The 30th anniversary of Harvard’s CityStep inspired a flashback through time as dinosaurs, Greek heroes, and American explorers danced on stage in Sanders Theatre Friday and Saturday evening.
Since its founding in 1983 by Sabrina T. Peck ’84, CityStep—which partners Harvard undergraduates with Cambridge public school students—has grown to be one of the largest independent public service organization at Harvard.
Rachel M. Hansen ’14, one of the show’s executive directors, said the program aims to foster creativity, self-expression, and teamwork through arts education.
“CityStep brings the kids together as a class and also helps them grow and be more confident. You see them kind of break out of their shells,” Hansen said.
More than 150 Cambridge students and 65 Harvard undergraduates performed in the annual event that marks the end of a school year’s worth of practice. To commemorate CityStep’s growth over time, the show was themed as an exploration through time.
The performance began with the first-year students of the program from the Tobin Montessori School doing a prehistoric-themed dance. The next acts moved through ancient Greece, the exploration of America, the roaring ’20s, and the 1970s. Finally, it ended with a tribute to the future.
CityStep instructors also performed a dance themed after the classic 1980s film “The Breakfast Club” in honor of the organization’s founding year.
Current CityStep members reached out to CityStep alumni, the CityStep Graduate Board, and Peck to attend the show. Saturday afternoon’s performance also drew parents and teachers from the participating schools.
“The show was so great, and the kids were so excited afterwards,” said Bianca M. Nfonoyim ’15, one of the teachers for first-year students. “I just love seeing the kids on stage and how smiley they were seeing their parents and family and friends cheer for them. I felt really good about it.”
CityStep instructors taught seven classrooms of fifth, sixth, and seventh graders across the Cambridge public school district—the Amigos School, Tobin Montessori School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, King-Open School, Putnam Avenue Upper School, and Cambridge Street Upper School.
Each CityStep classroom has four or five Harvard undergraduate dance teachers as well as a classroom director who oversees the teachers for each class.
“I think probably the coolest thing is throughout the year seeing how the kids grow and change from CityStep. In the beginning, some of them might be a little more shy, not into dancing a lot, but it’s really great too see how throughout the year they get more confident and really into it,” Nfonoyim said.
The performance ended with a packed stage of all performers, instructors, and alumnus who joined in organization’s signature dance and bow-out, wrapping up CityStep for the school year.