Hubbard Street 2 Dancers getting ready to perform.
I’m not sure how we neglected to update our Tumblr on our trip to New York City! This is the one tour we had been talking about all year long and it came and went so quickly. There was definitely a wild mix of emotions surrounding our extra long weekend in Garden City, New York. It was in more ways than one, the beginning of the end as dancers of the 2011-2012 Hubbard Street 2 season. This was the last time we performed together as this group of six. In case you didn’t know already, Johnny McMillan was promoted into the main company and has already finished his third work day as a main company dancer. Nick Korkos is also leaving us at the end of this season, having completed two phenomenal years with the second company already. It’s sad to see them go but I am so excited to welcome new faces into this crazy group of kids. Our program at Adelphi was the same as our Wichita program. THE HARDEST FREAKIN’ SHOW EVER! This is a very difficult experience to put into words… I love this group with everything I have… props to Taryn for bringing us together.
HS2 Andrew Wright blogs about HS2’s tremendously rewarding residency in Stevensville, Michigan
Again, its hard to believe that an event that we have been waiting for all season long has so quickly come to pass. Last week was one of the most rewarding experiences of not only my dance career, but of my life. And I think that it’s safe to say that I can speak for all of the dancers of HS2 when I say this.
Working with the students of Lakeshore High School this past week in Stevensville, Michigan was so absolutely exciting, thrilling and rewarding. The Company took turns teaching the Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced dance classes and worked as a team to create a new work for the Advanced dancers, which opened up our show at the end of the week.
In the classes we focused on bringing improvisational techniques to the students. Most of the time we worked from Forsythe improv techniques, but I think it’s safe to say that in many of the classes we brought our own individual styles and exercises. I think Johnny and Ali even brought in ‘Bear Dancing’ from our piece sad monsters created by Maurya Kerr on our last residency in North Carolina. To see the willingness and openness of the students to participate in class was wonderfully rewarding.
However, I think that I can speak for the whole Company when I say that working with the Advanced dancers to create a new work was the highlight of the trip. At the beginning of the process we taught the students sections of Johnny’s piece Path and Observations - it was a whirlwind day and many of the students looked pretty rattled by the end! However, by the time Tuesday arrived, the students were gaining confidence in the movement and we were off to a good start. We developed the piece by helping the kids manipulate Johnny’s movement to create sections of the new work.
By the end of the week we had a full six-minute piece that was so much more than we could have ever hoped for. The kids took what we gave them and really gave it heart, making it something so different from what we started with. We ended up naming the piece We Climb the Cherry Tree, which I think is totally appropriate for the experience. The piece opened for our show on Saturday night and it was the absolute best time we had seen them perform.
I have to give a huge shout out to these dancers, if they stay as open and willing to learn as they were this past week they will all go far in life, no matter their individual path.
A few more shout outs to the people of Stevensville:
Theresa Graziano, director of the Berrien County Dancers and mastermind behind this teaching residency. This woman is truly a wonderful mentor and the definition of what a teacher should be. She built the dance program from nothing over the past 11 years and is the heart and soul that holds the program together. She raised all of the money to pay for the residency through fundraisers over the past two years, which is a testament to how dedicated she is to the learning of her students. She is a true gem of a person. Thank you for everything.
The Sanders family, our host family that made sure our stay in Stevensville was not only comfortable, but fun! Your house is beautiful and made Stevensville our most comfortable stop on our tour. Your hospitality will never be forgotten. Thank you all.
All in all, Stevensville was one of my favorite stops on our tour thus far. It was rewarding, exciting, thought provoking, and a true learning experience. Thanks Stevensville, you will be missed!
HS2 just completed a three-week residency at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with choreographer Maurya Kerr, who won the 2011 National Choreographic Competition. Kerr created a piece for HS2, who learned, rehearsed and performed the piece along with UNCSA dance students. Ali Delgadillo reflects on the residency
And just like that, our second and final residency of the season has come to an end.
Ironically, The End by The Doors has just come on my iTunes shuffle: “Can you picture what will be so limitless and free?” Although most likely taken out of context, I’d like to attach those lyrics to our experience in North Carolina.
I think I speak for all those involved in this process when I say that working with Maurya Kerr has been one of the most personal, challenging, groundbreaking and rewarding three weeks of our lives. I can’t recall a single rehearsal in which we were not pushed past our limits. “There’s always more,” she would say. “Challenge your technique.” “Go further.” “Go deeper.”
I don’t know how it was possible for me to have never thought of these things before. My dancing and the way I approach it is forever changed. After learning from her, I do feel limitless and free. It’s actually quite astounding….and comforting. There is no more second-guessing myself when I move. I am so happy to have been able to share this experience with so many other talented dancers.
This trip was also somewhat of a homecoming for me. I grew up in Charlotte, just one hour away from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I attended my very first summer program there and auditioned for many more in their studios.
It was like all my worlds had collided when we arrived in Winston-Salem. I was reacquainted with old friends, dance teachers and more. Their yearly festival of dance took place during our last weekend there, and I was flooded with memories of my 13-year-old self running from class to class soaking up all I could. I have literally come full circle at this point and am thrilled to have been a part of a life-changing experience for all of the younger students that I once was.
I do believe that what made our goodbyes so difficult was how close we became with each of the 14 students who partook in this piece alongside us. This process was very different from our first at the University of Iowa. Maurya encouraged us to work directly with the students, coaching them on the technical aspects as well as deriving underlying meanings behind every moment throughout the piece. We became friends and supported one another through ups and downs in just three short weeks.
Once the piece was finished and full run-throughs had begun, I was continually inspired and touched to the point of tears after witnessing the growth of these individuals (some of whom are my same age). The growth and maturity by the end was exponential. Knowing that my co-workers and I aided in that is so insanely rewarding.
HS2 in the studio with dance students of UNSCA
Hubbard Street 2 in Detroit
Dance is a way of life for Lissa, and she’s thisclose to truly living her dream. Read about everything she’s sacrificed to get here — and why she’d rather be here than anywhere else.
Lissa Smith, HS2 Apprentice. Photo by Cheryl Mann
I’m not sure when it began, but I know that I never want it to end. I didn’t consciously choose to be a dancer; I think it chose me…snatched me up in the middle of a dream and delivered me to a place that I never want to leave. Dancing is the only thing that I have ever wanted to do. I am at home on stage and in the studio. It is truly my sanctuary, my domain. It is the place where I can genuinely be me.
Dance challenges me each and every day. It pushes me to go above and beyond what my mind thinks I can and cannot do. There is no such thing as a limit or boundary. The art of dance defeats every ounce of self-consciousness or fear. It displays and speaks the truth. For me, dance is the state where anything is possible, where anything can be done. I envision myself free of any restraints, becoming a canvas of endless possibilities for any choreographer. I am both the creator and the vehicle for another’s creativity. All of my words come to life through dance. My thoughts become actions and my conversations become movement. It is said that action speaks louder than words, and for me, movement speaks louder than anything.
Artistic energy is contagious; it spreads like wildfire when artists gather. When I dance, I become part of the music. I am the tempo, the beat. My mind and body come together in this perfect place that combines spiritualism and catharsis. I try to visualize myself as a sponge, where every fiber absorbs every nuance and every crevice soaks in every detail. There is no state of exhaustion that doesn’t awaken and revitalize me.
At the end of this past summer, as I was getting ready to go back to The Boston Conservatory to start my junior year, I was offered the apprentice position with Hubbard Street 2. I flew to Boston, rented out my apartment, withdrew from school, moved to Chicago, and never looked back. I left my friends and my familiar world behind in the blink of an eye. I’m not going to pretend that it was easy, but it was worth every sacrifice that I made. I am exactly where I am supposed to be!
I am experiencing dance for the first time as an occupation and I’m on the cusp of living my dream. I am so grateful. How many people can honestly say that they do what they love and love what they do, every single day? Endless inspiration and steadfast determination ebb and flow within me and constantly surround me. It always leaves me always wanting more.
- My nickname at Hubbard Street is “Cricket.”
- I was born and raised in Miami, Florida.
- I have a sweet tooth for frozen yogurt and Swedish fish.
- My hands have an orange glow from eating too many carrots.
- My curly hair has a mind of its own.
Lissa Smith Tweets at @Lissa_HS2. Follow her!
Lissa Smith, HS2 Apprentice
HS2 dancer Felicia McBride loves travel, asking questions and the satisfaction of preparing her own meal. Read the story of this joyful, dancing optimist — in her own words.
Felicia McBride. Photo by Cheryl Mann
I’ve been moving and stretching my body to the limits ever since I can remember. I started gymnastics at age four and quit nine years later. My coaches always said I could dance well, so when I quit they suggested I try ballet. Fast-forward ten years to today, and I’m dancing for one of the top companies in the country. I honestly couldn’t ask for anything else…
Being the youngest of four siblings and growing up in a loud and crazy house I had to speak up to be heard. To this day, someone is always telling me to lower my voice, or to just stop talking in general. I’m a true Sagittarius. I like to talk about things, everything and anything. Most of the time if it’s in my head I’m going to say it. I’m a “glass half full” kind of girl. I can turn bad situations into good, make lemonade out of lemons, if you will. It’s really just about how you look at things: why be negative when you can be positive? I’m also goofy, oh boy am I goofy. And laughing is probably the most fun thing in the world to do! I tend to ask a lot of questions too. I was always the girl in class who had her hand up. Like I said, if I don’t know something, I’m going to let ya know so I can find out!
Food is one of my all time favorite things, besides dancing of course. I look forward to the time of day that I get to eat something, whatever it is. I get excited over the smallest bites of something absolutely delicious, whether it’s a PB and J or a piece of fancy cheese, it’s still food… and I love it! I like to cook most of the time. I love to make my own stuff from scratch, like fresh pizza dough or my own soup. There’s something so gratifying about sitting down to a plate of food that I made all on my own. But when I decide to go out for food it’s always an adventure, one where I can try something new and yummy. Maybe one day I’ll be a food critic…
I love people too. I love to meet new people, learn about them, figure out who they are. Maybe that’s why I like to travel so much. Everywhere I go I make a goal of making a new friend. I could also like traveling because growing up my parents moved my family quite a bit, and once I moved out of the house for dance I just kept moving. Traveling is exciting for me. Being in a new environment with new people and new surroundings keeps me feeling fresh. It teaches me more and more about myself and the person I want to be. That’s one of the best things about performing, I feel like I can be anybody I want, have any personality I feel like having in that moment. And when I get off the stage I’m me again.
My life right now is absolutely wonderful. I am getting paid to dance all day surrounded by inspiring, caring, real, talented, funny and incredible people. I’m living in this amazing city, I’m healthy and alive. I’m happy. I honestly couldn’t ask for anything else…
A few split-second decisions at pivotal moments in his life led Andrew Wright to Hubbard Street, where he dances with Hubbard Street 2. He shares the story of his own “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” path to life as a professional dancer — and a few lists that define his extraordinary character. Enjoy!
Andrew Wright - Photo by Nick Korkos
Dance has always been one of two constants in my life. I grew up in a family that often moved, thus being a dancer as I was growing up completely defined who I was as a person. It is something that I can always trust to push me beyond what I believe to be capable, soothe my soul when I am unhappy, make me laugh, make me cry, and make me sweat. I always know that when I enter a dance studio I will leave it a better human being than I was when I entered. This is the most comforting feeling in the world.
I am a true believer that life is kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel; many paths are laid out in front of us and that it is our decisions that help us to arrive a certain “checkpoints” in our lives. There was one point in my life that I was ready to stop dancing and a twenty-minute drive to pick up a friend from a rehearsal resulted in a renewed love. There was another when a last minute decision to audition for Point Park University resulted in my pursuing a degree in dance instead of medicine. And there was a time when a split-second decision to audition for the Hubbard Street Summer Intensive instead of Cedar Lake resulted in my getting the job of my dreams. So what I have learned from this… trust your gut, people, because you never know where life will take you.
So, it has proven exceedingly difficult for me to write about myself. So instead of continuing to struggle writing long-winded paragraphs, here are some bullet points about me. We will call it “Andy in 10 Items or less.”
- Avid DVD collector (but only $5 movies from Target or my favorite used movie store The Exchange).
- I am a laughter enthusiast and believe that any problem can be solved with a good laugh.
- I’m a romantic
- I love the Food Network – my favorite chefs are Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis.
- Pittsburgh is the first place that I ever called home, even though I didn’t move there until I was 18.
- My favorite place that I have ever traveled to is Paris, France. It is magical and everyone should visit.
- My mom, dad, and sister are my three best friends. I love them a lot.
- I still pinch myself at least once a week and thank the world for bringing me to Hubbard Street.
- I am a Libra through-and-though and a total optimist.
- When I am done my career as a dancer, I want to join the dance faculty at a conservatory such as the one at Point Park and eventually run the program.
So here I am in 476 words according to my word counter. Below I am going to list a few more of my favorite things, just in case you wanted to get to know me just a little better.
Love. Dance. Laugh.
- Color: Eggplant and Forest Green
- Album: Bon Iver by Bon Iver and Gossip in the Grain by Ray LaMontagne
- Movie: American Beauty
- Designer: Frankie Morello
- Dance Moms cast member: Kristi… she is hilarious
- #1 Played song my iTunes: I Don’t Feel it Anymore (Song of the Sparrow) by William Fitzsimmons
- Book: The Harry Potter series (choosing one is like choosing a favorite child)
- Season: Autumn
- Television Show: The United States of Tara, Dexter, Game of Thrones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Photo by Quinlan Kyp-Johnson
Andrew Wright offers an expression of intensity as he dancers Penny Saunders vaudeville/sideshow-inspired work Bonobo. Hubbard Street 2 Dancers, Emilie Leriche, Andrew Wright and Alicia Delgadillo.
Emilie Leriche Photo by Nick Korkos
It’s hard to find the right words to introduce myself, though I suppose it’s hard to get to know anybody through only words. While first imagining my “get to know a dancer” blog post, for some strange reason the first thing that popped into my head was something like the description of someone one would find on a dating website, “Hi, I’m Emilie, and I like long walks on the beach and the wind in my hair.” Something cheesy like that. But this is certainly not the time, or the place… or is it?
For the sake of “getting to know me,” (and maybe to lighten the mood a little bit from Nick’s post), let’s just take that idea, and run with it.
Hi, I’m Emilie, and I like long walks on the beach and the wind in my hair. But maybe not too much wind, my hair tends to be in my face regardless of the situation, throw the wind in there, and I might as well not have a face at all. Similarly, sand in between my toes is wonderful, I suppose, but give me some Marley and a wide open space that I can dance around in, and I’m as happy as can be. I love that feeling, the way your toes can grip the floor, it’s grounding and liberating all at the same time. But I’m getting off topic, aren’t I?
I like animals, specifically cats, not really dogs, but Nick Korkos has this strange and intense adoration of anything that barks so it’s rubbed off a little bit. There’s a running slow loris joke in HS2 all because of that ridiculous video that went viral a while back of someone tickling a loris and it’s maybe the cutest thing in the whole wide world. But each of us have our own crazy (and probably not too accurate) impression of a loris, it’s pretty silly. Can’t help but appreciate the fact that I work with such equally hilarious and talented individuals. But again, I’m off topic…
Clearly I’ve lost my train of thought; that happens to me sometimes, though, losing things, specifically myself. I’ve lost myself for hours in book stores and libraries, there’s nothing like a good story to transport you somewhere else for while. Play me some good music, and I’ll get lost in that too. A mind is a good place to wander sometimes; I spend a good amount of my days lost in thought. Actually, come to think of it, leave me anywhere in Chicago, and I might actually be lost; my sense of direction is embarrassing… to say the least.
Well, as I write this, it’s officially passed midnight which means, firstly, this post is late (lost track of time…), and secondly, that I should be asleep. We have our third show tomorrow, here we go!
Blog post written late Friday, January 21
Photo by Quinlan Jean Kyp-Johnson, in Clébio Oliveira’s the fantastic escape of the little buffalo