This weekend is the performance of my Senior Dance Thesis. It is all coming to a close, and I can’t believe it’s happening. This project officially started in September of 2012, when I started meeting with my adviser, creating movement and getting together with my dancers to rehearse. But this project has been in my mind for longer than that, and reflects not only present work but all that I have been through ever since arriving at Bryn Mawr as a young, excited and naive freshmen in September of 2009. I have learned and grown so much since then. It’s because of my experiences in the past three and a half years that I was able to take on this project, and it has meant so much to me because of that.
As this cycle comes to an end, I find myself with mixed feelings. I am so excited for the performance, which will be the epitome of all of our hard work over the past 6 months, and part of me is really relieved to get it all over with, but I also find myself with feelings of nostalgia. Being involved in a project of this capacity which involves artistic creation and well-developed organizational skills in order to put on a show is extremely difficult but also really rewarding, especially when you are working with great people. I cannot express how thankful I am to have been a part of this with the two other choreographers, Antonia Brown and Christopher Flores, who are my dear friends and companions in dance. Even though collaborating can sometimes be tricky, our affection for each other and undeniable commitment to the project made it so that we stuck together throughout this whole process. We have had some amazing moments of laughter, discovery, and companionship. It’s because of this spark, these spontaneous moments when an uplifting energy just takes over the room, that I looked forward to rehearsals. And making dance, making art, making something you have never made before itself is such a wonderful thing.
This project would not have been the same without the involvement of the people who were present in it. Our two mentors and advisers, Linda Caruso-Haviland and Mady Cantor, who are the greatest example of dedication and teamwork and who are always there with anything we might need, our dancers, who were critical to the development of this creation and without whom our artistic visions would have literally been impossible to perform, our tech crew, who were eager to do whatever they could with what they had in order to give as much of the design as we were asking for, Karl Allen and Angela Dowdy, who made it possible for us to use the Hepburn Teaching Theater, the first time this space has been used for this project (in the past it was the Pembroke Dance studio) therefore allowing for a show of a more professional caliber, and the support from SGA and the E. Clyde Lutton ’66 Memorial Fund for the Performing Arts & The Hurford Center for Arts and Humanities at Haverford College. All of these people made this show possible, and we are so grateful for their support.
I also will never be able to forget the support I received from my friends and family throughout this endeavor. It was a difficult and often painful experience, as it can sometimes be when it comes to art, and they were there in my darkest moments to offer nothing but kind words and to pick me up from the floor. I struggled a lot with this project because it was particularly personal. I went through a series of ideas and changed and cut so much material in order to get to the final version. I had to shed the superficial layers and dig in order to find what was deep within, to find what I had been searching for. It took time, energy and patience (a lot, a lot of patience) but now at the close I am so glad I didn’t give up. I am proud of myself for owning up to the commitment and I can definitely say it has been worth it. I had to learn to let go and really look at what was essential, and I feel as though I have grown so much because of it.
As the performance approaches and this process comes to an end, I am ready to show my piece, to give this baby that initially began with me but soon after grew on its own out into the world, out into existence. There is nothing as real and as present as what happens in performance, which is why it’s such a wonderful experience. You have to take it in as it happens, because the beauty lies in the moment, which disappears as quickly as it comes to life. Watching the DVD recording doesn’t even come close to what it’s like. This is why I am exhilarated at the surprise I received this week: my sister, who is currently living in Brazil, suddenly let me know she was going to be present at my performance. My parents will also be there, which means the world to me. Nothing means more than the presence of my loved ones witnessing this moment in my life, a highlight in my journey to becoming artist.
Art is an interesting thing. So many people think of it differently–both artists and non-artists. What art is, what art/artists should or shouldn’t do….the debate never ends. But in that way, art is also limitless in what it can do. I saw a dance performance this weekend by the Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane dance company and before the show we had the privilege of being part of a Q&A with Bill T Jones himself. As cliche as this sounds, it was such an inspirational experience, to say the least. Bill T Jones spoke with so much assertion and meaning that I am surprised if anyone in the audience wasn’t captivated. No matter if you agreed with his ideas or not, you knew that you were in the presence of a real thinker, observer, scientist of movement, of life, of art–a true artist. There is no greater feeling. At that moment, I was filled with the most wonderful feeling of fulfillment in that I knew that this is where I’m meant to be. This is what I’m meant to do.
Oh wait, it’s curtain call–gotta go.