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Vision Dance brings 'Sweet Sorrow' to state

Scappoose High School's dance team will perform at the state championships on Friday and Saturday. Their performance on Friday begins at 5:15 p.m.


by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - The Scappoose Vision Dance team will perform 'Parting is such sweet sorrow,' a routine inspired by a scene from 'The Great Gatsby,' at the state championships this weekend.Breaking a brief silence, Florence Welch's shrill voice suddenly rings high, “And I'll sing from the piano,” sings Welch, vocalist from the popular indie band Florence + the Machine, “tear my yellow dress and cry and cry and cry.”

Moviegoers and indie fans alike would recognize the tune from the 2013 film 'The Great Gatsby,' but for a select group of student athletes at Scappoose High School, it has a far deeper meaning.

It's the centerpiece of the Vision Dance team's routine, ‘Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow,' they will be performing this weekend at the state Dance and Drill championships at the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum on March 21 and 22, beginning at 5:15 on Friday night. They're even wearing the yellow dresses, but as of Wednesday evening, they still had yet to finalize the last part of their act.

“It's a creative process,” said Pam Didier, the team's head coach. “It's sporty, but it's also a performing art, so it's one of those things that you have to work through.”

Didier has been involved with the program for 17 years, and she and her assistants take the creative process of choreographing the entire routine upon themselves. They began in January, and with each competition, have added things and tweaked little pieces of their show leading up to the final performances on this weekend. They have just to lock down the last few moments, and for the dancers themselves, it's perhaps the most valuable part of the experience.

“They get to learn that way, too,” said Didier They get to learn how to choreograph, and how the different pieces move, and how to develop formations on the floor, because we're judged on that. On our transitions, and how good our formations look and how in sync we are with each other – all of that is scored too, so they learn a lot about that process. They have to be in the right place.”

It's far more than just being sure each individual dancer gets to the right place at the right time, and has their moves down. It's almost a hive-mind. The group moves as a whole, and in order to be successful, there has to be a strong conception of the bigger picture. The coaches will often take video of practices and post them for the dancers to view and critique their own performances, so as to better understand the image the group is trying to create.

“We usually try to get them to convey an emotion,” said Didier. “In certain spots we'll be like ‘okay, you really need to show us some angst here,' so we're really teaching them theatre arts too, in that sense, because they have to convey those different emotions throughout the routine.”

This year's image, going along with Florence + the Machine's 'Over the Love' and a tune by Sinead O'Connor, is in stark contrast to the bright yellow dresses and one snappy suit the team's members are wearing.

The inspiration is taken directly from a scene from 'The Great Gatsby' in which 'Over the Love' can be heard. In the book, a women stands at the piano during a party and sings while she weeps over a fight with her husband. A girl in a yellow dress is playing, and eventually, the singing woman is so overcome that she slumps into a chair, her face strewn with tears and streaked with inky makeup.

The team's routine begins with a pair of dancers lifted above their fellow dancer's heads, as though lying on a piano. For the ending, it seems, you might have to see them in person.