by Andy Jacobs
|Photo Credit: Christopher Duggan |
Courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow Dance
It’s weird, I didn’t think I’d be where I am today after my college graduation. First off, when I started my freshman year at Adelphi, my initial goal of being a dance major was to improve my technique more and audition to be one of Lady GaGa’s back-up dancers. It wasn’t until sophomore year that I had a sudden change in direction, when I had the privilege of being cast in Paul Taylor’s Esplanade and got to work with his second company, Taylor 2, and its artistic director and former Taylor Company member, Ruth Andrien. Since working with them, my eyes and mind were opened to what’s really out there in the dance world. Since then I’ve gathered more interest in the artistic side of the dance world and not just the commercial side. Being a back-up dancer for Lady GaGa would be great and I still have it on my audition list, but right now I’m on a different path in my career.
Today I’m a dancer for two NYC based dance companies, the Mazzini Dance Collective (who’s artistic director and choreographer, Annmaria Mazzini, is a retired Paul Taylor dancer.) and the Amy Marshall Dance Company (who’s artistic director and choreographer, Amy Marshall, is a former Taylor 2 company member.) This summer was my premiere with both companies. I traveled to Allentown, Pennsylvania to perform in the Allentown Freakout Fringe Festival with MDC. I also traveled to Becket, Massachusetts to perform at the Jacob’s Pillow Festival on the Inside/Out stage with AMDC.
This was first time ever being at Jacob’s Pillow and I have to say it was one of the richest experiences I’ve ever had so far in my dancing career. Knowing that we performing on the new stage was such a plus, it was sprung, had bars on the sides and back of the stage, and had one of the best back drops I’ve ever seen. We were told that half the stage was slippery and the other half was a bit sticky cause of the tree sap, but it honestly didn’t phase me or any of the other company members. All we could do was get our warm up gear on and make our way to the stage for a run through.
That afternoon we performed two of Amy Marshall’s original pieces, Riding the Purple Twilight and Dvija. We were told that 700 people were in the audience and that only pumped us more to go above and beyond. One thing that I specifically remember is that during the final section of Dvija the sun was beginning to set and the rays were shining through the trees. That literally completed the picture of what we were performing on that stage that evening. Having that element of nature and surprise was so fulfilling and perfect for the dancers' spirit and the audience's eye. At the end of the performances there was a Q&A session with the choreographer and company. One person asked “Because of the setting of the stage and being outdoors, does that change the interpretation of the movement?” I wanted to answer that question, so Amy handed me the mic and I responded with, “It definitely frees the movement more with being outside. You don’t have the three walls surrounding you, like you would in a theater. By having all this open space you’re able to broaden and expand the movement to a much higher level!”