Shall We Dance? by Jenn Doubleday
___This card, given to me by the incomparable Mary-E Godfrey, holds a special place of honor on the wall above my desk. I have seen these faces, and others like them, staring back at me at many a rehearsal. This week’s recital rehearsals are no different! Since January, my dance students and I have been learning and rehearsing on SCT’s incredible dance floor, complete with a mirrored wall, excellent sound system, and sprung marley floor. But on recital week, everything changes! They are now expected to do the same choreography on a slick, hardwood floor, under constantly changing lights, in itchy-tickly costumes, and without the benefit of a mirror. All of this, and their teacher can’t even answer their one question. What is this year’s theme?
Shall We Dance. When I first approached this working title I was stumped. In the past, SCT’s Dance for Musical Theatre showcases have been styled around many themes including Broadway, Hollywood, poetry, and most recently, holiday music. However, Shall We Dance breaks the mold, sauntering in boldly without a theme; it might as well be titled Songs Ms. Jenn Likes.
Everyone thought this show would be ballroom dancing, but no! Not enough boys to go around and my tall girls are really tired of pretending to be macho. Then I chose songs about dancing, a few of which made the final cut (Land of 1,000 Dances and Music Box Dancer, for example). Growing tired of the same “dance-even-when-you-don’t-feel-like-it” mantra, I sought yet another direction. I decided to tackle a different dance style with each song; one country western (Some Days), one jive (C’mon Everybody), one lyrical (Let it Go), and so on. As the weeks progressed, the playlist became more and more eclectic.
___At first I felt compelled to apologize for this blatant disregard of tradition, but then these amazing young people that I am blessed to call my students challenged me. “Sometimes you’ve gotta dance to your own music,” they said. And we do! We created our own music for our homage to Stomp, and we choreographed a beautiful canon without any music at all and then found the perfect song to fit it (Life Uncommon). We also threw in some of our favorite trend songs (Royals, anyone?) and some Cirque du Soleil for our newest addition, SCT’s Aerial Silk Artists.
___Once we stopped trying to limit ourselves to a certain genre, we became liberated to dance to our own beat. These precious young dancers may not find a need for grande battements or pirouettes in their grown-up lives, but they will always find the need to be bold. This weekend, as you watch them fearlessly leap, twirl, and climb to new heights, I hope you will enjoy our eclectic mix of music and personalities, and I hope it will inspire you to dance to your own music.