Harker performing arts groups light up night at ‘Spirit of The Row’


Alena Suleiman

Downbeat members Alan Jiang (12) and Shareen Chahal (11) pose as they perform “Deck the Halls.” Upper school groups Harker Dance Company, Kinetic Krew and Downbeat as well as several middle school groups performed at Santana Row’s Spirit of the Row on Dec. 6.

Though the chill of the night intensifies, the crowd packed tightly around the small stage only continues to grow. Small ornaments and string lights strewn across the set highlight the massive tree in the center of the plaza. Four high school students, one snug in a thick mustard scarf and a violet button-up and three in glimmering a-line dresses, take to the stage amidst excited shushing and camera flashes. 

The emcees, seniors Sawyer Lai, Samvita Gautham, Lucy Feng and Kris Estrada of the Downbeat show group, introduce the second night of this year’s Spirit of the Row, a weekly celebration of performing arts and festive cheer on Tuesday evenings from 6-7 p.m. in Santana Row during the holiday season. The Dec. 6 show’s setlist included upper school groups Harker Dance Company, Kinetic Krew and Downbeat, as well as middle school groups Showstoppers, High Voltage, Dance Fusion and Harmonics. 

Harmonics kicked off the show with “You Make Every Day Feel Like It’s Christmas,” and Showstoppers and High Voltage followed with “No Ordinary” and “Christmas with Friends,” respectively. 

“I’m really proud of how far the team has come,” Showstopper member Claire Tian (8) said. “It’s nerve-wracking [performing in front of a crowd] for the first few times, but [now] I don’t even think about who’s watching. I’m just having a good time.”

Downbeat then performed “Deck the Halls,” starting with four members singing serenely but quickly turning into a funky flash mob as the rest of the group burst onto the stage. Downbeat member Ian Ogden (11), who performed for the first time at Santana Row this year, enjoyed Downbeat’s unique arrangement of the song.

“I really like our version of ‘Deck the Halls’,” Ian said. “We start out with four people and trick everyone into thinking it’s a traditional song. Then, our ensemble comes up from [in] the audience, and we surprise everyone.” 

Harker Dance Company then took over with an upbeat routine to “Girls.” Every holiday season, they also perform a kickline, with this year’s set to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The girls wore their usual sequined green outfits, adding Santa hats and switching to jazz shoes for the second dance. Harker Dance Company member Yasmin Sudarsanam (10) reflects on the team-building environment of their performance.

“My favorite moment from that night was right before our performances,” Yasmin said. “The team was touching up our hair, makeup and costumes and hyping each other up for the upcoming dances, because it felt like an amazing bonding moment between the fourteen of us and our coaches.”

However, the 20-foot wide stage did pose some problems, especially considering the larger space used for rehearsals and practice. 

“It was really exciting, but the stage was really small,” Harker Dance Company member Emily Kwan (11) said. “But still, we managed to make it work because we trust each other on the team. It was really fun to perform.”

Spirit of the Row performances also allow members of the Harker community who are not in the performing arts to appreciate the talents of their peers. SAB (Student Activities Board) member Sara Wan (12) explained her reason for attending the ceremony.

“In the past four years, I’ve never come before [to ‘Spirit of The Row’] and I really wanted to support the Harker performing arts community, especially Downbeat, Kinetic Krew and Harker Dance Company,” Sara said.

Bright lights, small stage and chaotic energy aside, Yasmin appreciated the tradition of performing at Santana Row during the holiday season.

“[Performing at Spirit of] The Row is exhilarating,” Yasmin said. “It’s one of those performances everyone looks forward to the entire year. Watching and cheering for [Dance Fusion and Showstoppers] is also a full circle moment for me. I remember looking up to the older girls so much when I was younger.”