This week, Ms. Saunders has asked me to write this week’s Broadcaster post, and oh boy. Get comfy, folks. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel up to Dubai and attend a three-day dance invitational at the American School of Dubai. Organised by Ms. Olga, the dance teacher in Dubai, those three days would consist of classes that would help us develop our choreographic skills, our technical skills and our overall performance as dancers. The schools attending were the British School of Muscat, the American Embassy School of New Delhi, Al Bating International School (that’s us!) and, of course, ASD. There were roughly 40 students attending, and for each different class, we had a different tutor. It was, by no means, a small event!
When we (myself, Ms. Camp and my mum) rocked up on Thursday, I doubt any one of us expected to find what we did. The campus itself was massive. It had six entrance gates! Olga showed us around after we’d been registered, and from there we discovered the theatre. Their theatre is a work of art; fully functional, with flyspaces, proper lighting, sound booths — it had everything. It was a little intimidating, in all honesty!
If the campus alone had me quivering, then that was nothing compared to the first day.
Oh boy. The first day. First up, we had a fourteen-year-old doing our warm-up and she wasn’t kind. She worked us to the core and I’m still feeling it, to this day. It was exactly then that I realised that this weekend was not going to be a gentle experience that would help me to develop my skills. No, this wasn’t a dance invitational. This was dance boot camp, and I was going to suffer.
On our first day, we had Broadway jazz with a lively (if a little too lively) lady named Paula. She took it fairly easy on us, seeing as we were all dying from our first workout. From there, we slit into two separate groups (I was Group #1) and we went on our way to our second class. Our second was hip-hop and if Paula had taken it easy on us, then this lady didn’t. Her name was Megan, and she was a lot more physical than Paula had been. We were fully worked to the core by the end of that class; I couldn’t move my neck for a full-on day afterwards because of all the hair-whipping we’d done in that class. (Think Glee, but angrier and set to a mashup of Jason Derulo and Flo Rida.) From there, we went on to tackle contemporary. I’m versed in contemporary, but this was a whole new kettle of fish. This was sharper and more demanding than anything we’ve ever tried to do, and I learned a lot from it. I’ve learned moves that I’ve now employed in my IB pieces, and I learned to sharpen my movements in a way that I’ve never learned before.
The second day was fairly similar, except for a few minor injuries on my part. (I say minor, but they weren’t. I found out that I have shin splints, a condition where the muscles in my leg are pulling away from the bone, and — well, yeah. Not fun.) I worked as hard as I possibly could with an injury, and when I wasn’t dancing myself into the grave, I was watching the way the other dancers moved. They moved with a kind of anger and rage and power that I, as a classically-trained ballet dancer, find unattainable. They moved so sharply, and with such a bang that they became mesmerising. Their style, so incredibly different from mine, was spellbinding to watch.
The performance was breathtaking. It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve done a proper, honest show, in a fully-functional theatre, and to be able to have that chance again was amazing. I’ve never felt more alive than I did backstage, crying with pain because of how tightly the primary nurse wrapped my knee. I’d do it all again if I had the chance, if I’m honest. Any performer will tell you there’s nothing like the rush of waiting backstage, or behind the curtains, just waiting until you can crawl out into the spotlight and captivate an audience. It’s the best feeling in the world, I reckon. I lose myself in the adrenaline.
To wrap it up, I’d have to say that this was one of the most breathtaking experiences I’ve had this year. It blew me away, how professional and clever these dancers were, and how dedicated they were to their art. It’s inspired something in me, for sure, and I’m absolutely broken that I can’t go next year. If you’re reading this, and you love to dance or have a child that loves to dance, I’d recommend sending them in a heartbeat. This experience will BREAK you, but it’s worth it in the long run and I’d go back and do it without a second thought.