Feature Articles

What I’m Thankful for in 2015

Daphne Lee of Collage Dance Collective. Photo by Darius Williams.

‘Tis the season to give thanks and reflect on the past year – all that you’ve accomplished, areas in which you’ve grown, experiences you’ve had, people you’ve met. To find out what some Capezio Athletes are giving thanks for this season, we asked them, “Why are you thankful for dance in 2015?”

Dance Theatre of Harlem's Alison Stroming.

Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Alison Stroming. Photo by Dave Brewer.

Alison Stroming, dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem

“I am forever thankful and grateful for the exceptional training I had back when I was a student at the JKO School at American Ballet Theatre. My training and discipline has carried on with me into my career, and I would not be the dancer and artist I am today without my teachers at JKO.”

“This past year was my first season with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and I am thankful for all of the opportunities they have given me thus far. We toured to Israel and Italy over the summer, which was an unforgettable experience. It is a dream and blessing to be able to tour the world, explore different countries and cultures, and to perform for many audiences. I am thankful every day for being able to do what I love to do and to share my artistry and passion.”

Aaron Turner, So You Think You Can Dance Season 10

“I am thankful for many things. First and foremost, that I am able to travel and continue to spread my love of dance amongst the youth. Having opportunities like conventions and master classes has enabled me to meet many young and excited students who share the same passion as me! I am also thankful for the growth of tap dancing in the public eye. Ever since SYTYCD put three tappers on my season, I have seen a continual growth in tap dancing throughout the media such as Syncopated Ladies, and more and more pieces on national television like Anthony Morigerato and Michelle Dorrance. This eventually led up to Gaby Diaz taking home the title of being the first tap dancer ever to win SYTYCD. I truly believe it is only up from here!”

Kayla Mak.

Kayla Mak. Photo by Chris Reilly.

Kayla Mak, student at Westchester Dance Academy

“I am thankful for my teacher Kelly Burke for teaching me to become a better dancer. I am thankful to be performing at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular this year. This experience has made me very inspired to work harder and grow even more as a dancer and person. I will never forget this lifetime opportunity! I’m also very thankful to Capezio for choosing me as a Capezio Athlete, and to all my friends and family for the love and support they have given me this year. I would not be the person and dancer I am today if it weren’t for the incredible support I received from everyone.”

Kelly Sneddon, artist with Cirque du Soleil, former member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet

“2015 has been a year of transition for me in my dance career, and I have so much to be thankful for! I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to join Cirque Du Soleil and to experience an entirely different creative process. I am especially thankful to be healing from an injury I dealt with this past year. As a dancer, it’s a great reminder to not take our health and bodies for granted. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for me!”

Willie Gomez.

Willie Gomez. Photo by Rick Day.

Willie Gomez, dancer/performer, model

“I’m thankful about being part of one of my lifetime dream jobs, which is performing in the Britney Spears residency show in Las Vegas! I grew up being inspired by Britney and her performances as a dancer, so to be able to share the stage with her all the time in a four-year residency is beyond exciting!”

Daphne Lee, company dancer with Collage Dance Collective

“I am grateful for just waking up every day getting to do ‘demi-demi-grande’ every morning. With all the negative media out there, I’m happy doing something I love and getting to witness Misty Copeland becoming the first black female principal at ABT. I am happy to just have my body, my mind and spirit all connected to twirl five to six days a week. I tell my body what a good job it does every day handling tough rehearsals. As 2016 quickly approaches, I am grateful to simply reflect on past moments and the people who affect them.”

“I am most grateful for everyone who came across my life this year because they helped shape it in such a way that allowed me to grow as a dancer. With that being said, it reminds me that as an artist, I should never take anything for granted and that this is an art form that is meant to be shared. My parents instilled that philosophy in me while my peers kept me encouraged throughout the process. This year was a hard one for me facing rejections and self-doubt. Giving thanks is part of my daily ritual, and I will continue to do so as part of my wellbeing.”

Carlos Garland.

Carlos Garland. Photo by Marisa Dolan.

Carlos Garland, traveling instructor/choreographer

“I am thankful for dance and my ability to dance every day. Humility throughout every day makes every dance opportunity the best. In 2015, I am thankful to have performed Off-Broadway in NYC with the cast of iLuminate and their show, iLuminate: Artist of Light, as the main character. After that, I focused mostly on teaching and choreographing. I appreciate the dedication of all the dancers I have taught at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway in NYC. Both of those companies have such a prestigious rank in the dance community. Now I am living in Orlando, Florida, traveling around the U.S. teaching and choreographing for schools, studios, companies, conventions and so on. I am thankful for the appreciation that I receive from all I encounter during this time of sharing and inspiration. 2016 will be even better!”

Cathie Nicholas, tap dancer, of the Nicholas Brothers legacy

“2015 has been such an incredible year for me! I have truly found my purpose and am making my own path! First and foremost, I am most thankful for my parents! They are the most loving, supportive, strongest people ever! #teamtonyandvanita! I am also thankful for my legacy! I have become ‘momager’ to my children, Naomi and Nicholas, as they are the ‘Nicholas kids’ and are never shy in front of cameras, and have been in movies, TV shows and live productions this year. And lastly, my girls! I have started a tap company, Rhythm ‘n Shoes – six of the most beautiful, talented, craziest teenagers ever! And of course expanding my artistic vocabulary, starting a management company and being creative director and choreographer for a top musical billboard artist! Oh yeah! And I’m also thankful I still have all my splits, that I can slay all dance genres, and that I am not afraid to still shock myself! 2016, get ready!

Michele Wiles.

Michele Wiles. Photo by Albert Ayzenberg.

Michele Wiles, artistic director of BalletNext

“I am thankful for the positive risk-taking environment that has been created at BalletNext. It’s a place that encourages growth, innovation and an acceptance of experimentation. I am extremely thankful for all of the relationships that have been built along this journey. Our collaborations with a diverse set of artists from street dance to leading jazz musicians have opened so many creative avenues and shed light on my own artistry and training. I am looking forward to the season in 2016 and continuing the journey with Tom Harrell, legendary jazz musician, Jay Donn, a pioneer of Flex dancing, and other special guests.”

Peter Sabasino, So You Think You Can Dance Season 6

“In 2015, I’m thankful for all of the opportunities that have presented themselves to me. They have all had a profound impact on me. I’m thankful for having the honor of being friends with David and Lissette Lucas, the owners of Shake The Ground dance competition. They asked me to be their host/emcee, and it has given me the chance to get to know the dancers much better. Also, I’m thankful for being asked by Carolyn Pereira to come back to teach at her amazing convention, East Coast Edge, for a third time in a row. I’ve gotten to see all the amazing dancers grow from year to year. Overall, I’m thankful for life. That’s the greatest gift of all.”

So here’s to looking back on another wonderful year of dance and looking ahead to an exciting 2016. What are you thankful for this year?

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

Photo (top): Daphne Lee of Collage Dance Collective. Photo by Darius Williams.

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