Video drive-in replaces Dancing With the Staff



Math teacher Christian Bueno (middle) holds a bouquet of roses and the Dancing with the Staff trophy on Dec. 8, 2017. The annual fundraiser for the dance program would have reached its 10th year had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic. The event was replaced with a drive-in at the farm parking lot where the audience watched video dance performances.

Stacy Kim, Staff Reporter

As the first campus organized event of the 2020-2021 school year during the coronavirus pandemic, the Sunny Hills dance program held an alternative to its traditional Dancing With the Staff [DWTS] fundraiser Dec. 11 in the campus’ farm parking lot.

Called “Dancing Under the Stars,” the 7-9 p.m. event featured video performances from dance instructor Leiana Volen’s Dance 3 and Dance Production [DP] students along with cameo appearances from 19 faculty members, Volen said.

“Like all the performers, I am obviously sad to not host our [DWTS event] like normal, but this is completely out of any of our control,” she said.

The traditional fall, end-of-the-semester event would have reached its 10th year in featuring students sharing the Performing Arts Center [PAC] stage with a number of teachers and staff to raise money for Volen’s program. For the first time in its history last year, it was held in the gym because the PAC was closed for modernization.

This second change in the venue came about after Volen and her husband went to one of the Dodger Stadium Drive-in events to watch the World Series in October, and together, they came up with Dancing Under the Stars, Volen said.

Volen then promoted the event primarily on social media through the Instagram account, @shhsdance, while her DP students helped out by reposting.

Those who wanted to attend paid $10, which was $2 less than last year’s DTWS fundraiser; payments were made online through the link in @shhsdance’s bio.

To gain entry into the farm’s parking lot, drivers in their cars had to show the DP members their order confirmation email before they were allowed to find a parking spot; each car had to remain six feet apart, and motorists and their passengers had to remain inside their vehicles at all times to watch the video clips on a large screen with ample sound to carry to all the cars.

Among the faculty members who appeared in the video performances was Korean teacher Esther Lee.

“A Dance 3 member asked me to learn the Korean traditional Fan Dance, and it was very fun to do but also very tiring,” said Lee, who was unable to attend Dec. 11. “My legs felt like they were dying the whole time.”

Math teacher Cristian Bueno, a former participant and champion of DWTS, acknowledged Volen’s efforts in making this event possible during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I’m especially in awe of [Volen] for doing Dancing Under the Stars this year, and having to think outside the box so her students still get to experience something,” Bueno said.

One other change to the format was that clubs such as Deviation, a hip hop group at Sunny Hills, that performed in previous DWTS were not part of the videos.

“I am sad about the cancellation of DWTS because I don’t get to perform with my friends,” said Deviation club member sophomore Charlize Seh, who opted not to attend the event.

“It was a very enjoyable experience for me,” said Seh, who will not be attending the event. Freshman Ashley Hong was among those from DP who attended the drive-in.

“It went really well, and there was more people than I expected,” Hong said. “The performances were so fun, especially seeing how the dance that I was featured in turned out. This event was so unique, and the experience was very enjoyable.”

This story also appeared in the Dec. 14 print issue, which can be read here.