CREATE. This word, as small as it is, opens up a galaxy full of possibilities.
I remember being a child, in dance class. The owner of the studio surely taught us how to battement & pirouette, all about technique and discipline, and how important it was to point our toes, but she allowed something more. She allowed us to think outside the box; she gave us the ability to create.
Once per year, as early as the age of 5, she gave her students the opportunity to participate in a studio competition. These dances were to be choreographed solely by her students. They were able to choose their music and costumes, then compete against others in their age group. If they won, they would be awarded a trophy and the privilege to perform their creation at the end of year recital. Little did I know what impact that would have on me. This competition, which happened in one of the smallest of studios, would connect me in a completely different way, to the art of dance. I constantly wonder, if Ms. Margie wouldn't have had this competition each year, would I have even continued dancing?
This didn't occur to me until a few years ago. I was in my 6th consecutive year with the same studio, and felt a plateau. Not just for myself, but for my students. They were learning how to kick, turn, jump, etc. (and doing these things really well), but when it came time to perform, there was a disconnect. First of all, as instructors, I believe there is a certain control we enjoy, plus as choreographers, we therapeutically need the outlet to tell our own personal stories. We choose the music that we love, the costumes that we want, try to translate emotions we have felt, and then hope our students will also miraculously connect to these things. Sometimes it works like clockwork - they really get it - then something magical happens to draw EVERYONE in during the performance.
Other times, it doesn't translate at all - to the kids or to the audience. I found myself reviewing over and over again what possibly could have happened for this to be the end result. My kids wouldn't return to class, parents moved their kids on to other hobbies, and I lost my passion for teaching.
I was certain, at the age of 10, I would become a dance teacher. I knew it. It was in my bones and in my heart. Why could I ever give up on my dream at the drop of a hat? What changed?
Sitting across from someone that came into my life randomly when taking a year away from California, a lightbulb went off. I randomly reached out to an amazing individual who has a dance company of her own in Charlotte, NC. In talking to her, it occurred to me, my passion isn't in teaching the steps, it's in the development of memorable performances, where I, as the dancer (not an instructor), hold the paintbrush and tell my audience my stories. If my passion was sparked because of the involvement my dance instructor gave me, why not do the same for my students? Make each performance about their favorite songs, let them wear costumes that excite them - give them the opportunity to tell their stories.
CREATE Dance Company is just that. A place where students are dancing, but more importantly, they are telling their stories. The first year the company was in existence, I sat in the floor in tears, over and over again, in awe of what my students needed to dance through, and how much they improved technically because they wanted their stories to shine perfectly. I love this is a place for them to do just that.
The future holds so much that I am both excited and scared for, but it is my honor to re-introduce CREATE Dance Company and hope you will join us for a new year!!