“Navigate”: PDG’s Spring Concert

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This cover poster of the PDG spring concert “Navigate,” was created by members of the Bishop’s Art Club. A member of Art Club, Yi Tu (‘24), explained, “we wanted to show the theme of navigation while incorporating the movement of dance. We all had so much fun working on this.”

“Give a hug, accept a hug. Apologize. 

Forgive, especially yourself. Feel

your heartbeat. Take

another step.”

Dance and English teacher Ms. Crescence Birder (‘07) wrote this invitation in the director’s notes for the recent PDG concert, “Navigate.” From the beautiful, flowy costumes and radiant lighting that added dimension into every piece, watching this concert was like an escape from reality. Lila Hampers explained, “Everyone put a lot of work in, a lot of hours, and tech did an amazing job. We spent Saturdays here, but although it was labor intensive, it was a really great experience being with everyone.” 

The concert opened with the piece, “States of Being,” choreographed by Ms. Birder. Lila Hampers (‘24) explained, “It was a collection of all of our minds.” Ms. Birder said, “States of Being” was a collaborative piece based on a ‘15 part phrase’ choreographic process that I engaged with over the summer. Each dancer choreographed a 15 part phrase based on a positive, uplifting state of being (flowing, resilient, nourished, etc), and I wove them all together.” PDG took Ms. Birder’s list of words and created a rich and layered 10 minute piece. Lila noted, “It really showed everyone’s choreography skills, and I personally really loved it.” Ms. Birder explained, “I remember laughing a lot with the kids as we pieced those sections together. We had fun!”

A favorite of the concert was “Nature/Nurture,” performed and choreographed by Isadora Blatt (‘24) and Sanskar Lohchab (‘24). Ellen Wang (‘25) noted, “This duet deviated from the ‘usual’ type of dance seen in a PDG performance with its swag, jerks, and precision along with the catchy music. Even cooler was the fact that Isadora and Sanskar had choreographed the piece themselves, a great representation of the versatility and skill among PDG dancers.” Sabrina Li (‘24) agreed, and said, “My favorite piece in the concert was Nature/Nurture although they were all amazing.” “I absolutely loved Nature/nurture,” Lila laughed, “Sanskar and Isadora are two fantastic dancers with creative minds, and the way they were interacting with each other, it just kept getting better and better every time they performed.” 

Another memorable piece in the concert was “Imagination,” choreographed by Emily Zhou (‘23) and performed by Emily, Ellen, and Andrew Perkins (‘24). Andrew explained that this was his favorite piece to perform in for multiple reasons. He said, “I enjoyed performing in Imagination because of the synergy between me, Emily, and Ellen. The majority of the dance is in unison, and I loved the buildup to Ellen’s front walkover lift, which was super cool! The opening formation was another highlight for me, as we all start with different forms of imagination until we ultimately come together in unison.” Ellen agreed, saying although it was a short piece, it was clean, simple, and breathtaking. The piece was a breath of fresh air, like an epiphany, in the midst of the upbeat dances that preceded it….Whenever I performed this piece, I not only felt at peace within myself, but also felt a greater connection to Emily and Andrew with each performance, something special only dance has offered me.” Lila explained how this was definitely her favorite piece in the concert, “It was just breathtaking.” 

While many pieces in the concert had beautiful stories behind them, the most poignant ones were inspired by Ms. Donna Cory, a beloved dance teacher who passed away earlier this year. “Flora and the Flamingo,” performed by Mira Singh (‘25) and Sabrina Li (‘24) was based on a picture book that Ms. Cory gifted to Ms. Birder. Mira explained, “Ms. Cory decided to give Ms. Birder a book with no words because there were no words to describe how much she missed her and loved being with her.” Amidst the playful nature of the choreography and the colorful costumes and lighting, “this piece was very meaningful,” Sabrina said. Mira explained how Ms. Birder gave them each a copy of the book, and from there, “the three of [them] looked at each image on every page and crafted choreography, doing our best to match the story being told.” Mira concluded, “ I truly could not be more happy with how the piece turned out, and it was an absolute blast getting to perform it alongside Sabrina, while also honoring Ms. Cory at the same time.”

“Flora and the Flamingo ” wasn’t the only piece that had a special meaning behind it, the piece “Slow moon” did too. This piece was initially choreographed by Ms. Birder for the 2019-2020 PDG concert, but they were never able to perform it because the pandemic hit and the school closed just days before their concert. Ms. Birder explained how it was created in response to a short poem by Akazome Emon for the concert “Word Play.” She had been holding onto this piece for years, and she explained how this year felt like the right moment to bring it back. 

“We all felt a sense of pride and care as we learned that we were going to perform the amazing piece in dedication to them,” Ellen explained. Mira explained, “When learning this choreography, we actually watched a video of the 2019-2020 PDG performing in the dance studio wearing the same dresses we wore in Navigate…You could see Ms. Cory sitting in the corner where she always sat — she absolutely loved the piece.” Ms. Birder also reflected back to what this piece meant to her and Ms. Cory, and said, “It is sweet and sad at the same time.  She knew and loved “Slow Moon”, so it feels incredibly meaningful to me that I was able to share it with this year’s PDG and the wider Bishop’s community.” The lighting, costumes, and choreography were stunning, but the history behind this piece is what makes it truly special. 

Mira mentioned, “The feeling that we all got while performing this piece, even if it was the 20th time we were doing it, was so incredibly special. It felt as though we were honoring Ms. Cory and communicating that, even though she is physically no longer with us, the impact that she had on us as dancers and as people still shines through. You could feel her presence in that piece, and it never dwindled.” Ellen explained, “For me, this piece was not only a sign of appreciation of all the great dancers in PDG before me, but also a reminder of the remembrance and gratefulness I will always have for Ms. Cory. As I performed my solo portion on stage and noticed the glowing red lamp in the booth, I would be reminded of fond memories from the past.”

This concert was filled with pieces of all different genres, from high energy pieces to pieces that evoked tears. Senior Eliana Birnbaum-Nahl reflected back on her years in PDG, and said, “I’ve loved being in PDG and it’s been one of the best parts of my highschool experience. Obviously, this is not the year that I expected or wanted, but I think that we had a very solid concert that Ms. Cory would’ve been proud of.” Ms. Birder concluded, “I am so proud of the kids for their resilience, energy, and overall amazing performance. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with such incredible artists.”