When I was little I wanted to be a Principal Ballerina with the New York City Ballet. With Dance Theatre of Harlem. With Joffery. Then I wanted to make it to 5’6″ so I could be a Radio City Rockette. Then I wanted to be the next Sutton Foster and take over Broadway. Then I wanted to dance with Hubbard Street Dance Company.
For a long time I mourned those dreams. I mourned that my depression robbed me of succeeding at UArts and having a chance at breaking into the dance scene in New York or Chicago. I mourned that I’m not tall or thin enough to be a Rockette. I felt like I let my potential go to waste because I’ve never tried my hardest at anything and therefore robbed myself of those dreams. It took me a long time to stop being mad at myself.
I have been so unbelievably lucky in and thankful for the training I’ve received in my life. I was so lucky the dance studio closest to my house when I was 5 was run by an amazing teacher who filled the studio with love and good technique. I’m so lucky that my parents found Virginia Ballet Theatre (now Ballet Virginia International) when we moved. My teachers there were so wonderful and solidified my ballet technique and love for dance. I’m so lucky I decided to look in the “Schools Not Listed” section in the back of the Seattle Times High School Guide before we moved to Seattle and I found the Washington Academy of Performing Arts Conservatory High School. 30 kids? Ballet and Musical Theatre? I was sold in a heartbeat. I fell in love with jazz. True, it wasn’t always the healthiest of environments, but I would not be who I am without it and I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for my time at UArts, even though I sometimes still have to remind myself I didn’t fail there. I changed as a dancer while there. Horton and Graham began to influence the way I move, though I couldn’t tell that at the time. I’m so thankful Melissa welcomed me back to Seattle with open arms and a company that reminded me why I love to dance. I’m so thankful I had a terrible job in Pike Place down the alley from the tea shop where I met Lisa and she told me about 127th St. Auditioning for 127th St Dance Co was the first time I really put myself out there as a dancer and my life changed. Barbara and Rochelle taught my soul to feel again. I am so very thankful for the family I have found in the School of Theatre & Dance at UM. I have been given such a gift, being in school right now. I am so very thankful I got a chance to do school right. I’m so thankful I’m a 27 year old sophomore. I am in such a good, healthy, happy headspace right now and I have teachers and friends who push me as a dancer and support me as a person and I feel so lucky and blessed.
I’ve learned so much about myself as a dancer in the past three semesters. I am such a different dancer than I ever thought I would be. I am so clearly influenced by my training. Whenever people ask me what kind of dancer I am, I have a hard time answering. I can trace direct lines to Alvin Ailey, Antony Tudor, Bebe Miller, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Buzz Miller, George Balanchine, Gus Giordano, Jack Cole, Jacques d’Amboise, Jerome Robbins, Jiri Kylian, Joan Meyers Brown, Joe Tremaine, Kent Stowel, Lee Theodore, Martha Graham, Michel Fokin, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Nancy Stark Smith, Pat Graney, Paul Taylor, Robert Joffery, Rodolf Nureyev, Sergi Diaghilev, Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe and so many more. I am a product of all their styles and more.
I used to hate improv. When I started at UM I had nothing but negative feelings about improv and its use in rehearsals. But we use it so often here at school, both in rehearsal as material generation and inspiration and in classes, so I had to learn to enjoy it. I love it so much now. It has become a part of my dance style and I’m thankful for the tools it has given me.
A couple weeks ago I was in rehearsal with Sydoney, Carissa, Samual, and Marit for Sydoney’s beginning comp final piece. Her camera battery died, but I had my computer with me so I recorded our improv for her. I’ve never watched myself improv before. I think I like what I see. I’m not in the shape I’d like to be in and I’m sure I could find a million things to nitpick about the way I look and move, but I’m not going to.
I’m thankful for the freedom I’ve found as a dancer in the past couple of years.