In our very first year as a company, we submitted to the Palm Desert, Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival. It was the best decision I made that year. The festival was great. We won a return engagement choreography award... which was awesome.. but I think that the most important thing about the experience was meeting and starting relationships with the FANTASTIC people who work at the McCallum Theatre Institute.
I have been back to participate in the Festival every year since 2003. I have submitted five pieces to the festival and the dancers have had a great time performing in the beautiful theatre. But one of the most rewarding aspects of the festival has been being a part of the East Valley Dance Project.
BDer William Lu and I started choreographing for the project together. We have made 6 pieces and worked with over 100 dancers. Here is how it goes... We teach an audition workshop, cast a piece, rehearse 5 or 6 times, and then the dancers perform in front of a packed house (approx 1200 seats) on the McCallum stage.
Here is the thing... for the most part, these are not trained dancers. They are everyday folks. We have worked with an 80 year old named Jack, a mix of college students and many high school students. Actually, for the past 3 years we have centered the work around middle school and high school students at Desert Mirage High School in Thermal.
Some things are changing this year though. William has moved to Holland, so he is not able to do the project. We all miss him, but I do have the help of Kim and Chihiro. They are already doing a great job. We are also working with students at College of the Desert this year as well. This means we have to make two pieces.. yikes!
Its going to be a fast and fun creation and rehearsal process, and I will keep you posted on how it is going. I can’t really express how much I love and appreciate being a part of this project. Creating art with people of all ages and points of view is great... and sharing the power of dance with students of all ages is transformative. I love it.
Rehearsals just started today and continue on and off for the next week and a half. The performance is on Sunday, November 14th at 4:00om.
Wanna come see some really amazing, inspiring people dance their hearts out on the McCallum Stage?
Keep you posted...