Call it a backstage pass of sorts. Preseason is that time in late August when the School’s new and returning student performers gather and collaborate before they hit the stage come fall.
Shell Benjamin, director of Masters Dance Company (MDC), always looks forward to seeing her students’ energy and excitement during the weeklong program held in the Fonseca Center dance studio. Twenty dancers participated this year.
“Preseason integrates a lot of new students into the mix to find out what levels they are at,” Benjamin explained. “In the morning, they have me as their teacher, which is all about community-building skills, dancing and learning choreography. And then in the afternoon guest artists come to work with the students.”
Senior MDC member Juan Torres ’24 enjoyed it all, especially the dance professionals (Herman Sebek, Mo O’Connor, Brittany Miller, Josh Zacher) who taught different specialties. “We're working on a variety of pieces including genres like swing, lyrical and hip-hop,” Torres said. “Having such a versatile experience in the company is always exciting; it keeps us engaged.”
“I'm excited to work with the new dancers,” Torres continued. “Dance Company is a community that's hard-working and supportive, so I'm eager to work with new people and build meaningful relationships with younger students.”
Upstairs in the Experimental Theater and rehearsal space, Meg O’Connor, the fall play director, welcomed 57 theater students into the performing arts family.
During preseason, O’Connor said they work on forming their Mainstage team by “getting to know all the new people. Juniors and seniors step into new leadership roles and gear up for the year ahead” through games, monologues and scene reading. This is in preparation for the two fall productions: “Trap,” a mystery/thriller, and “Good Kids,” a play based on true events in which junior and senior thespians will perform.
“We have two extremely different plays being performed, both of which will give the Masters community very different and yet both important and thought-provoking experiences,” Josie Leff ’25 said. “Both plays give the performers and technical artists involved challenging and rewarding scripts to work with, as well as a whole other cast of people to cheer on throughout the process.”
“The goal of preseason,” Leff noted, “is to turn us from a group of kids who may or may not know each other into a cohesive cast that is able to have fun and work hard together.”
“I love theater,” O’Connor said, because “It is such a deep examination of what it means to be human. Through leaping into other lives to bring our stories to an audience, students become braver, more empathetic, more collaborative and more fully themselves. It fills me with profound hope for the future.”