Dancing Virtually on the Hill


Photo courtesy of Kelly McCain

Students participate in the “Dancing Virtually on the Hill” event physically at Greenhill and through a Microsoft Teams call.

Kaylee Wilson and Emily Quinn

This year, Greenhill’s Dance Company is hosting “Dancing (Virtually) on the Hill,” a dance workshop with multiple guest teachers. It began on April 6 and spanned over the next four weeks.

Dancing on the Hill will be a series of classes taught by different guest teachers who specialize in different styles of dance. The classes are open to many different schools in the Dallas area, including The Episcopal School of Dallas, Parish Episcopal School, The Hockaday School, Trinity Valley School and John Paul II High School.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenhill dance students would attend a College Dance Day at Collin College in Plano, where they would take intensive dance classes with around 300 other high school students.

With the College Dance Day cancelled this year, Upper School Dance Instructor Kelly McCain and the Greenhill Dance Company planned Dancing Virtually on the Hill to give dance students throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex a chance to connect online through dance.

The classes coincide with Greenhill Dance regular class times, so the schools available at those times logged on to a Microsoft Teams call with Greenhill students to take part in the classes.

“This is really perfect for the kids that have been all year remote,” said McCain, who is planning the event. “So, instead of logging in with their teacher, which they’re used to, they get to log in with a guest. We’ve got a really wide variety of dance styles, which I like to do.”

Junior Aimee Stachowiak, who will be attending Dancing on the Hill, believes in the importance of connecting with others through dance.

“This is what I believe art and dance is all about,” said Stachowiak. “Creating and sharing your work to others, fostering a sentiment of belonging and understanding of one another.”

This will be the third year that the Greenhill Dance company has done Dancing on the Hill. In a normal year, students from schools throughout Dallas would come to the Greenhill campus, and use various performing spaces in the Marshall Family Performing Arts Center (MPAC) to attend the event.

Although Dancing on the Hill cannot be in person this year, McCain is looking at the positive possibilities its virtual alternative brings.

“Some other teachers aren’t in Dallas, so this opened up opportunities for people that can’t normally be here to teach,” McCain said.

Some teachers who took part in Dancing on the Hill include Jennifer Mabus teaching improv, Trevor Wright teaching musical theater, Cordell Weathersbee teaching jazz funk, Michelle Zada Hall teaching the Horton Technique, and Laura Pearson teaching contemporary dance.

Senior Alison Thieberg says she enjoyed working with the guest teachers.

“When you learn from the same person for a while, it is always nice to have someone new come in and shake things up,” she said.

McCain and the Dance Company who oversaw planning for the virtual event, thought the event would help build community digitally.

“It’s fun that you get to be on screen with a community of peer dancers you might not know,” McCain said.