PS 346’s ended their school year with a Motown-themed concert, featuring dance repertoires performed by students in the second grade through fifth grade. The entire auditorium was adorned with Jackson 5 posters, Diana Ross memorabilia and other infamous stars who flourished during the early 1960s till the late 1980s. The theme was based on the Motown Record Company, which was founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959. Since Principal Kevin Caifa deeply admires this golden age of music, the staff decided to orchestrate the Sounds of the Motown Assembly program for their final concert.
In preparation for this old school musical celebration, PS 346’s staff hung dozens of 12-inch vinyl records above the stage as homage to the way people listened to music during the Motown era. The students were also dressed in outfits befitting their musical ensembles, which were all choreographed by Dance Specialist, Teresa Slaughter.
The first act was a b-boy extravaganza celebrating break-dancing, which was a form of Puerto Rican and African American street-dancing that was developed during the mid-1970s in the Bronx. The fourth graders displayed their skills by kicking their feet to Boys II Men’s, “Motown Philly.” This fast-paced routine was shortly followed by the second graders colorfully-dressed performance to Martha & the Vandellas’, “Dancing in the Street.”
The penultimate showcase featured students dressed in white and orange as they boogied to Debarge’s, “Rhythm of the Night.” Each class had a professional demeanor, whether it was dancing in unison or dividing into pairs, their choreography was on point.
Before the final act, the concert held a brief intermission featuring a contemporary musical ensemble of Ayo X Teo’s, “Rolex.” A handful of students stood in front of the closed curtain, and entertained the audience with popular dance routines.
The final performance highlighted an infamous Motown star— Michael Jackson. The students showcased a music video reenactment of Jackson’s hit, “Thriller.” The scene began with two children, a boy wearing a red jacket and a little girl holding his hand laughing as they walked on stage. Then the infamous “Thriller” howl and creepy music began to play, and more children appeared on the stage dressed like zombies. Their shirts were ripped and covered in dirt, and their faces were pale like the undead.
The entire class then proceeded to “do the Thriller” dance routine. The Motown year-end concert was a music history lesson for some students and a trip down memory lane for many of the older adults.
Photos by Amanda Moses