Choreographers share twists and turns of MEX


Melanie Kurapatti

Sophomores Jahnavi Prabhala, Sahana Aiyer, Shivani Mullapudi and Shreya Chappidi and class sponsor Charles delaCuesta lead the Class of 2018’s MEX rehearsal.

Adithi Ramakrishnan, Team Leader

The annual homecoming pep rally on Oct. 23 is one of the most exciting events of homecoming week, where classes showcase their school spirit through friendly competition.  Each class will perform a Musical Extravaganza (MEX) on Oct. 23, complete with dance routines and live music choreographed to match the class’ homecoming theme.  MEX choreographers begin planning for homecoming week well in advance and must overcome numerous hurdles in order to unite and coordinate their class MEX on time.  This week, tjTODAY interviewed MEX choreographers freshman Liana Keesing, sophomore Sahana Aiyer, junior Sishaar Rao and senior Sydney Parks about the ups and downs of planning an eight-minute theatrical performance.

Q. Why did you decide to become a MEX choreographer?

Keesing: I’m a co-lead choreographer with Shruti Chennamaraja, as well as a FroshComm representative. I took over ten years of dance, and [Shruti] dances semi-professionally, so we both have experience. We helped to select the [MEX] choreography team.

Aiyer: Dancing is one of my passions and I thought it was a great idea to promote class spirit while doing something I love.

Rao: Frankly, it sounded like a lot of fun. MEX is one of the highlights of homecoming week, and it’s all about getting people involved. I love dancing, and I love teaching people how to dance. Getting [the Class of 2017] involved in MEX and dancing was just a combination of things that I love.

Parks: I decided to become a MEX choreographer and 2016 MEX director because I love dance and the performing arts. I also know that my class has a ton of potential to create a MEX better than ever before, and I’m determined to unlock that potential and let 2016’s talent shine through. Organizing MEX is a lot of work and can be quite stressful, but in the end, it’s all worth it to see my class be proud of our performance.

Q. What is the most challenging aspect of choreographing MEX?

Keesing: Trying to incorporate everyone’s ideas is the hardest part of choreographing MEX. Everyone has a vision, and since I’m both a choreographer and on FroshComm, it’s [the MEX choreographers’] responsibilities to bridge all those ideas and put them together into one cohesive performance.

Aiyer: The most challenging part of choreographing MEX would definitely be all the commitment [involved]. All choreographers still have the same amount of work as everyone else, so sometimes it’s hard to balance [work] out during lunch when we have MEX practice but also a test the next period.

Rao: Finding times when everybody can come together and practice [at once] is a challenge. [People commute to TJ from] far away, and are always super busy, so it’s hard to coordinate [times and locations] so that everybody in the dance can show up. Choreographing dances [involves] always working on different sections in the dance, and hoping that they come together smoothly [as a whole].

Parks: Deciding upon a general feeling or emotion I want to be conveyed in a dance is pretty easy for me, but translating those abstract concepts to physical choreography can be hit or miss. The fact that we are seniors adds a bit of pressure, but whether it’s junior MEX or senior MEX, I’m always giving 110%. That said, 2016 set the bar very high last year, so trying to beat our own standards is somewhat daunting.

Q. Why do you think MEX is such an eagerly anticipated part of homecoming week?

Keesing: Even though we’re only freshmen, all of us can see how special MEX is to TJ. It’s an opportunity for us to be brought together, outside of the stress of our schoolwork, and bond over something a little crazy, something we’d never get to otherwise- participate in an eight minute musical dance performance. It’s a chance to relax, to metaphorically let down our hair a little, and to escape the competitive atmosphere of TJ. In a sense, it’s almost TJ tradition’s answer to the One Question this year.

Aiyer: It’s a production that the whole class has worked so hard to put on together. To finally be able to showcase [the class of 2018’s] talents at MEX is [amazing].

Rao: It’s just so much fun. [Dancing to] music and performing in front of your friends is [a great experience]. Going to rehearsals and meeting your friends [during practices] only builds excitement for the week.

Parks: It is probably the homecoming competition that requires the most preparation. [Students] become emotionally invested in MEX. When [students] have to spend 4 hours on a Sunday practicing outside in 50 degree weather, the class really bonds, and suddenly MEX is more than just another competition.