Union City Schools Fierce Celebration of Dance 2022

The Performing Arts Center welcomed a passionate display of dance from Union City Schools at their Annual Spring Dance Concert, a bittersweet time for many graduating high school seniors.


“The peak of senior year, getting to perform with your friends, hanging out backstage — it’s the whole experience,” says senior dance student, Felix Tavarez.

Not only are they having kids move for health reasons and fun; but there are actually students that go on to do this as a profession.

“We have many wonderful alumni that are dancing professionally for huge companies, big name places,” says dance instructor, Cristen Pennello, Union City High School’s Governor Educator of the Year. “Obviously, they come back home, they’re teaching here because the support we have for this program is incredible.”

When Pennello started teaching there, she was the only dance teacher in the whole district.

According to Union City Board of Education District FAPA Supervisor, Mirtha Serret, in the past they never had dance — and would bring consultants to the school to teach.

Now they have certified teachers and Serret is glad they are doing that.

“They’re learning concept and also dance at the professional level,” she says.

The honors dance is a modern piece where they’re improvising. 

“It can be any movement, it can be a duet — we can run through the aisles and it’s just to show varieties of movement, different style of artistry,” says Tavarez.

This celebration of dance is a district show, Union City High School — Jose Marti Stem Academy and Union Hill Middle School students were performing as well.

“It’s very exciting to be here in person. This is our third show in person this year but our first exclusive dance show this year,” Pennello says a colleague who is actually her former student helped direct the show.

When Felix graduates — the Union City High School Dance Program will play a definite role in his future…

“Everything, all the information I’ve learned from my teachers; bring my own artistry to whatever choreography they try and give to me,” says the senior dance student.

And he says his high school group all relates to what the other one goes through.

“On stage we dance together, we look towards each other and try to have fun as much as we can and the same time we’re performing we’re trying to deliver a message.

“This performance means a lot to me because it’s one of the last performances that we do here just dedicated towards dance.”

To follow their journey
Pennello’s Dance troupe: @uchsdanceco/Instagram
Board of Ed: UCSchools/Facebook