My most memorable moments in my dance life growing up were those in high school, backstage, right before a show. That moment when somebody would call your name and you'd look over to them with only one eye done with makeup and they'd snap a photo of you with your unfinished face. Heaven forbid, my fake eyelashes were crooked and not fully set, those things were never right on the first try. We'd tilt those long door mirrors sideways on the floor to share because we weren't quite famous enough for a real dressing room just yet. We'd be dressed in big, elaborate ballet tutu's for our full Nutcracker production and right before we were called to stage we'd take one last photo not in a ballet pose, but we'd break it down with our coolest hip hop moves. (And yes, I still have those photos). Before each show we'd circle up and cross arms and hands, connected together as one and said a prayer and hoped for the best. We had worked so hard, we were exhausted at this point running only on adrenaline, countless hours of rehearsal, dreadful body aches and bruises, so many teenage Saturday mall outings we had lost. This wasn't just any ordinary recital... we were there to put on a show. We wanted so badly to just make our audience feel something, anything, because we felt so strongly about what we were doing. We loved and hated each other, we were each others fiercest competitors and each others most loyal and best friends. The audience never knew of our backstage shenanigans and by the time the curtain was drawn and we stepped out onto the stage, we were home, just for those few moments, we were free. The stage grew to be the safest and most comforting place I know.
My goal with Harbour Dance is for our students to have a second home, a place to grow strong, a place to express themselves and feel free to be who they are. It is not about what they are doing but why they are doing it. To say something important to them that they couldn't normally get out in words. To teach them to have a goal and work hard to meet it and to think that way about everything in life. I don't believe in cookie cutters, I want our dancers to be unique, each with their own quirks and giggles. And even for the majority of our dancers who won't do this forever and will go off and do other great things, I hope for some that dance becomes something they can turn to when times get rough, a way to unwind when there are bumps in the road, this safe place where they can go and be who they want to be. But more than anything I want our dancers to walk away from this experience happy, and hopefully, with a box full of silly backstage photos like mine.