Conservatory for the Arts
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Two sisters, freshman and senior, share the stage at “Imagine” Dance Conservatory show

The duo begins in the center of a darkened stage. A harsh overhead light illuminates their side-by-side forms. The freshman dancer, Drew Valentino, faces front. Only the back of her older sister, Avery, is visible before the two pull the width of the stage away from each other in perfect synchronization.
A love song featuring a single smoky voice and acoustic piano resonates through Pike Auditorium and into the hearts of the audience as these two sisters dance in a special performance during Mayfield’s much-anticipated Dance Conservatory show that opened Thursday night.

The Valentino sisters chose “Make You Feel My Love,” by Adele. The version of the Bob Dylan ballad takes a new meaning when performed by the girls.

“We’re sisters, we love each other,” Avery Valentino ‘19 said. “Me being a senior and she a freshman, I want to show her and tell her how much I love her.”

For Drew, the opportunity went deeper than performing a duet on stage.

“I don’t express myself really well,” said Drew Valentino ’22. “I don’t like hugs and this dance is kind of like me telling her I do love her before she leaves,” she said.

The freshman, who has studied dance longer than her older sister, says she chose to attend Mayfield to follow in her sister’s dance steps.

“I wanted to be with her again,” said Drew. “The dance program was part of it because I knew how much Avery loved it.”

Choreography by Denise Leitner, Dance Conservatory director, ensured that the well-matched artistry of the girls came through in the reflective, poetic number.

“We choreographed it together,” said Leitner. “I did a lot of it and said, ‘okay you guys, what do you want to do here?’” Layers of the love and mutual angst between 17-year-old Avery and 14-year-old Drew are evident on the stage.

“They are such close sisters so I wanted to make a dance for them that represented their travels as they grew up,” Leitner said.

The experience, said the girls, has brought them even closer together in their mutual admiration for each other’s determination, perseverance, and courage.

“When it’s just us, we are both perfectionists in our way,” said Avery who noted that differences in artistic vision can be a delicate balance between them. “We understand each other creatively, I feel, and the music helps us just kind of figure it out.”
 
“Imagine” Dance Conservatory Performances
Thursday, Dec. 6 - 7:00 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 7 - 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 8 - 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.


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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 21 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.