At the end of the Pre-Professional Summer Program, students gathered around their computers to watch one another in an online showing. Artists Nia Davis and Jada Vaughan (both joining us from New York) were paired together to perform repertoire from Alonzo King’s Tarab. What ensued was a stunning interplay of timing and artistic choice. Mentored by Maurya Kerr, Nia and Jada worked with a group of other students to explore Alonzo’s choreography in greater depth and detail. And despite their small spaces, they made a big statement. Watch Nia and Jada’s work below and read on to learn about their experiences this summer:
How was your experience in the online Pre-Professional Summer Program?
Nia: Everything I thought I knew about dancing and being an artist was completely redefined and reinvented for those amazing two weeks. They pointed out my insecurities and what I’ve been avoiding. But instead of just working around those insecurities, I was challenged to tackle them and get uncomfortable enough to constantly go back to them.
Jada: I started off feeling very anxious about dancing on Zoom again. I spent my first year of college entirely on Zoom, so I was afraid of getting burnt out and not being able to connect with my movement. But I was proven wrong. Even in a small space, I still was able to utilize my surroundings and make things work specifically for me. I even felt connected with my instructors and loved how they focused on each of the students, giving specific corrections to each of us.
How did the LINES repertoire resonate with you?
Nia: It really gave me a deeper insight on the company. Being able to learn two phenomenal pieces of reps from Maurya Kerr and Kara Wilkes still has me in shock. I had the opportunity to train and have private lessons directly from these two beautiful company members. I felt like I was able to experience a fraction of the artistic process that it takes to set rep on LINES Ballet. I had to strip my layers and be completely vulnerable when I learned Tarab and Resin: two completely different pieces that required the same freedom of expression.
Jada: Coming from a modern and hip hop dance background I was nervous to learn contemporary ballet rep. A goal of mine throughout this intensive was to not be apologetic of my movement and who I am. My choreographers stressed the importance of releasing, using our full body with intention to fully give it our all. So instead of trying to change and be something I’m not, I wanted to incorporate who I am and be my authentic self within the rep.
Was there a class or moment that stuck with you?
Nia: Improvisation. I learned that I need to cherish the moments between each inhale and exhale. I always tend to rush through every movement and never want to stop because I believe that’s what makes it exciting. I was absolutely wrong. It’s the pauses, that’s the exciting part and the moments when you see the dancer really breathe and take the space. Not everything has to move so fast; the dancer who dances in sentences with punctuation is more captivating than the dancer performing in a run on sentence.
Jada: While in rehearsal with Keelan Whitmore, he stated, “Even dancing through a screen can feel as if you are able to reach out and spread your energy to someone on the other side of the world”.
Best advice or inspiration you received over the two weeks?
Nia: Share and experiment with your peers and your audience at the same time. There is beauty in not knowing what’s going to happen next and changing the way you approach each step. There never really is a moment where it’s just a “show”; use every moment to investigate your movement over and over again. Whether you’re in class, rehearsal, or on the stage, constantly strive to be uncomfortable in the choices being made.
Jada: Do not hold back but reach your full capacity and show the world who you are as a dancer. Never apologize for being you!
Interviews by Erin McKay
Photography: 2021 Pre-Professional Summer Program students Jada Vaughan (by Matthew Karas, on the left) and Nia Davis (by Alisa Gregory, on the right)
OPPORTUNITIES TO TRAIN ONLINE THIS FALL
Open to artists 18+, Training Ground is a 3-month, pre-professional online program ideal for dancers who want a serious training regimen but may have financial or time constraints. Divided into a 3-4 month season, this program is accessible for international and domestic students alike. No auditions required. To learn more, visit: linesballet.org/training-ground
Photography: Jason Lam
TEENS AT LINES (LEVEL 3)
Teens 3 challenges students to develop proficient technique, physical stamina, and artistic intuition through weekly ballet and contemporary technique classes. It is recommended that students have 5 or more years of dance experience to enroll in this level of Teens at LINES. Open to ages 11-17. To learn more, visit: linesballet.org/teens-lines
Photography: Stephen Texeira