Maha & Company dance as a company for the first time

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Courtsey of Chris Jamison

Maha & Company dancing the first show of the night “Mist.” Some Cerritos College dancer perform with Cerritos College dance instructor in their first concert as Maha & Company.

Andrea Mora

After nine months of preparation, the dancers of Maha & Company hit the stage with their first dance concert on Saturday under the direction of Cerritos College dance instructor, Maha Afra, who choreographed and performed in it as well.

For Afra, this was a wish come true. “I’ve wanted this for 10 years and for it to happen has been my dream.”

The company has been running for a total of six years, four of which she says were “unofficial.”

The two-hour show displayed  the talents of several Cerritos College students along with guest artists of the Paso De Oro Dance Company.

Lizette Islas, biochemistry major, said the concert was “very eclectic and multi-cultural. It had a good combination of different dances.”

The show included different styles of dance, like Modern, Latin, Middle Eastern and African.

Yesenia Umana, April Garcia, Candace Rosales, Diana Gonzalez, Edgar Rodriguez, and Andrew Tran are some of the Cerritos College dancers that belong to Maha & Company, along with former students like Steve Rosa and Antoinette Collins.

No stranger to the stage, Umana was nervous while wondering how the turn out would be and if the audience would enjoy what she had  been working so hard to perfect.

As this was the company’s first concert, she said, “We didn’t know what to expect. We just hoped for the best. Also, I was very excited for Maha since this has been a dream of hers and being able to participate in it was great and I enjoyed it.”

As well prepared as Garcia was, she was still very nervous and excited, but “was satisfied with the overall outcome.”

Rosales joined the company during the late months of rehearsals and was nervous for different reasons. “I still didn’t know all the dances perfectly.”

She was also worried that she was going to forget the steps but she said, “after a couple of dances I became confident in what I was doing.”

Cerritos College student Raymond Diaz, who performed with Paso De Oro, said he had high expectations going into the show and left satisfied knowing that they were met.

“It was a great experience working with Paso De Oro. It gave great balance to the show with its folklorico aspect,” Afra said.

Many Cerritos College dancers were in attendance to support their comrades.

After the concert Juanita Reyes, child development major, said, “It was amazing seeing the dancers I usually dance with putting hard work into what they do.

“Maha was dashing on stage with her company,” she added.

Dance major, Raul Ortega, said that the show surprised him in many ways, one being, “the stunts they did surprised me in a good way.”

Susana Benavides, graphic design major, said, “The dancers looked very prepared and they seemed to be enjoying what they were doing. I also loved the variety of dances. They reminded me of why dance is so beautiful and fun.”

Also in attendance were the Chair of the Dance Department Janet Sanderson and several dance instructors, like Phoenix Cole, Rebekah Davidson, Daniel Berney and Erin Landry.

Areal Hughes, deaf interpretation major, usually seen dancing on stage, took on the role of crew member helping her friends backstage and making sure they were ready for their next piece.

The difference between dancing on stage and helping back stage is quite drastic, according to Hughes. “As a dancer, I get to relax and wait for my piece to go on, but as crew member, I’m on call for everyone all the time and there’s not a relaxing moment.

“It was great. The dancers were on point even with the clothing malfunctions, they knew how to keep going and make it work so that the concert seemed breathtaking and effortless,” she added.

“In the end, our hard work paid off,” Umana said.