The Places You’ll Go
We all know that life has a tendency of taking you to unexpected places. You try to follow some sort of predetermined path and then next thing you know you’re being swept off the track towards some unknown end. So it goes. Though these detours need not be a waste of time, as often enough this step outside your idea of what you should be doing offers you new insights into your own work, helping you to grow and evolve as a person and an artist. One of my personal favorite adventures outside my normal realm of art involved a brief stint with Couture Fashion Week here in New York City.
A few months back a dear friend of mine asked if I would be interested in doing a performance with her. She said that we wouldn't be dancing for too long, and that I would have the opportunity to choreograph something for the event. Of course I said yes, and shortly thereafter I was introduced to the individual coordinating the whole event. I wont give names out of respect for privacy, but this individual has been featured as a longtime performer for Fashion Week, and for this performance she was seeking two dancers to accompany her on the runway during her act. She explained that she needed us to perform a tango section, a tap section, and a swing section. Truth be told I have essentially no training in any of those things, but I was resolute in my ability to be a fast learner. We were given the music and set to work.
I started off by watching a number of videos teaching basic tap, tango, and swing techniques. After absorbing everything I could, I applied my passion for choreography to the project and simply choreographed a tango, tap phrase, and a swing, basing the overarching ideas and steps off of what I had learned by watching. I like to think that I was at least halfway successful in the endeavor, as the individual organizing the performance expressed that they were very pleased with the product. This was relieving to say the least, as it was my first time having to choreograph for the runway, the layout of which is completely different from a stage and therefore required a completely different application of traveling steps.
We arrived at the location of the event (right in Times Square) a little while before we were to go on in order to do a sound check and make sure that all was in its right place. It was interesting to see how differently the show was being run compared to the concerts that I was accustomed to performing in. Everything was very touch and go, with decisions being made on the fly and people acting as their own managers. As our time to go on approached, I couldn't help by being amazed at the incredible media presence at the performance. An entire section of the audience was dedicated to news crews and photographers. The rest of the audience was seated right along the runway, therefore offering you a highly intimate performance space. This I actually enjoyed, as usually I am performing on a stage which is separated from the front row by at least 20 feet. Another unique element of the performance was working so closely with the musicians who where playing live onstage during the act. The thing to note was that throughout the act we were taking a number of cues off each other which were quite variable, and so it was an excellent learning experience as to being sensitive to the music and to communicating non-verbally with your fellow performers so as to keep the show running smoothly.
Though ultimately I felt that I still prefer concert dance, it was an incredible experience to perform at Couture Fashion Week and get a look at this whole other world that I had never before experienced. It simply goes to show that by stepping through one small door, you may get a chance to see an entirely new world. In the end I can absolutely say that I am a better and more well rounded artist because of the simple fact that I took a chance. And so my advice to you is to go out and take chances of your own! You never know where it might take you.
Juilliard Dance 2020