Duck on the move: from El Sereno Middle School to St. Mary’s Academy

Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre at El Sereno Middle School

Image by Sean Deckert

On March 2nd, we wrapped up our fourth year of the Duck Truck Residency Program at El Sereno Middle School with a final performance by Ms. Burnett’s 6th grade English class and our own company dancers.

Roughly 150 parents, students, and staff came to the final performance—a new record for our shows at El Sereno! While warming up before the show, our student performers said the large audience was making them nervous, but the nerves seemed to fade away once they began their group phrase. As they started their slow-motion race and choreography, the audience sat engrossed in the sustained action. Four different groups performed their original pieces to much applause, and finally, HDDT company members performed an excerpt of ‘At the Oasis’ for the rapt audience.

The end of a Duck Truck Residency is always bittersweet—while we love to see the students perform their original choreography for their family and friends, we hate to say goodbye! Lucky for us, the staff at El Sereno and Principal Joyce Dara agree that our consistent DuckEd programming is positively affecting the students, and we are looking to continue working with them through another residency next year, as well as offering free admission to upcoming performances and volunteer opportunities! We can’t wait to keep deepening our relationship with El Sereno Middle School and giving more students a chance to explore their creativity through dance!

We asked some of the El Sereno participants how they felt after the show:

My favorite part of this program was being able to be myself and create my own dances. Meeting all these fun teachers. Just everything!

I felt very excited about it, I think being able to have an opportunity to create our own dance was phenomenal. It was so fun to create a dance. I will never forget it.

Making up our own dances made me really happy because we got to show our creative side and a bunch of people saw it.

My favorite part of the program was the teachers, they were so motivational, nice, and caring.

The Duck Truck is far from done with its work for the year though; right after the El Sereno performance, it traveled across town to St. Mary’s Academy in Inglewood! This is HDDT’s first time at the all-girls private school, but the mix of students from their PE and acting classes quickly warmed up to teaching artists Toogie Barcelo and Ryan Walker Page. Much like our classes at El Sereno, this residency focuses on slowing down our movement to really engage with the environment, our own bodies, and each other. The students have already started working on their original choreography, and will perform on April 12th!

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