Wednesday, March 11, 2015
On July 26th of 2014, National Dance Day hit Orlando. It was held at the Orlando Ballet Central Campus (2201 McRae Avenue Orlando FL). The Free event featured 15 classes with 13 styles of dance in 3 dance studios. This was the second annual celebration that aimed to educate, inspire, and promote the Orlando dance community. This event was specially designed to promote progressive development of dancers, celebrate the diversity of Central Florida's dance professionals, and further connect the Orlando dance community. This year’s event encouraged dancers and non dancers alike to participate in a variety of 15 free dance workshops. These classes were taught by local Orlando dance company directors, choreographers and fitness instructors who lead participants through body conditioning, dance technique and choreography at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. National Dance Day Orlando brought opportunities to those who love the art of dance by encouraging ongoing education.
I parked in the Theater parking lots on Princeton and walked towards the dance studios. I've never been inside this dance space before, so I didn't know what to expect as I approached. The dance studios are in a large building right next to the railroad tracks. There were a few dancers standing outside the entrance chatting. I was amazed when I entered. The entry hall was packed with dancers taking a break between classes. Holly Harris who was instrumental in organizing the event, welcomed me. She gave me a quick tour showing me the 3 huge dance studios. Every dance studio was packed. Hundreds of people had showed up to dance. To say that the event was a success would be an understatement.
I settled in, sitting in the back corner of a studio. Sketching a crowded group of dancers, all doing the same dance moves is probably the greatest sketch challenge there is. I contented myself with catching each dancers unique gestures and body proportions. The instructor further complicated the sketch by insisting that dancers in the back rows should move up while the front rows moved back. This allowed everyone a chance to see the dance moves up close and added a sense of panic and chaos to my sketch. I stayed for the duration of the samba class and then packed up my kit. I could have stayed all day capturing dancers but I keep my sketch habit to one a day. Otherwise I'd get lost in the process and never come up for air. Art requires some balance to work its way into becoming a life.
As I was leaving I bumped into Larissa Humiston who is the founder and lead choreographer for Emotions Dance. She was with Taylor Shepherd, who is one of Larissa's incredibly talented dancers. On stage Taylor is fierce and commands attention. They were about to teach a beginning and intermediate Contemporary dance class. Larissa understands the advantages of collaborating with artists of all kinds. I worked with her doing a series of paintings that were projected before each dance piece for a show titled "Art Evolution". It was a very rewarding experience.