This is the beautiful outdoor stage that I had the honor to perform on last night for Philadelphia's first annual Founders Day. The venue is the Dell Music Center located in North Philadelphia. The theatre was more like an arena that reminded me of the seating for a baseball game. It has 5,284 seats and can accommodate an additional 600 people on the lawn! The stage itself is open in the front, but the back is connected to a building, so it has a roof that hovers over it. Since this was an outdoor setting, we're lucky that the storms held off until right after the show!
This was my second performance with D2 after only 6 weeks. Donald told us that they normally spend the summer training the "newbies" and they have to wait awhile before they perform, so I'm very grateful that I've been given these great opportunities. Any chance to perform is fantastic, but this performance was big! It included D3 (the youth program), D2 (the second company), Philadanco along with some alumni, and guest artists such as Maurice Hines, Anthony Burrell, Dance Iquail, and Rennie Harris. I shared the stage with some truly inspirational dancers and artists.
The D2 dancers performed two pieces that are in the repertory. The first is called "Music+Style=Jazz". As you can probably tell from the title, this piece is about jazz music and the social dances of that era. Our characters are people in a night club just letting loose and having fun. The second piece is called "Pursuit". As Donald would tell us, "You have to change hats!", meaning this dance has the complete opposite feel from the first dance. We went from sassy jazz club dancers to people trying to avoid death and the end of the world as we know it. Our characters in this piece are fierce, intense, crazy, and in agony. Sounds like a good combo, right? I love this dance because I think it's always fun to do something a little more dark and evil. Maybe that's because I don't normally get to experience that in real life :)
Angela and I in the dressing room before the performance
Performing for a big audience is always nerve-racking, but especially so with D2. I think it's because I've only been in the company for six weeks and therefore, have not had a long period of time to rehearse. I know the choreography enough to perform, but I don't know it in my bones yet. That takes time and repetition, and I know I will be more comfortable once I know the whole rep like the back of my hand because I've done it so many times. It's just like anything else in life; change can be difficult, but you are constantly evolving and growing, and everything becomes easier with time. In fact, I already feel like I'm in the swing of things and thriving in this company compared to my first two weeks of panic, confusion, and exhaustion. I can tell that I pick up choreography quicker than I used to and I hold onto corrections better since the pressure and the standards of this environment are so high.
I am so thankful for the challenge, "tough love", craziness, and occasional stress because it is shaping me into a strong and resilient professional dancer day by day. Despite the difficulties of remembering spacing and choreography, being nervous, and having to dance on sticky marley with feet that are torn to shreds, the show went extremely well. And I think overcoming those kinds of challenges make it that much more worth it. After all the hard work and long hours of rehearsal, it's so satisfying to look into the audience and see all the happy faces and hear all of the enthusiastic cheers.
I don't have any pictures of the performance this time, but both dances were recorded, so I have some snapshots from the videos. I apologize for the bad quality!