NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 19, 2013

Newburyport field hockey team dances to cure breast cancer

By Jim Sullivan
Correspondent

---- — With October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Anna Jaques Hospital couldn’t have picked a better time to get the word out about their new Gerrish Breast Care Center, and they are doing it in a unique fashion.

“I thought it was kind of weird at first,” said Newburyport field hockey midfielder Meg Stanton. “I had no idea what to expect. But it was fun once we did it.”

Based around the theme of community, Anna Jaques has entered into the 2013 Medline Pink Glove Dance competition, a national music video contest where hospitals compete for a chance to win $25,000 by making the best 90-second video set to the popular song, “Alive” by Krewella. The winning team will then be able to put their winnings towards the breast cancer charity of its choice, and the hospital has selected Amesbury’s Tough Warrior Princesses.

Tasked to get things going for AJH back in June, Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations Danielle Perry didn’t know where to start.

“I knew that I would be in over my head trying to choreograph anything,” said Perry with a laugh.

Determined not to let that get in her way, Perry reached out to Newburyport High School and was put in touch with Stanton’s fellow Clipper Renee Vartabedian. Perry wanted to know if she would choreograph the video, and the then-sophomore jumped at the chance.

“We met over the summer,” Vartabedian said of herself and Perry. “And I worked with my dance coach, Fontaine Dubus, to make a dance for six people through Exit Dance Theater. We (then) made a more skilled dance for us, and we made simpler movements for (the rest).”

With pink gloves as the focal point, the choreography came together over the course of two months. Then Vartabedian and Dubus began teaching the moves to about 100 dancers from the Institution for Savings, Interlock Salon, Exit Dance, the Anna Jaques Oncology Center and, of course, the Clippers.

“It’s fun,” Vartabedian said. “We used pink gloves as kind of the emphasis. So there were a lot of jazz hands. We (also) tried to highlight the breast cancer survivors (in the group).”

“The pink gloves sort of unite everyone that was in the video,” said Perry. “And we feel like the hands that fill them symbolize the support and the strength of the community that came together to make this project a reality.”

Perry said the hospital is going up against 200 others across the country. All of the videos are available at pinkglovedance.com where people can vote for their favorite once a day until the contest ends, November 4.

“We are really, really hoping that people will vote because it’s all based on votes,” said Perry. “(But) we think our chances are excellent because we have so much support in this community, the hospital and the cause.”

The Clippers are also preparing for the annual Play 4 the Cure game against Pentucket at the Amesbury Sports Park on Monday. The cause has become personal for the Clippers, whose coach, Lauren Hefferan, was diagnosed with breast cancer just a month prior to the game two years ago. Hefferan is currently in remission.

“I was a freshman when that happened,” said Vartabedian. “And I think the team really enjoyed being able to help because we have that personal connection. We are really close as a team this year, it’s really fun. It’s really helping our play I think, to be so close. Our friendship is something that you can see on the playing field.”

Stanton said her only dancing experience came at the Prom, but she found herself getting into the synchronized action with all of the other dancers during the video’s shoot in front of the hospital last month.

“It was hard for us all to do it at the same time and not to laugh,” said Stanton. “We didn’t want to mess it up, but we did it in the end.”

A film crew from Matter Communications shot the dancers at the hospital, and has also been filming scenes of the Clippers during their games this season.

“There were pink gloves and pink T-shirts, and some of them had survivor shirts on,” Perry said. “The word that comes to mind is just ‘inspiring’. It was a celebration of the women and the families in the community that have all come together to support people going through this.”