One of the many highlights of participating in Leigh Torlage’s dance classes at Harbour Dance Centre is taking what you’ve learned and applying it in a fun, bold way: Performing the dance routine live on stage!
(Quick shoutout to Moe Brody, one of the Directors at HDC for reading my first dance blog post and offering me some free dance classes!!! Really unexpected and very much appreciated! Moe even donated a few complimentary dance classes to the 10 year high school reunion I helped organize 🙂 Read the whole offering of classes here)
I first took Leigh’s Broadway Burlesque classes during a Christmas Session in 2010. This was 3 years ago!
(Broadway Burlesque, performing to Candyman, by Christina Aguilera)
This also coincided with the Harbour Dance Centre Holiday Open house when every class would showcase their dance style; be it Broadway Jazz, Hip Hop, Salsa or Bellydance. Family and friends could purchase tickets and then participate in a buffet dinner in one of the studios next door. This was fantastic because it gave me the opportunity to have a dress rehearsal in front of a crowd before the official evening performance the next week! I also enjoyed watching the other styles of dance and what you could learn from taking those classes
Prior to these dance classes, my only “stage” experience was when a few of my friends and I were watching a charity dating auction in University. Every time the MC called for volunteers, my friends would eagerly point at me and since they were being obnoxious and drawing so much attention, I would get called on the stage. I was then smoked in the face with a microphone cord while one of the candidates was supposed to be serenading me. The following year, as a participant, I botched my magic trick when my lighter wouldn’t ignite.. so….not exactly the best experiences on stage!
(Student Night! Setting the schedule)
For the actual performance night, Leigh and another classmate Kim (aka the stage manager) arrived early to allow people to practice on the stage for the first time and start organizing the night by determining which groups would go on first. The stage was a lot smaller than the studio in class, so it was good to get a chance to feel it out. Other differences from class: there was no mirror! And we would split off into groups of 3 or 4. Something I picked up later on as I took more classes, was to come early to these performance nights and get more practice time on stage!
(The Venue: Fellow dancers at Centre stage and backstage)
When doors opened to the public, we all headed upstairs to the dressing room. It can get pretty chaotic with all the different groups up there performing to different pieces, but Leigh and Kim kept us organized! There was a section backstage where a couple groups could stand and wait their turn and a bit of room outside the dressing rooms to go over a few last minute routines (although, ideally, you’ve practiced it by now 🙂 )
For my first performance, I had a great support network of friends! They came early, bought a ticket, and sat right at the front so I has some friendly familiar faces in the audience! I think there were 10 of them – lucky me.
(Hanging out with my best friends after a performance – don’t let the venue fool you – no shady people for student night!)
Fake it, ’till you make it
I missed some steps but I was told that you couldn’t notice. Leigh often reminds us that as dancers, we’ve seen the choreography a countless number if times so we’re especially critical of ourselves. But, the audience doesn’t know the intricacies, so just fake it if you miss it 🙂
I’m still surprised by how quickly time goes by when you’re up there on stage. By the end of the progressive workshop, you’ve put in 10 class hours and the 3-4 minutes you’re on stage just flies by. But of course, the things you learn and practice can be taken elsewhere… like your next session at HDC.
Making friends and new shared experiences
One last thing I love about these performance nights is that you get to bond with the other dancers. Usually at class, you’re pre-occupied and then you go home. During this particular evening, you have a lot of time to get ready together, perform for your routine, and then you’re out there in the audience experiencing the evening with the others!
After my first performance, I ended up signing for 2 workshops a week for the next 6 months. Each year I’ve gone back and signed up for a workshop ( usually in the Spring). Had a few injuries that kept me from doing more (plus new hobbies and goals like running, bikrams yoga and bouldering!). I’ll probably sign up for another session in 2014 – they are addicting!