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Why I’m Thankful for Dance

San Francisco Ballet's Jordan Hammond in Erik Tomasson's 'The Nutcracker'.

It’s that time of year when we reflect and give thanks. Dancers have a lot to be thankful for – their body, that they’re able to do what they love, perhaps a supportive set of friends and family. Dance Informa hears from some dance stars on why they’re grateful for dance and all that it has brought to their life.

Desmond Richardson.

Desmond Richardson. Photo by Jae Man Joo.

Desmond Richardson, co-founder and co-artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet

“I am thankful for dance because it has afforded me the opportunity to experience the world, exposing me to a wide variety of dance genres and many phenomenal artists excelling in their respective art forms.”

Kathryn Morgan, YouTube star and former New York City Ballet soloist

“Dance is my way of expressing myself. When I was younger, I was incredibly shy and didn’t have a lot of confidence. Yet, when I danced, all of the insecurity went away. I would try and ‘become’ the music, and dancing was the only way I knew how. Dance is still my form of expression, but it has also become my passion. I am often more comfortable on stage than off! I also love being able to become someone else during a performance. There is such a freedom in telling a story and becoming a character with no fear of repercussion. I am thankful for dance because it is a way for me to express myself and my passion without saying a word.”

Tate McRae, dancer/singer/actress/model

“I am thankful for dance because I get travel to places and meet people from different countries and cultures. Some of my closest friends live in a different country from me, and I met them because of dance!”

Attila Joey Csiki from Broadway's 'An American in Paris'.

Attila Joey Csiki from Broadway’s ‘An American in Paris’. Photo courtesy of Csiki.

Attila Joey Csiki, from Broadway’s An American in Paris, and dancer with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

“I am thankful for dance for multiple reasons. Dance has given me the opportunity to not only travel the world and meet people from many different countries, but I also have learned new languages and cultures because of it. Dance has given me the freedom to work through challenges in life like heartbreak, sadness, stress and passion. I’m thankful to be able to share my artistry with audiences and touch the lives of many individuals.”

Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

“As a kid, I was painfully shy when it came to speaking to people, and especially speaking in front of people. Dance gave me a non-verbal way of communicating with many people at once. It is one of the most primal forms of expression. Dance is what connects us to the past, present and future. To dance is to know something about your history, something about people, and something about the endless possibilities that lie ahead.”

Allison DeBona, Ballet West first soloist, @allidebona on Twitter and Instagram

Ballet West's Allison DeBona.

Ballet West’s Allison DeBona. Photo by Eric Ostling.

“There are many ways dance has blessed my life, and it would be hard to name them all, but there is one in particular that has been consistent. I am thankful for dance because of all the connections I have made with other people through dance. As a performer on stage, you pour your heart out every night into what seems like the black abyss (audience)!  However, when you have the chance to talk to patrons or go out and teach young and aspiring artists, you realize that each of us has the opportunity to touch someone else’s life in a positive way. You really can’t ask for more out of a profession.”

Michael Apuzzo, dancer with Paul Taylor Dance Company

“I am thankful for dance because it is the perfect expression of artistry and athleticism. I grew up studying Tae-Kwon-Do and performing in musical theater, both fulfilling my athletic and artistic interests. I found dance to be the right combination of both. I love to jump, turn, balance, partner and travel through space, and I hope to take the audience on a journey with me as a dance. I often feel my movements tell a story, and I am thankful to share my story through athletic artistry every time I’m on stage.”

Jordan Hammond, corps de ballet member of San Francisco Ballet

“I am thankful for the never-ending discovery of beauty that dance provides for me. Dance exemplifies the physical beauty of what the human body can articulate, the depths of beauty between the harmonious partnership of music and movement, and even the beauty that surfaces amiss all of dance’s challenges and pains. Dance is a gift, and I am grateful to discover just how beautiful it truly is every day.”

Amy 'Catfox' Campion.

Amy ‘Catfox’ Campion. Photo by Brunno Martins.

Amy “Catfox” Campion, artistic director of Antics

“I’m thankful for dance because, as Martha Graham so beautifully stated, ‘Dance is the hidden language of the soul.’ I deeply related to the sentiment that dance is a language. We are able to understand more profoundly one another’s struggles, desires and aspirations when we experience dance. Nowhere is this more salient than in a street dance cypher (dance circle). Dancers freestyle, or improvise, and through their movements and their expressions, others are able to share in their feelings. The cypher connects us. We dance together to have a conversation, to challenge, to celebrate and to understand.”

Emilie Gerrity, corps de ballet member of New York City Ballet

“Aside from the fact that I absolutely love being able to perform for an audience filled with people who love our art form, I am also thankful for dance because it is a truly unique way of expressing myself. As human beings, we all have different lives and different things that happen to us on a daily basis. Dancing allows me to explore different areas of myself and dig deeper into the artist that I am and want to become. Sometimes it can be hard to open up, but on stage I have the opportunity to share my feelings and emotions and bring that into my dancing. It is a completely freeing experience.”

Hubbard Street Dancer Andrew Murdock, foreground, with Kevin J. Shannon in rehearsal for 'N.N.N.N.' by William Forsythe

Hubbard Street Dancer Andrew Murdock, foreground, with Kevin J. Shannon in rehearsal for ‘N.N.N.N.’ by William Forsythe. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Andrew Murdock, dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

“I’m thankful for people: teachers, mentors,choreographers, musicians, actors, crew members, clowns, tour bus drivers, lighting designers, people who make good socks, acrobats, rehearsal directors — our family. People guide knowledge, which creates perspective, which influences art. I have been incredibly fortunate to have encountered and collaborated with many people who have open minds and deep hearts. These people have been facilitators in my process of carving out my life’s path. Dance has given me a unique, challenging, strange, and rewarding journey, but above all, it has been beautiful, and I’m thankful for that.”

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

Photo (top): San Francisco Ballet’s Jordan Hammond in Erik Tomasson’s ‘The Nutcracker’. Photo by Tomasson.

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