Tonight, Booker T. Washington High School dance students will perform with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra during the Christmas Pops concerts. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports that the students are getting an early look at what it’s like to be a professional:
KERA Radio story:
Tuesday after school, a group of eight Booker T. Washington High School students practice a tap routine to a backing piano track. But tonight, they’ll take the Meyerson Symphony Center stage with a full orchestra and chorus performing behind them.
It’s an experience that many professional dancers no longer get.
Lily Weiss is the head of the dance program at the school.
WEISS: “Even the top ballet companies are scaling back in terms of the orchestras, the size of the orchestras, going down to an ensemble. So for our dancers to be able to perform with not only a live symphony but a chorus as well, that’s a moment in time that they will never forget.”
Broadway legend Marvin Hamlisch, who is the DSO’s new Principal Pops conductor, will lead the performance. He personally picked the dancers during a trip to Dallas in August. The students described the process as all business – not unlike what they will experience when they head out for their own professional auditions.
But senior Evelyn Roberts says the training she’s received at Booker T. has prepared her to work with the pros.
ROBERTS: “This is the closest, or one of the closest experiences, to a professional job that I think a lot of us have had. So there’s a bit more pressure to perform well, especially since Marvin Hamlisch is a big deal and this is a big deal. But I think especially coming from our school, we try to be professional all the time. So I think Booker T. has really prepared us for it.”
Booker T. Washington graduate Misty Owens choreographed the routine, which the students will perform tonight through Saturday.