Recent Posts

Spring Dance Concert

ONTARIO, CA; (04/26/2014): This week's Spring Dance Shows were a resounding success... what follows is the review by professional music critic Milt Wilson, (many thanks to Mr. Wilson for granting permission to to repost his article):

Dance Director Purwin and 156 OHS Students Wow Audience as Beatles Are Honored in Fantastic Program
by Milt Wilson, Music Critic for the Claremont Plaza Coffee Gathering Gazette

This reviewer normally does not waste his time in attending amateur productions, particularly those involving teenage high school students. These performances are, well, you know, often very amateurish, and we all know those teens have a problem, don’t we? The only problems that the Ontario High School Dance Company group would seen to have are (1) not knowing the meaning of “amateur,” (2) not being yet well enough known that a large paid audience would partially reimburse them for their time spent learning 24 complex routines, and (3) their recent performance was not on the stage of one of the five principal musical theater venues in downtime Los Angeles, where this Gazette reviewer would have been joined by his colleagues from The L.A. Times and a few national magazines.

Putting on an entertaining, yet meaningful, musical show involving dance is definitely not for amateurs. The school’s Dance Director Rhonda Purwin is obviously a professional, and one that knows more than the theory and teaching of dance, as she vividly demonstrated by joining one of the groups in a “Show Me How To Burlesque” number just before the intermission. Most Broadway or London West End musicals have at most seven choreographed scenes. In electing to serve us up 24, Mrs. Purwin not only had to face up with developing and then teaching the routines to students as young at 15, with few having had any musical education at all, but to hold the audience’s attention through a wide variety of styles over the course of those 24 tunes. And to write the script holding the whole evening together. Train two young boys how to best use the MC portions of that script to keep the scenes moving from one to the next. And to select talent to operate wonderfully appropriate and inspiring lighting effects from start to finish. And to select specific CDs (sorry, no 30-piece union orchestra to rehearse!) for use for her choreography and that of her guest choreographers. And to often remind that huge cast to keep smiling no matter how far you were run down and a bit achey from all those rehearsals.

The show was entitled “10 Minutes That Changed The World.” This refers to the time allocation that the Beatles were given in the debut of their music and style on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago now. How less than a quarter of an hour not only changed the length of men’s hair, but influenced clothing styles, how celebrities are to be treated and worshipped, and, without much exaggeration, how life was to be lived. I have not settled the argument with myself whether this title and theme chosen by the Dance Director complicated or simplified the CD choice, but it sure made assuring variety a problem. Using some non-Beatle performances helped, as did slipping in a few other “iconic” artists right up to last month’s Chart Toppers. The choice and blend were ideal and I would suggest that some neighboring school district just might learn a lot by next year working around a new theme of “120 Minutes That Changed The Way That Once-Amateurish High School s Put On Dance Company Shows.”

I sincerely wish that I could say “Hey, don’t miss this outstanding show.” Say, “Hey, don’t forget to go back stage and thank Mrs. Rhonda Purwin for devotion far beyond the call of duty.” But, shucks, friends, the show closed on April 25
th. I will try to give you a pre-view next year, not just a re-view!