Written by Mariko Nagashima
Photo by Christopher Nelson
Having been involved with DANCE This since 2003, I can say the program has helped shape the artist I am today. It has made my choreography and directing skills more well-rounded and eclectic. My style of dance combines many different genres, many of which I first learned about through DANCE This. Now, 10 years later, DANCE This has become a chance for me to give back to the community that offered (and continues to offer) me so much. Through having been able to teach and interact with the young groups during DANCE This 2012, I can see how truly inspiring the program is to young performers. It offers kids a glimpse into the world of the performing arts and inspires them to continue to learn and perform. I’ve never before seen such a respectful, diverse group of kids, all with such bright eyes.
DANCE This was an amazing opportunity. I admit, I was a bit hesitant when I first received the invitation. I was worried that I could not count on my teammates to take on such a big performance, to learn all of these new dances. We’ve never had any dance training besides Lion Dance Team, and sure enough, it was incredibly difficult. Plus, Daniel Cruz’s idea of using two drums and three Lions challenged me—syncing two drums was hard; this setup would require all of my active teammates. In the end, we managed just fine!
Deciding to participate in DANCE This is one of the best choices I’ve made as Team Leader so far. I had such a blast meeting new people, sharing my culture, and dancing with all of these great people. Best of all, it boosted my teammates’ morale and allowed us to bond more. This event is our highlight of 2012, and we hope more opportunities like this will arise. We wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Photo by Christopher Nelson
In September of 2011, I applied for STG’s Young Choreographer’s Lab. I knew that the end result was an opportunity to create a piece that would be presented in DANCE This; since day one that was my goal. My heart was racing at the thought of my work standing next to renowned choreographers Mark Haim and Sonia Dawkins. I introduced myself to Sonia and remember telling her how intimidated I was to share the stage with her piece. She said to me, “Don’t be intimidated, be proud.”
After riding through the creative process and having my work presented to hundreds of people I feel as if a whole new door to my life has been opened. DANCE This and the supportive artists and directors at STG and
have helped me to realize what a passion choreography is for me. Even though the program has concluded, it seems as though this is only the beginning of a new step in my artistic life. I am truly proud to have been part of such a beautiful cross-cultural experience and hope that my future work will be able to impact an audience as much as this amazing show has. Velocity Dance Center