In June, ADT and I had an initial conversation where we expressed our mutual desire to work together. After months of discussion, I was offered to dance in the company's world premiere production of Othello. I spent much of my career praying that the big company I danced with would show me the world on tour. The funny thing is that it took me leaving for that to finally happen.
As quickly as I became excited for this opportunity is as quickly as my excitement turned into fear. What had I done? I just committed to 5 weeks in Alaska...in the winter! Not only was it going to be freezing cold, but it was going to be dark. And there was going to be a lot of snow. And isn't Alaska a really conservative place for a liberal dancer that lives a more alternative lifestyle. Also, what about my partner? We've been together for 6 years and we have never spent more than 2 weeks apart from each other. How could I have not taken all of these things into consideration?
As the days got closer, I became more and more nervous. I was stepping way out of my comfort zone. I was going to stay with a host family. I would be dancing in a company with a brand new artistic director in a style that I wasn't familiar with. But, being the person that I am, I always calm my fears by being very open and honest about my concerns. This can sometimes be uncomfortable, but there are some things that you must ask if they are important to you. Luckily, ADT's ballet mistress, Dubraskha Arrivillaga, was very helpful in addressing my concerns.
On January 30th, I embarked on my 15ish hour trip to the "Last Frontier." I arrived late in the evening. This was the first time that I had ever been greeted at an airport with my name on a sign. As we drove to my host family's house, I watched smoke and steam rising out of houses at a glacial pace through the bitterly cold air. It was -15 degrees. All of the roads were snow covered and the city felt a bit more suburb than city.
|Welcome to Alaska Dance Theatre|
We spent the next 5 weeks with Artistic Director, Gillmer Duran, creating his new production of Othello. We took class every day at 9:30 am and rehearsed until about 4 pm, when the school began classes for the day. One aspect of rehearsals that I really enjoyed was that the choreographic process tended to be equal part choreography being set and equal part collaboration. This production felt like it belonged to both the choreographer and dancers. After rehearsal ended for the day, company dancers were also given the opportunity to share their knowledge by teaching in the school.
All in all, the performances went very well. The local audience, which tends to have the attitude of "if it's home-grown, it's not high-quality," was pleasantly surprised. Both shows were extremely well received and very well attended. As a dancer in the production, I was very proud to have the opportunity to share my passion for dance with a maturing arts community. I would not have had this experience had I been tied down to a full-time company. One of the joys of freelancing is that you get to share your art with multiple audiences. Sometimes the audiences are small and uneducated, while at other time they can be large and experienced. In Anchorage, we were teaching a young audience that great dance can happen anywhere in the world, even in the "Last Frontier." This was the most rewarding part of the experience.
|Moose in the ADT parking lot|
|Beluga Point, AK (photo credit: Shalem Photography)|