‘Winterfest’ students pirouette center stage

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published January 25, 2013

 On Feb 1-2, the “Winterfest” spotlight will shine on Sterling Heights High School senior Kianee Truvillion-Sims, left; Warren Mott High School senior Jacquelynne Walker, center; and SHHS junior Niyah Riggins this weekend.

On Feb 1-2, the “Winterfest” spotlight will shine on Sterling Heights High School senior Kianee Truvillion-Sims, left; Warren Mott High School senior Jacquelynne Walker, center; and SHHS junior Niyah Riggins this weekend.

Photo provided

STERLING HEIGHTS — The dances have been choreographed, the costumes sewn, the music selected and the audience invited.

The spotlight will shine on 80 Warren Consolidated Schools of Performing Arts students Feb. 1-2  as they perform in the district’s annual “Winterfest.” Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

“Winterfest” is WCSPA’s annual celebration of dance and musical theater. The students’ show-stopping numbers blend dance, music, acting and technical design. Many students not only perform jazz, modern, tap and lyrical routines but are behind the choreography, too. “Winterfest” has a little bit of everything, including Broadway show tunes and contemporary pieces.

“There’s quite a few hip-hop numbers from songs on the radio. Also some ethnic and cultural dances are represented,” WCSPA dance teacher June Wygant said. “The students are bringing better choreography to the table. From a technical standpoint, that’s neat to see them mastering different movements together.”

Justin Baranski is one to watch. The Cousino High School senior will jazz it up in “Don’t Break the Rules” from “Catch Me If You Can.” He’ll also lace up his tap shoes for “That’s How You Jazz,” recognizable from “Jelly’s Last Jam.”

The student also choreographed his own piece to a boy-band mix of songs, including the Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync. The “kind of a comedic piece” is a bit of a departure for Baranski. The routine is a play on the boy-band phenomenon.

Baranski and his sister Sydney Baranski, who hail from a theater-driven family, will mark their duet debut dancing together to “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” from “Annie Get Your Gun.”

“We always joke she is the better dancer,” Justin Baranski said.

Sterling Heights High School senior Kianee Truvillion-Sims will entertain in the jazz number “Rules,” and Wygant’s lyrical piece to Gotye’s best-selling single, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Several other pieces, including a step-dance routine and a lyrical jazz solo piece, are in Truvillion-Sims repertoire.

“I like the lyrical,” she said. “All the words mean something to you.” She said this year’s “Winterfest” dances are “more fun” than previous years. Choreographing, though, can be challenging.

“You have to come up with everything and teach it,” Truvillion-Sims said. It also has its perks. “I combine a lot of feelings about life — good things and bad things.”

The stage performer plans to pursue musical theater after graduation. She’d like to dance all the way to Broadway and then work in television. 

Cousino senior Jonah Conner will give Rascal Flatts fans a thrill when he performs to the trio’s song “Skin” with Warren Mott High School senior Emily Blaquiere.

“I made it in to a dance,” he said.

This is Conner’s first time taking on the leadership of choreographer.

“His piece is great at telling a simple story with emotion and beauty, capitalizing upon areas of strength for him and the female dancer,” Wygant said.

Conner will appear in three other dances, including Baranski’s boy-band number. He likes how much variety is in “Winterfest.”

“Whatever you’re interested in theater-wise, you can see it when you come to the show,” Conner said.  

He admitted to becoming nervous before each show and knows his final “Winterfest” “will be emotional.”

“This is my last year,” he said.

Wygant said the students have rehearsed for about four weeks. A fifth week of practice, prior to the show, is deemed as “tech week” to perfect lighting and sound.

WCSPA is a two-hour class open to students from Sterling Heights, Warren Mott and Cousino high schools. Schools of Choice students also are welcome. Performers must audition to be accepted to the program.

Some students come to the program with years of dance experience, while others are novices. The performers study dance geared at their skill level.

“Winterfest” tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets are available by calling (586) 825-2525 extension 1, or online at www.wcskids.net/wcspa.

The WCS Performing Arts Center is located at 12901 15 Mile Road in Sterling Heights.