The Past, Present, & Future
Truth be told, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t dancing. People always ask me as to why I dance, or as to how I came into being a dancer, but I’ve never been able to give any of these people a fully fledged response. Dance has always been a part of my identity, and I have no single memory of realizing that this was what I wanted to do. It was always something that was simply a fact of life.
The first studio I remember dancing at was called The Reston Conservatory. It was a small little studio in the shopping plaza near my house. I was only there for a few months before I auditioned to study at The Washington Ballet. I danced at Washington Ballet for about five years, and it was here that I was first formally trained in ballet, jazz, and character. It was also while I was at Washington Ballet that I first began to choreograph. This quickly became central to my identity as an artist, and I very quickly realized that choreography satisfied both my desire for physical expression, as well as my desire to be able to construct, shape, change, and influence the world around me.
After five transformative years at The Washington Ballet, I auditioned for and was accepted into a boarding school for classical ballet dancers in Florida. This school, known as The HARID Conservatory, served to build up, strengthen, and solidify my classical ballet technique. I moved away from home (Washington D.C.) when I was 13 to attend the school, and I graduated from there four years later when I was 18. I am lucky to say that I have never for a moment regretted my time at HARID, as I learned such a vast amount in regards to ballet there, and HARID perfectly set me up to graduate and go straight into a company as a full-time ballet dancer. However, I had something slightly different in mind. The thing was, I still wanted to choreograph. This desire to create dance stayed with me throughout my time at HARID, and although I received excellent opportunities at HARID in terms of ballet training, I did not receive many opportunities to choreograph. I had also come to understand that if I were to go directly into a ballet company as a trainee I would have even less opportunities to choreograph, as I would then be required to commit all of my time to learning the company repertoire. It was in light of these facts that my focus came to rest upon Juilliard.
At Juilliard there are countless opportunities to choreograph, experiment, create, and grow. While there is certainly a status quo in terms of technique, the environment here remains very conducive to our work as creators and explorers. For starters, we have four choreographic workshops a year in which anyone may create and present a piece as they like. There are no creative restrictions on the nature of the pieces which are presented, and we also receive access to resources in the costume and makeup department, which is hugely helpful. Additionally, we have other choreographic opportunities through programs such as Choreo-Comp and Choreographic Honors. It's programs like these that are especially attractive to me, and it's programs like these that I hope will aid me in my journey as an artist after Juilliard.
There are a plethora of paths that a dancer can take after they graduate from Juilliard. Each one is unique, but for me personally I am particularly interested in joining a creation-oriented contemporary company. As opposed to simply learning and performing repertoire, I would much rather be a part of the dance creation process. In the beginning I do intend to do the majority of my work as a dancer, however as time goes on and I gain more experience I do intend to orient myself into a more choreographically intensive position within the dance world. There are a number of companies which fit this bill, which include but are not limited to: Netherlands Dance Theater, Ballet X, Ballet BC, and Le Ballets Jazz de Montreal. These are the places I have set my sights to. But for now, here at Juilliard, I’ve been quite happy to enjoy the present, and I’m quite interested to see where it will take me. Thanks for checking into this week’s blog, and don’t forget to come back next week to read about what a day in the life of a Juilliard dancer is like!
Juilliard Dance 2020