the Concord Magazine May/June 2001
The Ezine for and about Concord, Massachusetts

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Dance of the Red-Tailed Hawk

An interpretative dance choreographed by Jeremy Pasha to Méandres from Cirque du Soleil's Nouvelle Experience. Danced by Jeremy Pasha, Katherine Horlitz, Emily Blessing, and Jason Haas. Narrated by Amelia Atwaters-Rhodes, Concord Carlisle High School B Block Drama Class Students.

Musketaquid Earth Day 2001The red-tailed hawk is one of Concord's most beautiful predators. In the springtime, anyone who passes the high school may see the pair of hawks that nest near the railroad tracks. Red-tailed hawks mate for life, so the same pair returns each year. You can see them engaged in beautiful mating dances, during which they spin each other around, turning cartwheels in the air before diving a hundred or even a thousand feet.

The mother hawk lays one to three eggs a season. She will stay near the nest, guarding her young and nurturing them, while her mate ranges in search of food.

The father hawk searches for small rodents, reptiles, rabbits, or other prey. It can see clearly from the sky at distances that a human sees only a featureless blur. And when the hawk dives, it may exceed highway speeds before gripping its prey in vice-like talons to kill. The father then brings the food back to his mate and children.

By the end of the season, the young hawks are full grown, able to spread their wings, hunt alone, and seek their own mates.

Student Close-Ups
Jason Haas: "In order to become the "baby" hawk, I had to make myself seem smaller than the other performers, though in reality I was taller and had a "long wingspan." The progression of my character is simple, yet majestic; I start as an awkward hatching, following its mother's instructions and turn into a fully developed flying hawk."

Emily Blessing: "After my group decided to do an interpretational dance, we had a few things which needed to be completed. First, we had to find some appropriate music that lent itself to dance. Then, Jeremy Pasha choreographed the parts for the mother and father hawk as well as the baby hawk and bunny rabbit. While Jeremy was choreographing and teaching us our moves, Amy was researching the red-hawk lifestyle. To play the bunny, I dressed in all light gray and made a fluffy white bunny tail and ears. The basic move for my dance was hopping added to a few other basic dance moves as I tried to flee my predators."

Katherine Hortlitz: "Dancing as a mother of a red-tailed hawk, I wore brown and black with a red tail. The dance moves were mostly graceful, flying motions with some turns and jumps. At some points in the music, I had to protect and nurture the baby - which is hard because we had no predator for me to fight. At the end of the dance, Jeremy and I let Jason (our baby) fly away on his way to adulthood."

Jeremy Pasha: Choreographing the piece for the Musketaquid performance was a challenge. First of all, trying to find music to fit our red-tail hawk story was difficult. Then, choreographing a piece for dancers who have a wide range of dancing experience while making sure the piece was still interesting made this a difficult project. However, our group rose to the challenge. Each person took a lot of time working to learn the choreography. While most dances take weeks to prepare for performance level, our group pulled together and performed wonderfully after only two weeks of preparation."


Photos: Students in rehearsal and performance. (©Deborah Bier; ©Daniel Rooney)
Background: "My Neighbor, Hawk" by Ellie Bemis.


Katherine Horlitz as the mama hawk


Jeremy Pasha as the papa hawk


Mama and baby hawk

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