See Mayfield’s first ever Class Dance-Off Contest take off with awesome moves

Drumroll, please...
The winner of Mayfield Senior School’s inaugural Spirit Week Dance-Off is...
Our esteemed panel of five judges (staff from the Development and Finance Departments) awarded first place to the sophomores for their great enthusiasm, creativity, in-sync choreography—all that, plus they just looked like they were having blast!

Juniors took second, freshmen third and seniors fourth. The seniors wildly cheered themselves on because, of course, they are the coolest class.

On day four of Spirit Week, with the entire student body packed into the gym bleachers, we cranked up the speaker volume and each class rocked out in a raucous display of varying levels of group choreography. Deafening cheers punctuated every performance.

Head of School Kate Morin looked on with satisfaction. This is just what she had hoped for.

In numerous visits with Mayfield alumnae around the country, Mrs. Morin always asks an important question: What is your best Mayfield memory?

The nearly unanimous answer is Term Plays, an entire week that was devoted solely to the creation and performance of an original play by each class. Fun, lifetime memories, competition, and school spirit all came together in the Term Play.

The tradition ended in the early 1990s when it became untenable because of increasingly challenging schedules and the need to maximize instructional hours, especially for Advanced Placement classes.

“We just can’t take a week off now, but I wanted to bring back that same sense of memory for the girls,” Mrs. Morin said. “This dance-off is inspired by our beloved alums and something they hold very very dear. I think our girls today are going to hold this experience very very dear, too.”

The contest also offered the girls an opportunity to develop their leadership skills.

“They have to figure things out, they have to plan, they have to learn how to make decisions,” Mrs. Morin said.

If you think these are overly-ambitious goals for a crazy dance contest, the sophomore class provides a look into high-level strategic planning, leadership and inclusivity.

Class President Lauren Sugiyama ’20 said she called together class officers and Dance Conservatory members to brainstorm. They decided to choreograph an original dance.

“We didn’t take this off of YouTube,” Lauren said. But they were also concerned that some girls might not be comfortable performing—especially dancing.

“We wanted everyone to feel comfortable, we didn’t want this to be too complicated, we didn’t want anyone to stress out,” said Jenna Khachatourian ’20. “We wanted everyone to be excited to be a part of something.”

They decided the dance would be broken into four groups, based on girls’ experience and comfort level with performance.
Then they created and emailed out a class survey with one question: How comfortable are you with dancing?
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Comfortable
  • Not really comfortable
  • Never danced before
Sophomore choreographers went to work devising a dance routine appropriate for each level. When they gathered as a class to practice, each group leader pinned 1, 2, 3 or 4 on their shirt and demonstrated the dance. Girls could chose the group that best suited them.

“We were afraid we were going to get some pushback from girls,” said Ella DesHotel ’20. “But everyone was super excited. I think it was because we really wanted to be inclusive and keep girls in their comfort zone.”

The judges noted that it was a close race between the sophomores, juniors and freshmen. Seniors, they said, got points for having a good time!

“It definitely was a competitive morning and the vote was not unanimous,” said one judge who requested anonymity to protect her neutrality in future competitions. “I think the sophomores’ enthusiasm and confidence on the dance floor really made them stand out.”

The sophomores, who have been trending on the low side in spirit game points, expressed relief.

“We finally won something!” said Yalda Zadeh ’20. “What was great is that everyone had a chance to be bold, bond, do something really fun with your friends. I’m so glad we did this.”

A new Mayfield tradition is born!
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.