RoCo Fairfax says a mesmerizing goodbye with its final performance


Corina Karr

Middle school dancers perform a contemporary dance in RoCo Dance Onstage.

RoCo Fairfax, the beloved youth dance studio, performed their final recital on Sunday, Jan. 23 at The Marin Center Veterans Memorial Auditorium before saying goodbye to their Fairfax Studio, which will close Feb. 1. The 5 p.m. performance consisted of separate class performances of various age and experience levels, called “RoCo Dance Onstage,” followed by an hour-long modern interpretation of the timeless fairytale Peter Pan, “PETER.” The show’s talented dancers, combined with dramatic light and notable music, led to an enjoyable evening full of applause and joy.

It was an emotional performance for the dancers; for many, the recital would be their last time dancing with RoCo, as continuing at the Mill Valley location is simply inconvenient for some dancers. RoCo dancers range from Kindergarten to twelfth grade and each grade displays a variety of strengths, from beginners to the more experienced and graceful. Although most classes contain dancers of similar ages, there were a few with eleventh and sixth graders in the same class, with the sixth-graders’ talent exceeding their age group. The energy was high and the older dancers were intense and swift.

The young dancers, around five years old, adorably pranced around the stage in fun costumes – one ballet group had a memorable ensemble of two girls in rainbow dresses among the sea of black dresses. Whether it was to symbolize anything was unclear, but the colors popped among the black reminding that even in the dark (RoCo Fairfax closing), there is color and brightness (the expansion of RoCo Mill Valley dancers).

For “RoCo Dance Onstage,” some classes had matching uniformed outfits while others were more creative with a simple theme for the dancers to follow, allowing them an artistic choice. It was intriguing to see each individual’s twist on their outfit to make it unique to themselves. The outfits for PETER were much more intricate and costume-esque with fairies, mermaids, lost boys, and girls in nightgowns. 

The production of PETER, which included Fairfax and Mill Valley dancers, was mesmerizing and although the story was not new, it was told through an exciting new lens. The performance showcased RoCo’s best and most committed dancers of all forms: ballet, modern, hip hop, jazz, and breakdancing. The dancing exceeded any expectations; dancers were lifted into the sky and twirled around, and pirouetted through the air effortlessly. 

The music varied from mystical beats to dramatic singing, a refreshing and constant mixup, and was accompanied by a screened background with words narrating the story. Different actors seemed to portray the same main roles (Peter, Wendy, Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell) throughout the show, and most dancers had multiple roles, making the story a bit hard to follow. However, the exact plot was not too important, with the intriguing choreography outshining the confusion surrounding roles.

PETER’s modern interpretation was especially apparent when Captain Hook and his crew entered the stage in an upbeat hip hop number, with Hook in a snappy floor-length fur coat with a diamond cane and the crew in utility outfits and swords.

As the story’s demonstration was unlike it’s typical form, each scene’s portrayal trickled with innovative surprises, such as the various crocodile outfits forming an image of a crocodile’s mouth when united. The lack of dialogue, aside from songs and a backdrop screen briefly narrating scenes of the story, further promoted the audience to to individually interpret the story. The variety of dance forms added dramatization, a personal favorite was Peter Pan constantly spinning his companions in the air as if they were flying, it was like magic. 

Due to COVID-19, the ever-popular concession stand was closed, which was a disappointment because all shows can be enhanced with a beverage. However, this ended up being irrelevant as intermission was canceled and the show ran from start to finish with no in-between breaks. The theater was at around 30 percent capacity, providing plenty of room to spread out and social distance. Although seats were assigned, it would be no problem to move around as so many seats were empty. Additionally, masks and proof of vaccination were required for entry (none of this was a surprise but the enforcement was commendable).

RoCo Fairfax’s final performance, full of passionate music, dancers and background visuals, did not disappoint. Although it is unfortunate that the Fairfax location is closing, Mill Valley’s future looks bright and will surely continue with impressive RoCo performances for years to come.