It may be the dead of winter, but students in Cedar Creek High School's dance program will liven things up Feb. 7 when its presents "Student Works," a dance showcase featuring all original works.

All 105 students in the Advanced Dance and Intro to Dance classes will appear on stage for the public performance, said dance teacher Ashley Tabano.

The school has presented dance recitals before, but this is the first year there has been an Advanced Class, and the show will combine all the classes, with students ranging from 10th through 12th grades, Tabano said.

Tabano said students have been preparing for the show since almost the beginning of the school year.

"As soon as it was set, they just jumped right in and were enthusiastic about what they were going to do," Tabano said. "It takes a lot of behind the scenes work and all the classes really put in a lot of effort."

There will be about 18 numbers in the show that spotlight both group performances and soloists. The choreography ranges from contemporary to traditional, and the students in each of the classes chose their own genres based on their individual styles, Tabano said.

And as part of their choreography, students selected their own music for the performances.

Tabano, who has been teaching dance at Cedar Creek for two years, said she is proud of the finished result that the students put together.

"The students are really so excited to show what they've been working on," said Tabano, who was a dance student herself at Absegami High School before she graduated in 2001. "For dancers, performing is a natural extension of what we do."

Krystal Bradley is in the Advanced Dance class and said she has been a dance student since she was 8 years old.

"I love to dance; it's my thing," said the 17-year-old Egg Harbor City resident. "I love to express myself through dancing."

Although she is trained in ballroom and Latin-style dance, Krystal said she also enjoys contemporary, jazz, hip-hop and lyrical styles of dance.

Krystal still takes private lessons and said she plans to continue dancing in college.

The performing arts student said she is excited about Friday's performance.

"We've worked really hard to prepare, and everyone is looking forward to it," Krystal said.

Senior Mercina Stefanski, 18, of Mullica Township, said she has been dancing "on and off" since she was very young, taking some tap and ballet lessons. But it wasn't until she began the dance program at Cedar Creek that she really appreciated it.

"The program here has been so educational," said Mercina, also an Advanced Dance class student. "I really enjoy everything about it."

One of the standout players on the girls basketball team, Mercina said being a dancer means she can express herself as an individual.

Unlike being on a team, dancing is pretty much a solo effort, she said.

"Basketball is a big part of who I am, but with dance I can express myself differently," said the athlete, who added that her dance training actually improves her footwork on the basketball court.

"And you get a good workout when we practice in dance class. Everybody thinks it's an easy, but it really builds stamina," Mercina said.

The Student Works program will last about 90 minutes. During intermission there will be a concession stand in the lobby and proceeds from the sale of refreshments will benefit the dance department for the purchase of costumes and props and to fund future activities.

Tabano said she hopes for a good turnout from the community. Last year's spring recital was well received and had about 700 people in the audience, she said.

"It will be exciting, entertaining and lively. I think the community will really enjoy it," she said.

Tabano credits the administration at Cedar Creek High School in supporting the performing arts, especially the dance program.

"The program itself is only two years old, and we get a lot of support in the curriculum and with our programs," Tabano said. "The school has really been very positive about dance."

The school has embraced the dance program by including student performances at various activities throughout the year, such as during award night, she added.

Contact Lucia C. Drake:


If you go

What: 'Student Works,' a dance showcase

When: 6 p.m., Feb. 7

Where: Cedar Creek High School auditorium, 1701 New York Ave., Egg Harbor City

Cost: $5, age 6 and younger free; tickets sold at door

For info: call 609-593-3560