The last work day of 2017 has finally arrived and I can hardly move an inch in Grand Central station to make that final commute as people hustle with suitcases and packages to make it home for the holidays – the energy is electric. In the New York Dance school scene, this final week has involved a lot of classes to holiday music and Christmas cheer has been in abundance. I’m ever so thankful that Mariah Carey created her “All I want for Christmas” album back in the 90s for this particular week.
Reflecting on the last few months of the year there has been a lot of exciting events happening in the world of Shannon and Dance . Over the summer months and into the early fall I was fortunate to choreograph 54 pieces for the upcoming competition scene. These routines were a mix of solo, duo, trio and group items spanning across genres of Ballet, tap, musical theatre, jazz, lyrical and contemporary – I’m already stressed thinking about ideas for the next season.
Throughout November I taught at 3 different conventions – DC, Dallas and Michigan. I was in charge of teaching the tap, musical theatre, jazz and contemporary at these events and I had a fantastic time in each city. I love conventions because they bring dancers together from different studios in front of teachers that they don’t normally work with for a jam packed day of doing what they love the most – DANCE. I wish Australia had more of these events on offer as I believe they provide such an opportunity for dancers to grow in an environment that is not always available at a regular competition. As a newbie to the states I have enjoyed getting a taste of each new city I travel to and have set up life long friendships with the other instructors on the panel. The Platinum National Dance Experience hired me in my first 6 months of living in the USA and I continue to look forward to the experience every year as a highlight of my work calendar.
In December I travelled with the USA Dance Company to Poland for the World Dance Championships in Jazz and modern. This was the experience of a lifetime and it was certainly an honor to wear a USA jacket and represent the country I have called home now for almost 3 Years (on Sunday to be precise). The group of dancers traveling were among the greatest group of humans I have had the privilege to know, and watching them win the silver medal in the adult jazz category is a moment I will cherish forever.
This competition is a far cry from the regular ones we see here in the states – the pressure is on and it is definitely set up to create an Olympic style vibe for the dancers participating. In some countries dancers who receive medals are treated like elite athletes and granted health insurance and sponsorship – so a lot is at
stake depending on where you hail from. The first major difference is that dancers may compete more than once if they progress to a higher round- in fact several of our pieces competed four times if they made the finals. This involved a full day of competing given that categories often had over 60 entries. It was truly astounding to watch a group of young students who had never been in an environment of this nature push themselves further with each performance to better the last – they took risks and dug deep to fight for their place on the international stage.
Furthermore at the end of each round infractions could be given by the judges if a rule was broken eg.costume was showing too much Skin or in our case of a prop marked the floor “floor damage”. Another moment we won’t forget quickly was the whole US team cleaning the stage in “Its a hard knock life” fashion. Gaining an appreciation for the fact that people from different walks of life view Dance differently has inspired me to become a better educator and it is safe to say I had the time of my life!
So as you can see it’s been quite the busy few months, especially when you squeeze an extra trip back to Australia into the equation. Thus I feel rather victorious making it to my final day of 2017 and very ready to curl up in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of cocoa (or perhaps a sneaky mulled wine).