ST. BONAVENTURE - Sisters Jaclyn and Justine Haskell, Southwestern High School graduates, brought theatrical, dance-based performances to St. Bonaventure University recently.
As members of the St. Bonaventure Hip Hop Team, the sisters hold three shows a year in October, November and April at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
Their past productions have generated high attendance from the student body and area residents. For their most recent show, "Mr. Grinch," which premiered in November, the theater's seats were sold out at both performances.
Pictured are Justine and Jaclyn Haskell, Southwestern High School graduates and St. Bonaventure University students. As members of the St. Bonaventure Hip Hop Team, the sisters hold three shows a year in October, November and April at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Their past productions have generated high attendance from the student body and area residents.
The sisters' adaptation of the classic, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," story featured more than 90 performers and 15 choreographed dances. Twenty members of the St. Bonaventure's a cappella group, Bonacoustics, performed in the show. The Grinch was played by Mike Dlugosz, a St. Bonaventure graduate. Cindy Lou Who was played by Clarita Lemire, from the Allegany area. The DeMarco Sisters School of Dance of Jamestown also took part in the show as toy dolls.
"My sister, Justine, and I, worked closely to put the show together," said Jaclyn. "She wrote the script, while I choreographed dances to incorporate into the theme and script. Since we are the St. Bonaventure Hip Hop Team, most of the dances consisted of hip-hop; however, we did include tap, character and contemporary."
Jaclyn, Justine and Andy Liuzzo, director of Bonacoustics, have taken what they've learned in Jamestown to successfully apply it at St. Bonaventure.
"Our productions aren't just dance recitals - they tell a story through dance, song and acting," said Justine. "The first show we did together was 'Elf,' which was similar to the movie, but we twisted it and people really enjoyed it. So, then we did 'The Wizard of Oz' for our spring show. For that production I wrote the script so that we could tell the story through dance, rather than a play or a musical."
Liuzzo, 2010 graduate of Jamestown High School, who is studying Spanish and journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure, acted as narrator of the "Mr. Grinch" production, as well as singing with Bonacoustics.
"A couple of the songs we did as Bonacoustics were prearranged, but the rest of them were original arrangements made by myself and my assistant Liz Roney," said Liuzzo. "I think Jaclyn and Justine are great; they are fun to work with and always put out a good show. So, I'd love to take part in one of their productions again."
Rosa Farrell, of the DeMarco Sisters School of Dance, said that working with her nieces Jaclyn and Justine was a wonderful opportunity. Jaclyn chose several of her DeMarco students, whom she had taught for many years, including Maddie Harris, Alex Hultberg, Ava Hultberg, Thea Keppel, Ashley Lundmark, Allison Lundmark, Ashlyn Samuelson and Crystal Schrader for "Mr. Grinch."
"They performed a routine in which they were dolls. They were carried out on stage and then came to life and danced ballet and hip-hop," said Farrell. "Jaclyn's ideas for the choreography of this routine was original, creative and amazing. The audience screamed and cheered after this number.
"It is a great pleasure to work with Jaclyn and Justine.They are so talented beyond their years. They are professional and extremely organized. Justine's artistic uniqueness of what she incorporates into writing the script is truly remarkable. Jaclyn choreographed the entire production, making each dance ensemble remarkably different from the last."
Jaclyn started the Hip Hop Team as a freshman at St. Bonaventure, and it has grown to have about 50 members. Now, Jaclyn is a graduate student and graduate assistant for the School of Education. Her sister, Justine, is a junior and majors in psychology.
"I am proud to say that Justine will be replacing me next year as coach of the St. Bonaventure Hip Hop Team," said Jaclyn.
The sisters' next production is scheduled for April 23-25. Jaclyn said she hopes to have the same level of success with their production of "Cinderella," which will feature three shows as a result of the overwhelming success of their past events.
"It's a mixture of all the 'Cinderella' stories," said Jaclyn. "We're going to use the classic story, but then twist it to make it more contemporary. It's going to have a lot of hip-hop in it, but also other dance styles. I'm definitely going to ask the DeMarco sisters to come back for our April show, because they were the highlight of 'Mr. Grinch.'"
Farrell agreed that she and The DeMarco Sisters School of Dance plan on working with the two sisters again for "Cinderella."
"Jaclyn and Justine are extremely busy young ladies," said Farrell. "They just can't relax, especially when it comes to their passion of theatrics. Justine wrote our Christmas musical for the dance studio this year. They both are working on writing and choreographing the shows for The DeMarco's Studio, which the students will perform at Disney World and on the Royal Caribbean Cruise.
"In addition, we are very excited that Jaclyn will be headed back to her hometown next year, bringing all of her amazing talent with her. She has plans and auditions all set for her hometown shows. It will be great to have everyone be able to attend their shows and see just how incredibly talented these two young ladies are."
The entire "Mr. Grinch" show is available for viewing on YouTube by searching for "SBU Hip Hop Presents Mr. Grinch."