|Smedley St in south Philly|
|Rehearsing Othello with PNB soloist Lindsi Dec|
2. Having the opportunity to dance as a principal guest artist with Rochester City Ballet in Leverett's The Nutcracker. I have danced the grand pas de deux in The Nutcracker multiple times with schools as a guest artist, but never with a professional company. Throughout my career, I sat in the wings in my Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Marzipan costumes watching other dancers who had the opportunity to perform along with live orchestra to this iconic piece of music with balconies of theatre-goers falling into the holiday spirit. This was my first time performing the grand pas while leading a company of professionals. On top of that, I got to reconnect with an old friend, Jessie Tretter, whom I had met nearly ten years ago when I was an apprentice with Houston Ballet and she was in the academy. All-around an incredible experience!
3. Being accepted into people's homes as if I was a part of their family. Two of my favorite experiences this year happened far away from home. Anchorage first, then Providence. I had many great host family experiences this year, but these two topped the cake. I was nervous to spend 5 weeks in Anchorage, let alone in a strangers house. This was my first time spending more than a week or so in somebody's space. My Alaska host's were kind, generous, and, most importantly, spatially aware. They gave me a warm home, great conversation, and plenty of space to feel like I had my privacy. My Providence host family didn't know it, but they came into my life just when I needed them. I had recently experienced a great loss and was desperately in need of support and a nurturing environment. We spent so many hours sitting around the kitchen sharing stories, debating topics, and just being familial. My host mother was an amazing chef, my host father was such a gentle spirit, and my host sister was too witty to pass up on a conversation. Her adopted big brother is proud of her progress at the Joffrey Ballet's trainee program since her graduation weeks after I left.
|Driving down the streets of Anchorage|
5. Getting to visit NYC dozens of times. I was raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. By the time I was 15, I was taking the train to NYC regularly to take classes. By the time I was 18, I was living and training at the School of American Ballet. Once I moved to Houston, then even further to Seattle, my love affair with New York was put on hold. After a year or two in Seattle, I started to miss NYC more than you could imagine. Not only did I miss the city and it's energy, but I missed the connections and the feeling of community in the dance scene. Now that I am living in Philly again (in the city this time), I can easily decide on Friday that I want to go into the city on Saturday, buy a cheap bus ticket, and make a spontaneous trip to my second home.
|My first time at the Boston Opera House|
7. Throwing my networking event for freelancers, Contact. I am relatively new to freelancing, only having entered this world full-time back in April. I have learned a lot quickly and grown my network just as quick. One thing I realized as I started getting in the flow of this blog was that people were starting to look up to me for my knowledge, experience, and clout. After I recognized this, I decided that I wanted to do something about it. Along with my good friend, Bennyroyce Royon, we were able to put together an extremely successful event, in two weeks no less.
|Dan at Niagara Falls on our day trip from Rochester|
9. Dancing the La Esmeralda and Le Corsaire pas de deux in a gala. I hadn't performed a classical pas de deux onstage since 2006 when Mara Vinson (former PNB principal) and I danced the Don Quixote pas de deux in First State Ballet Theatre's Arabesque Festival gala. While dancing at PNB, my rep of leading roles mostly consisted of contemporary works. By the time I had left, I truly believed that I couldn't perform a classical pas de deux well (variations included). Well, I proved myself wrong with these performances. Now, when approached with classical work, I gladly say sure, instead of doubting myself with a demure yes.
10. Connecting with, sharing, and collaborating with amazing artists. One of the reasons I left PNB was because I felt greatly isolated from the dance world. There were great artists in the company and a few in the dance scene, but there was also a level of social climbing and social class in the small network of dancers. Beyond my event, moving to Philly and being in NYC a lot have given me great opportunities to network. The dancers are more open to wildly intriguing (sometimes bordering on nuts) possibilities. But beyond the dancers of the mid-atlantic/northeastern dance scene, those that I met at my gigs really inspired me to think in the box, out of the box, and wherever that next step is outside of that out of the box.
|My very first partner, Katie Moorhead & I reconnecting at Contact|
12. Creating this blog. I used to blog when I was a member of Myspace. I was in my early 20's and experiencing a lot of new things in life. I guess you could say I was a little dramatic. Well, I blogged openly about whatever I was feeling. I got a lot of criticism for it, but over a year or so I wrote over 400 blogs and had about 20,000 views. I have been meaning to start a blog again ever since Myspace exploded with spam and I quit the network, but I couldn't find the inspiration. Finally, I found something that inspires me enough to write about regularly. Since I started this blog in my Providence host family's window seat in April, it has received nearly 7,500 views, been shared by another publication, gotten me work, and inspired me to move this resource from the internet to a public place where freelancers can connect with one another.
With that said, I would like to wish each and every one of you a wonderful holiday season. And thank you to all of you who regularly read my blog! This blog is my pride and joy and I can't wait to continue writing for you in the coming year! Cheers! L'chaim!