I apologize in advance to those readers who might follow me on social media. I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with photos and posts these past few weeks and if you’ve had enough, do what I do to Trump supporters and ignore me. I try to remain low-key on most internet platforms but this time I can’t keep quiet. The transformative power of art has re-awakened in me a passion and excitement that I’m unable to contain. Often times as a performer I question how my craft might change someone’s life. I wonder if the ethereal, and sometimes aloof nature of ballet has the ability to influence and enhance society. Living and performing in Utah with Ballet West, I’ve discovered that many of our immediate audience are philanthropists and patrons who are excited by the impressive and visually beautiful technique that we work tirelessly to perfect and finesse for the stage. Their support and encouragement is what allows my company to thrive in a community that is hungry for, and so appreciative of art. There is nothing wrong with appreciating fine art at face value, and hopefully many of them are provided a brief escape from their own lives while watching us dance. As performers, we do what we do for a variety of reasons. Some of us perform to provide that escape, some do it for fame, and others to seek an outlet for self-expression. Some perform to create something beautiful in hopes that they can make people “feel something”, and the majority because we cannot imagine doing anything else. As I’ve transitioned from student to artist, I’ve learned that for me the most important part of being a performer is applying my artistry to make a difference in society. Throughout my career as a professional, there have been moments where I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the power of my craft and my sense of mission. Performing for and teaching the children in Honduras, with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, travelling and performing in Costa Rica through a Juilliard outreach program, and dancing in Turkey in the midst of anti-government protests and opposition, were some of the most special and eye-opening experiences in my life. Understanding and observing first-hand the desperate need for art in these tumultuous environments is what inspires me to keep pushing forward in my career, in hopes that I might shed a small light for those surrounded by darkness. Recently I found myself searching and thirsting for another tangible moment, and I found it in the last place I would have ever imagined…Vegas.
One Night for One Drop is an annual charity gala created by Cirque du Soleil and the One Drop Foundation in Las Vegas. I had the privilege, and great honor of being asked to perform in it’s 4th edition production, Amanzi, A Quest for Water. Since it’s inception, the event has raised over $17million in efforts to provide a sustainable lifestyle and access to clean water for millions of people in Central America, India and Africa. Over 100 artists and creators involved in the event volunteer their time and energy with no monetary compensation or reward. Our reward is so much greater. We can directly witness the result of our participation affecting the lives of people around the world. I worked with some of the most talented, beautiful, unique and multi-cultured performing artists I’ve ever had the honor of meeting. Collaborating with them to create a show to raise funds and awareness for something so important was an experience I will cherish forever. Many of the artists had been rehearsing for over 3 months, coordinating schedules around their own lives and jobs. The week of the show was a whirlwind of early call times, long hours, showings for friends and family, transitioning a Cirque spectacular into a traditional performing arts theatre, and other exhausting and seemingly impossible tasks. It was truly magical how the show came together for one night, and became one of the most successful and profitable night’s of the gala’s four year run. When asked about the gig, most people were shocked that I collaborated with Cirque du Soleil and didn’t get paid. To me, being an artist comes with a sense of social responsibility, one that is sometimes greater than a paycheck. I wish that I could re-live the night of the performance over again but now I know the truth; What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, it stays with you forever….my pointe exactly.
“There should be no dividing line between artistic excellence and social consciousness” Joseph Polisi “The Artist as Citizen”