The last in a series of digital postcards from dancer Priscilla Marrero at the Florida Dance Festival. Photo: Inkub8 team on tour bus back to Miami. From left: Heather Maloney, Carlota Pradera, Priscilla Marrero, and John Beauregard. Courtesy of Priscilla Marrero.
My last day at the Florida Dance Festival began with a homemade American coffee made by Dad. I have spent the last two nights in Clearwater after the performance was over. It has been a different perspective, as I am no longer in the dorms but now commuting to the campus.
I arrived early for my class with Karl Rogers, excited as I knew that I was going to really dance today. My body, mind, and spirit were finally feeling aligned. As I observed the students and musicians entering the building. They prepared themselves for their transformation of the day. The first time we tune into our bodies reminds us where we need to listen to it. This morning I found myself more balanced and centered on the “domes” of my feet, as Karl calls it. Prepared myself with sun salutations and a brisk walk around the USF campus, one I had been wanting to take during my stay here. I found the landscape of the University to be balanced: mesmerizing oak trees layered with Spanish moss, water fountains, and squirrels, ducks, birds, and puppies running around! I could see why students would enjoy their time here.
On Wednesday for our performance day we began quietly. My roommates and I prepared ourselves both mentally and physically. Carlota and I walked together towards our class and observed the silence in the air. After class the team went to work the piece into their bodies for the first time of the day, while I prepared myself by rehearsing my cues. I felt confident in the cues as I have worked as the Stage Manager for Vertical Sprawl when they performed at Inkub8.
However, there are always surprises…which is what makes the theater world so exciting.
The backstage crew for the USF theater rocks. They were so helpful, attentive, and enjoyable to work with. The piece has many technical elements — such as cameras and projections — which makes it a beautiful blend of technology and art. As we prepared ourselves for showcall, the lighting board operator and I enjoyed each other’s conversation, making it a relaxing state for what was going to premiere.
As the show began, Bill Doolin, the Director of the Florida Dance Association, elegantly welcomed the guests to the theater and the performance. His graceful demeanor reveals his beauty as a dancer now as a director. I would have loved to see him dance. The night opened with Full Radius Dance followed by Vertical Sprawl.
While I was calling my cues, I could feel the connection between myself, the performers, the crew, technology- the audience, the space…..we were together, present. There is nothing more magical than live theater…to completely remove yourself from the outside world and center in to the present. Thank you for that.
Once the performance ended- it gave the desire for more. The next day we had feedback from the students on how they truly loved it- I could see it in their eyes that they really meant it. I must admit though- I was a little disappointed in not seeing more students in the audience. Even though we had a nice intimate house, it is important for students to go to performances. Don’t they know how important it is to watch, learn, and be present for performances?
Our evening ended with a nice celebration and good feedback. I could see that the team was happy and relieved- they were truly smiling. The next day we wrapped up our rooms and headed to class. We moved together for the last time on the trip- enjoying the company of each other as well as with other movers. We finished our day with a colorful meal filled with new spices. As I asked the team on how they felt about their experience- Carlota mentioned how she was happy to share time with each other- ” We got closer”.
As I waved goodbye to my friends, I wished them well on their drive back on our “tourbus” as John called it. A bit saddened by the ending of journey- but excited for the last couple of days of class.
Now as I sit in the student center writing my last entry for the blog- I can honestly say that this festival has once again been a memorable experience. I couldn’t help but notice a group of students sitting together from the festival. Some familiar faces from last year, with a couple of new ones. When asked to individually say one word about their overall experience at the festival, they excitedly remarked- “Soreness.” “Progress.” “Wet.” “Commitment.”
As a contrasting group in age and backgrounds, the students concluded on how they felt the faculty was lovely and really diverse. They mentioned how they enjoyed the challenge and the insightful corrections from the intimacy of the class sizes as opposed to other summer workshops they had participated in. They included on how everyone was really nice and not competitive towards one another. As two students who came back from last year, Olivia Goodfriend and Melissa Kopel, both agreed on Kopel’s answer to her reasoning for her return: ” I really loved the faculty. In just two weeks, I just improved so much.”
As I spoke with a sophomore of the USF dance program and first time work-study for the festival Jenne-Elise Galluzzi, she only confirmed their impressions. “I love it. Energy is great. It feels like everyone is working together. The atmosphere is nurturing. I have never done a festival before as my background is normally competitions. I feel like it is a really good place to grow.”
Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Galluzzi danced in a private studio in Miami. She observed that the landscape of the school feels organic. ” I know it’s silly but I can see the trees rooted here have organically grown. Not from a factory that was planted. It gives the feeling of life as opposed to being industrial.”
I agree with you Jenne-Elise, like the landscape of the school, my experience at the festival feels as organic and authentic. Everyday I learned something new about myself- as a person, mover, and techie. As Karl connected in class today- “Remember that we are people first, not machine-like technical dancers”. Gracias, Karl.
Just like a homemade fresh mango sorbet with a little something warm inside. Delicious.
On a personal note- I thank you, the reader, for joining me on my experience. Hope to see you around.
Until next time…
Much love always,