Fundraising Gala, Flamenco, Future Prospects

Our annual fundraiser was on April 30, and this was the first time I was involved in putting it on- more than I ever intended to be. The first USC Dance gala I experienced was when the program was 3 years old, in 2008 when I performed as a guest shortly after leaving Columbia City Ballet – we had the third annual fund-raising gala on the Koger Center stage after the NYCB performance. The next year, 2009, I was actually enrolled in the university, and the gala and performance were in celebration of opening a new building, a huge accomplishment for the program and Susan Anderson.  In 2010 I missed the gala and the NYCB performance because I was studying abroad, which was well-worth it.  I had become tired of the program and frustrated by my seemingly futile persistence to keep dancing in college.  This year I was ready to be back in the throng of things, yet was not expecting to be one of the organizers of the whole shebang – my work study job in dance department director’s office had already proved to be a far bigger job than the title entailed.

Nonetheless, I was glad to have work. I will refrain from all the details, but putting on a gala to impress and draw wealthy donors is one hell-of- a-lot of work! And exhausting! It would have helped if we were a bit more organized… After seeing all the background, I really learned to appreciate all that Susan has done for the program. In the end, Come Dance With US(C) turned out better than I expected, and we raised a lot of scholarship money for the department.

Unfortunately working at the Dance Department does not necessarily equal dancing more, although I am always “present” and in their view. But that is no one’s fault but my own either…I just can’t do everything! I still would rather be dancing than working in the office…but I have to pay the rent somehow, and at least I am surrounded by it all… I take that back. I’d rather not be surrounded by it all. Detachment from all the drama and stress surrounding the dance world has always been my safe haven. Thaddeus told me in evaluations I distance myself too much from the other dancers and need be more a part of the “group”  – although that context is in technique class, where I try to escape from the monotony of the day. It’s nice to have something familiar I can return to and ground myself in, and take ballet or modern class with respected staff while getting my degree – I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that after I graduate.  I need to not force myself into a desk job or something I think would be a “good decision” after college, because I will hate it if I cannot be dancing. Again, I would rather be dancing…

The best part of the night was the flamenco dancers, Jose de Guadalupe and Rina Menosky. Jose has formed his own flamenco dance performing company, Flamenco Arts, consisting of himself and his partner. His pianist, Richard A. Smith, came with them from Greenville, SC.  As part of my job with Susan, I was responsible for getting many of the guest performers and musicians to come, and I was already excited about seeing real flamenco dancers after my research project on Flamenco dance.

I stood gripping poor Lauren’s arm during their performance.  Both of them were stunning, captivating, fierce, sexy, thrilling, shocking, seductive and powerful artists on that stage.  Their performance fueled the fire in me to learn this newly discovered dance passion. I regret not learning flamenco from my ballet instructors and contacts in Albuquerque growing up, but it’s never to late. And if  I want to find a new challenge in a dance form other than ballet for the future of my dancing life, flamenco holds that challenge.

I have been rolling this over in my head for a few weeks now, and from both the project on flamenco in Dr. Parrish’s class, to watching and talking to Jose and Rina, to my research into Spanish guitar and interviews with guitar professor Christopher Berg, my visit to Spain, background in New Mexican culture, and inclination to use my analytical skills in combination with writing and the physicality of movement, I have decided to gear my Fulbright proposal for grad school in Dance Anthropology. At University Roehampton London in the UK, I could study Flamenco and Spanish cultural dance specifically, as just one branch of my degree. I find various cultures fascinating, but mostly what role dance plays in that. I would love find a job that allows me to dig up culturally rich dance forms, learn to dance it, master to the art form, travel, and write about dance in my adventures. I think I am slowly coming closer to my ideal job… all hypothetical. I wonder who I could find to pay me to write a dancing version of the Lonely Planet? When you see it on bookshelves (or in Kindle websites or whatever) you better believe it was me!

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