Each corner of our community is unique and valuable – explore them all.
To a talented and uninitiated soul,
Emory is home to powerful communities for every interest and every niche. The dance community is the definition of this strength. As you journey through your years in the ATL, it is important to explore every corner of this community. There exists a great divide between dancers that lean toward the commercial world and those that favor modern dancing and its place in academia. Whichever camp you reside in, you will regret it if you don’t test the waters with Emory Dance Company.
The spring semester in Emory Dance Company is an experience like no other. It is not often that you get the opportunity to participate in the unfiltered process of creating a piece. Every piece is molded differently, and watching your peers find their voice through dance, music, and costuming is an amazing way to begin exploring your own voice. You will explore the challenges of creating and participating in a piece, find yourself as a performer, experience varied choreographic processes, and be beautifully challenged at every juncture while making lasting relationships with Emory dancers and with professors.
What separates your dance experience at Emory from others is how involved you will become in the choreographic process. For example, my choreographer was a fellow student and one of my best friends. She came to me often for advice on how the piece feels and looks and what I thought could be done to improve the coherence or aesthetic quality. This gave me an insight into the unique challenges of a choreographer, especially when creating such layered pieces like the ones in every Emory Dance Company show. The layering of these pieces is especially fascinating to participate in. You will often find that the piece begins to have a mind of its own and the end result will often look almost nothing like the movement that the choreographer begins with. You will see this in the pieces that you perform in, as well as the other pieces in the show.
Each week you will have showings in which you can view the progress of the other pieces, allowing you to watch them transform. The choreographer will not enter rehearsal with a bunch of choreography to learn, stage everyone in their places, and leave. They will often ask you to create your own movement, interpret theirs, and provide insight regarding the direction of the work. These requests may be scary as a new member, but be sure to watch the more experienced members for inspiration, and never stifle your own voice.
You will be able to truly find yourself as a performer. Because my choreographer gave us movement and shaped the dance to the dancers themselves, I truly had to bring my own vision in order to contribute. My biggest advice is to take risks during your performance. Because you have to perform four times, the work can become stale very quickly.
If there is one thing that I have learned from my experiences with Emory Dance Company, it is that movement should be alive. Not only is taking risks and exploring the ways different intentions feel on your body the perfect way to keep the movement fresh, but you will also discover new ways to move and put on a dazzling performance.
Every rehearsal is something that you need to approach with your own goals. Your choreographer is not going to hold your hand. This should go without saying, but it’s hard to remember when you are given newfound freedom in a rehearsal environment. ALWAYS be rehearsing,warming up your body, or doing something productive when the choreographer comes into the room. There is nothing worse than the look of disappointment on their face when they see their dancers sitting down or on their phones 2 minutes before rehearsals start.
However, the most important gift you will receive from Emory Dance Company is a community that you can always count on. Starting Emory Dance Company in the fall of my freshman year allowed me to make my first friends at Emory with people that shared my passions, struggles, and understood my inside jokes about bobby pins, and hamstring cramps. I also gained an amazing upperclassmen support network that I think many freshmen are missing in their first years. When I am with my EDC friends, I know that I’m with caring artists and crazy humans, that I can laugh out loud, or that I can have spontaneous dance parties with. I also can’t stress enough how important the relationships with the faculty are. There are very few ways to really and deeply connect with professors in a way that will create a lasting relationship. Emory Dance Company allows you to have a loving and artistic community forever on this campus. Not to be too dramatic, but savor every moment.
Whether you choose to embark on this journey or not, investigate every opportunity our community has to offer, and you will find the keys to maximizing your success at Emory.
Danielle Handel 21C
Ormond Beach, Florida
This article was originally published on the Odyssey website. It has been republished here in-full with the author’s permission. Read the original article by visiting www.theodysseyonline.com/dancers-emory-open-mind.