds of alumni who to invite back to dance onstage in the Landis Performing Arts Center here at RCC.

“I had to narrow it down to people who were doing company dance and who were doing concert style dance,” he said. “I wanted to align to what we are doing here in the dance program.”

Faculty chose alumni Ryan Beck, Roya Carreras, Heather Stockton, Kevin Lopez, Alicia Mullikin and Erica Jimenez-Villalpando.

The six alumni get a chance to dance on the Landis Performing Arts stage again.

“The faculty decided to try a new process this year, a process that is similar to that of other dance programs in universities across California,” Haines said.  “The panel of faculty choose which student choreographer’s piece reflects great on the school.”

Every fall semester the associate faculty at RCC allow students to submit proposals on what they want their choreography piece to be about. The faculty chose five out of nine applicants to represent the present this year.

The nine student choreographers began to work on their pieces over winter session giving them six weeks to begin their process. At the end of the winter session students had to audition their piece to a panel of faculty members and guest judges.

“It was hard choosing which choreographers to choose,” Haines said. “ I think that this year the process pushed them more as opposed to previous year’s where they only had to submit and not worry about there not being enough space.”

The student choreographers this year are Aisha Bardge, Michelle Armandarez, Desmond Davis, Michelle Nichols and duo Ariel Green-Hill and Rebekah Johnson.

For two of the student choreographers it will be their last Celebrate Dance before transferring.

“I want to treasure it that much more,” Michelle Nichols said. “Knowing it’s my last one I want to savor it, I want to it make it last as long as I can.”

This is also Michelle Armandarez’ last year with the program. She recounted her time with the program.

“I’ve done four Celebrates. I was a choreographer for three and I was student director last year,” Armendarez said.

They decided to have freshman Aisha Stewart perform a solo from her senior showcase for the future concept. She attended A.B. Miller High School Conservatory of Dance in Fontana which brings in many students to RCC’s dance program.

“When they told me, I was honored because I’m representing my old school and the conservatory,” Stewart said.

This year’s Celebrate Dance is a must see, as it incorporates work from previous students, and future students which is a first for the program. Take a visit through time as the dance program celebrates the school’s centennial celebration.

Celebrate Dance will be held at Landis Performing Arts Center here at RCC on May 5-7.


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