Heather's Story: Ayoub Student Company
What inspired you to join a Student Company?
I had taken Performance classes for several sessions at Saffron and loved the way they challenged me to move beyond drills and technique. Learning (and remembering) choreography made me think in new and different ways, and I really enjoyed working with the women in class as a group. I was also getting a lot of encouragement from friends at Saffron and my son who loves to come to the Saffron shows. The next step was to join a Student Company (also the allure of sparkles helped!). I was a member of Chiftitelli for two years and am currently a member of Ayoub.
Did you have any special goals for yourself this year? How did your Company experience help you achieve them?
My goals for this year were to challenge myself and to feel more comfortable in the choreography so that I can focus on the in-between and relax into it. This is a big goal and one that I will continue to work on. Being in a Company makes me more accountable to my dance journey because I know there are 7 other women who are depending on me to be present and active and to be a part of their dance journey. This interconnectivity is one of the many things I love about Saffron and being in a Company.
What do you love most about being backstage at the Gonda Theater on show day?
The energy - everyone is excited and filled with joy! It's so much fun to get a chance to chat with friends and help put on make-up. Since I have two sons, I don't get to do much girly stuff, but being backstage at Gonda gives me my fix of it!
Do you have any special pre-performance rituals?
I always have one dream the week of show where everything in the performance goes wrong in all kinds of wacky ways (one involved not having our costumes and having to perform the entire routine backwards on skinny steps.) Also, in the car on the way to Gonda on Saturday morning we have a few rituals - stopping at Subway by my house just before they open to get breakfast and lunch and as we cross the Key Bridge into Georgetown we say "I feel good, I feel great, I feel WONDERFUL!" several times.
What's your favorite Company memory from this year?
This year Blythe has been challenging us to each put together a small solo performance for each other - it can be improv or choreographed and any style. I have loved every one of these special pieces, they allow us to show a bit of our personality in a safe and supportive space.
What do you love most about being in a Student Company?
This has been a year of highs and lows personally and being a Saffronita and member of Ayoub has helped me through it. I love the support and being interconnected with a wonderful group of women. This is my third year of being in a Company, and I have always felt the love and support of my fellow Saffronitas. I'm so glad to have each of them on my dance journey and to be a part of theirs. It's an honor.
For more about Ayoub, click here.
The Saffron Dance Student Company Program was created to provide dancers who seek to deepen their study with on-going choreography development and performance opportunities. Currently home to ten resident companies, from beginners to pre-professional level dancers and representing a broad range of belly dance styles, the Student Company program constitutes an integral element of the overall dance experience. Dancers are placed within a group of students who are in a similar place in their dance journey and development. Because members enjoy participation for one year, they experience enhanced artistic and personal benefits that come from sharing a joint commitment to a common goal, working with a consistent choreographer, and developing friendships that flourish outside of the studio environment.