Most LINES BFA students start out as young, energetic and beautifully naive artists full of potential. In just four years, they blossom and mature into sophisticated, nuanced, versatile, and worldly dancers. There are few things that these two groups of dancers have in common – but one of them is the chance to work with faculty member, choreographer and past LINES Ballet dancer, Gregory Dawson. Both in the first Fall semester of their freshmen year and the last Spring semester of their senior year, dancers join Gregory in the studio to create a brand new work. This experience creates a circularity for the program and also grants Gregory a unique place in witnessing the journey of these lovely dancers. We asked him to take a moment to reflect on this experience.
What role do you see yourself playing in the experience of LINES BFA students?
Well first I try to be as real as possible so that I may be able to tap into the artistry that garnered the student’s placement in the program. I have found from experience that the students respond more to direct honesty. I believe that they find it refreshing after many years of veiled truths. I am the vessel that transports them to the next level.
What is the change you witness in students from working with them as freshmen and again as seniors?
Having given the students the confidence in their freshmen year by instilling the importance of technique and discipline, my hopes are that this information enables them to explore who they are as artists, but most importantly who they are as human beings. Having tapped into that knowledge, the next step would be using what they’ve discovered about themselves to develop their own personal artistic voices. By the time I get them back as seniors, and adults, I notice a refinement and a rewarding sense of commitment to the voices that they’ve developed.
How would you describe your experience with this Senior class in particular?
This particular class reminds me of our second BFA class in the program’s history. They really appreciate each other and respect each others’ contribution to the process. There is an ease about the 2016 class that seems to mimic the second class. The talent is very special and diverse. As with every class it always seems as if I had them as freshmen two weeks ago. The time flies, this class is very special, my hopes are that they all receive the work that they desire.
What are you most looking forward to seeing in their final performance?
My challenge to each one of the seniors is to stimulate them with choreography that I believe will offer them insight to the next level. I take this challenge very personally and fully understand that enlightenment elevates the spirit. My hope is that they discover something about their voices that is a paradigm and that it triggers something in them that they will be able to retain for the rest of their lives.
Can you tell us a little bit about the work you are creating with the seniors this spring?
The work will be an expression of grace, humility, surrender.
See Gregory’s work both in:
BFA Spring Showcase
April 15 at 7:00pm
April 16 at 3:00pm
Angelico Concert Hall, Dominican University of California
2016 BFA Senior Showcase
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 7:30pm
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
Gregory P. Dawson, former LINES Ballet dancer, received his BA from St. Mary’s College. In 2007, he formed dawsondancesf (ddsf) as an outlet for his choreographic goals and vision. Dawson currently teaches and choreographs for all the LINES Ballet Education Programs.
Photos by Quinn B. Wharton