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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Welcome to Chicago! Part 2

Yesterday was the first day of the Summer Intensive at Deeply Rooted Dance. All my classes and rehearsals are in the evenings from about 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. Last night was registration, placement and orientation.

I was SO nervous for the intensive all day yesterday. I was convinced that I didn't do enough before leaving to prepare physically, and I anticipated getting my butt served to me on a platter in the placement auditions. It didn't help that I've had this little cold, and yesterday I was feeling dizzy and loopy because of stuffed up sinuses. I think, too, that I was expecting this competitive atmosphere like the So You Think You Can Dance auditions I watch on TV. That scared me, too, because my nerves sabotage me bad enough without the added pressure of other dancers acting snooty and competitive.

I made my way downtown (D lives northwest of downtown) to find the studios. I left really, really early to give myself time to find it in case I had trouble or got lost. Glad I did, because I walked up and down Wabash Avenue looking for the darn address. I remembered something about DePaul University, but couldn't remember if the studio was near or inDePaul, so I went into the School of Law building to ask the security guard. When I asked him if there were dance studios on the third floor, he laughed and said no. I then asked where 218 Wabash was, and pointed in the direction I had started from. Back up Wabash to search for 218. I finally found it and made my way to the third floor.

Deeply Rooted shares their space with Ballet Chicago, so when I arrived, there were ballerinas everywhere. I asked the lady at the desk for Deeply Rooted, and she directed me down the hall and to the left in the back. I got there and told them who I was, and K, the education coordinator for the Intensive, came over and gave me a big hug. I felt SO much better! I couldn't believe the warm welcome - she didn't know me beyond my name and the handful of emails we've exchanged since January. It was just what I needed to calm my nerves.

As other Intensive students trickled in, I met some other students and we chatted as we stretched and prepared for the placement. We were all nervous, but we tried to relax because we were already in the Intensive. The placement was just to put us in a level that matched where we each are, since Deeply Rooted's Intensive is for all levels.

We started the placement with ballet, and it wasn't too bad! The instructor is trained in the Russian Vaganova technique, which I study at school. That helped me relax because I was familiar with it. For the first time in a long time, I actually felt good about my ballet performance! Then we did modern, which had African movement to it, which is what this company is about, which is why I was interested in them in the first place. It was fast and challenging, but I LOVED it and I felt good because I could do the African movement. I'll find out what level I'm in tonight in class.

After placement was orientation, and it was during this time that I was reminded why I chose this company for a summer intensive. Let's see, how do I sum it all up...??? They have a very holistic approach to dance, and they couldn't stress enough that our time here (and in all our dance experience, really) is a process. Being present is so important, and if we remain open, we will learn so much about what we can do rather than what we can't. We will each grow as dancers, as artists and as members of the community at large. The artistic director emphasized the importance of bringing open, positive energy to the studio. One of the teachers told us to relax... they don't view us as cattle or dance-bots that they're trying to make all dance and look the same. They see each of us as individual human beings, each with something to bring to the group and to give onstage.

WOW. I LUV this company... I love their approach, their aesthetic, their philosophy... it's what first grabbed me about the company when they taught a master class at CSU last year in the spring, and it's still exciting me. I am SO excited to be here!!

On the flip side, they also stressed that while they consider us to be part of the Deeply Rooted family this summer, that doesn't mean they aren't going to make us work, challenge us, ask us to reach deep inside to give more than we thought we could. So, the potential of my butt being served to me on a platter is highly likely. Guaranteed, really. And with that, it's time to get ready for six hours worth of class and rehearsal - gotta gather my tights, leotard, ballet shoes, and snacks and water galore. Wish me luck!


  1. YEAAAAYYYYY JESSI- i hope it goes well tonight!!

  2. wow, sounds so exciting!!! oooh chicago makes my heart warm :)
    sounds like a great program you are in too! i'm looking forward to reading your stories/adventures!