Berkeley High School has a vibrant dance program, offering students the opportunity to study West African Dance and dances of the African Diaspora with Naomi Diouf Washington, as well as Modern Dance technique and choreography with Linda Carr.
With a student body of over 3,000 at Berkeley High School, we have about 400 dancers each year. Dance is celebrated by the school community; we fill our theaters five times each year with supportive audiences for our shows. We make a point of reaching out to the Berkeley elementary schools, who bring students to our school time performances. Many kids in Berkeley grow up coming to our dance concerts with their families each year.
The diversity of the student body at BHS is reflected in the diversity of student choreography in our shows. At our concerts, you are likely to see dances from Latin America, the Middle East and Nepal alongside Hip Hop, Jazz, Modern, African and Praise Dance. In an environment that embraces and stimulates creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving, dancers are able to design their own choreography and set and perform their works for peers and community. Many dancers choose to take both African and Modern classes during their time at BHS.
The African Dance program enables young students to learn about West African culture. Just as important, within the dance classes, they are able to create a sense of community often obsolete in their everyday life, to grow personally and socially, attaining a creative outlet for expression, and establishing a lifelong interest in dance and the arts. The outcome is social development. These students go on to perform with Diamano Coura and other professional companies.
The Modern Dance classes are geared towards building technical skill while at the same time building choreographic skill. Even in the Beginning Modern classes, dancers will choreograph pieces (with increasing complexity!) throughout the year. Our classes are collaborative, emphasizing creative process, artistic support and exploration.