As an artist and a creator I actively seek out collaborations.
The first semester of senior year I was met by the largest collaboration to date: planning, promoting and funding for Senior Production: a show that takes place in the Willson Theater at the end of April. Seven senior dancers are chosen to choreograph new works on their chosen cast of senior and junior dancers. The choreographers are mentored through the process and given access to custom made props as well as the opportunity to work with a costume designer to help bring their vision to life. The senior class as a whole works together to produce the event. Every Monday we meet to learn about fundraising, marketing, and the skills required to produce a show. Thus far we have done an amazing amount of work. I have also learned a lot about how to collaborate on a huge project as well as my own strengths and weaknesses as a collaborator.
We started small. The first steps of fundraising came in the form of bake sales. Classmates volunteered to bake or pick up premade goods. We quickly discovered that patrons where much more charmed by our misshapen cookies, than overpriced baked goods purchased on the Upper West Side. We developed a brand and an image for the design of our table and our class motto “Give a lot, get more.” We used this same design throughout the first three rounds of bake sales.
Our largest fundraising attempt came in the form of the Senior Calendar. The calendar has become an exceeding important element of the senior class legacy. There are so many elements to organizing the calendar that it was impossible for one person to take over. In group projects I am usually the girl who would rather do all of the work than take the time to delegate. The senior pro calendar was a lesson in democracy, delegation, and patience!
My class endlessly discussed theme, photographer, concept, mood, and the clothing we would wear for the calendar shoot. Finally we decided that our shoot would be inspired by Renaissance imagery, and photographed by Nir Arieli. After running to Union square to pick up a nine-foot-tall backdrop, grabbing donated flowers, connecting with Nir, and a makeup artist, and a stylist, and baking cupcakes for sustenance during the shoot—we were finally ready.
We entered the Kaufman dance studio on a bright Sunday morning and began to transform the space and ourselves. While some rigged up the large baroque backdrop, others helped our stylist, Odie, unpack her jewels and costumes while others started planning their poses. I sat with the photographer and helped direct the “choreography” of each photograph. The afternoon wore on and somehow we managed to stage, and photograph 13 beautiful photographs. Yet at the end of the day the calendar madness had only just began. Now we had to design, print, and sell 500 calendars.
By the time New Dances came around we had a website to promote our class and the calendars, a presale in the lobby, and as much social media hype in circulation as possible. Somehow we managed to sell every single calendar. We went door to door to offices in Juilliard, reached out to friends and family, and set up a selling stand at all five performances of New Dances. All of this hard work made me appreciate my colleges even more as dancers, and people. I learned about the importance of communication as well as community in a sphere outside of the rehearsal studio. After four years of collaborating on New Dances, and class activities, we had a different type of longterm challenge in the form of Senior Production. For now I can hang a piece of the journey on my bedroom wall, and enjoy the beauty and contribution of my class with each passing month.
Senior Production is April 26-28, and I'm choreographing one of the seven world premieres that will be presented by the class of 2019!
Photos: Nir Aieli and Luca Sierra