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Behind the scenes: Harker’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

Varsity Girls Dance, compiled of students from all different grades, split into two groups and practiced for their Tree Lighting performance. They’ve been practicing for almost a month.

Zoe Sanders

Varsity Girls Dance, compiled of students from all different grades, split into two groups and practiced for their Tree Lighting performance. They’ve been practicing for almost a month.

by Zoe Sanders, Reporter

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Eleven faces display wide smiles before the first beat of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” even hits. As soon as the song begins, the dancers fall into their splits and start pirouetting. Upper school dance teacher Karl Kuehn watches and critiques while videotaping their routine from the back of the room.

Junior Varsity Dance, Varsity Dance, Kinetic Crew and Downbeat are in the process of final preparations and rehearsals for the Tree Lighting Ceremony in Santana Row. What the audience sees is only a one part of the many arrangements that need to be made in order for this event to happen.

Junior Varsity (JV) Dance instructor and upper school dance teacher Rachelle Haun’s team started practicing for the upcoming event the second week of October. JV Dance will perform to a Pentatonix acapella version of the Disney classic, “Let it Go.”

From finding the outfits to organizing the performance pieces and props, costumes are a large part of the preparation process. Considering this event extends out of just the Harker community, performers at the Tree Lighting Ceremony are faced with an entirely different audience.

“My girls get to be up there on that stage and dance for a huge, huge audience,” Haun said. “It’s really good exposure for the dancers to be in front of a crowd and for them to see the other professional dancers that are there.”

Liana Wang (12), one of the varsity dance captains, has performed in the annual Tree Lighting since middle school.

Every year it’s a little bit different based on the crowd and who is performing, but it’s [always] that same energetic vibe,” Liana said.

Varsity dance kicks in their routine at the Santana Row Tree Lighting Ceremony on Tuesday. Multiple dance groups ranging from the Lower School to the Upper School participated in this annual performance last year.

Along with these girls dance teams, the all-boys group Kinetic Krew, is also performing at the event, with choreography mainly focused around breakdancing.

“After being in the dance program for many years, I feel the boys dance program has developed a lot in breakdancing this past year,” Kinetic Krew member Christopher Gong (11) said. “I believe this routine highlights that aspect more than any of my previous routines have.”

Consisting of four sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses, Downbeat members work on their songs both during their practices and at home for the tree lighting ceremony as well.

“The singers have to memorize everything outside of class,” Downbeat director Jennifer Sandusky said. “Then, we do the perfecting of the movements and music during class after they are memorized.”

These performances will take place during the pre-show entertainment, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in the Santana Row outdoor shopping mall.

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The student news site of The Harker School.
Behind the scenes: Harker’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony