Two dancers from Chesapeake High School, Paige Gibson and Cailey Solano, earned All-State honors in late January, ranking them among the 26 best in the state. Earlier in January, the dancers were honored at the Maryland Public High School Dance Showcase evening concert at Goucher College.
The dancers were judged on technique, musicality, professionalism, performance, attitude and likelihood of future success in dance. They were selected via audition by a panel of professional dancers and college/university dance faculty.
Gibson and Solano spoke about their experiences starting out as young dancers and now earning All-State honors. Solano, a junior at Chesapeake High School, started dancing at 4 years old. She loved ballet the most when she first started, she said, because she “loved ballerinas and wanted to be a ballerina.”
Today, she loves all types of dance, but ballet remains one of her favorites, as well as modern dance. Ultimately, she said, “just the feeling of dancing, especially when you’re onstage, is incomparable to anything else.”
In the All-State audition, dancers performed ballet and modern dance at an advanced level. “It really challenges you, both physically and mentally, to keep going,” Solano said of the audition.
She said it gave her a taste of college-level dancing, which she plans to pursue as a dance major at a four-year college. Gibson, who is a sophomore at Chesapeake High School, also wants to pursue dance in college. She began dancing at age 5, after seeing the Rockettes, which inspired her to take dance classes.
“I started out doing tap and ballet, and then as I got older I started experimenting with acrobatics and jazz, contemporary, musical theater,” Gibson said. Then she began doing point, which is her favorite, along with contemporary dance.
As for the All-State audition, Gibson said, “it was an amazing experience,” and an opportunity to learn from dancers from all over the state. Beyond her experience with the Chesapeake High School Dance Company, Gibson dances at a studio called Power Up Dance Center. Both Gibson and Solano are on the competition dance team Power Up.
Gibson said she is also a part of Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ dance ensemble team. The ensemble performs in Anne Arundel County dance festivals, various other dance concerts, and by invitation throughout the school year. Dancers who qualify for ensemble via auditions must be a member in good standing with their high school’s dance company, and maintain good academic standing as well.