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.
“You can come to belly dancing with no prior dance and learn a fun and enjoyable dance.” -Grace
What inspired you to join a Student Company? I had been taking technique classes and really enjoying them, and had promised myself I would never have to actually go on stage and perform. Except that one of the reasons I had tried belly dance in the first place was to do something that would take me completely out of my comfort zone. Yet here I was again, defining the limits of what I was comfortable doing. It was time for me to go beyond that comfort zone again. So when Linda said I should try joining a student company, I did, and am so very glad I let myself be persuaded.
Did you have any special goals for yourself this year? How did your Company experience help you achieve them? My goal was to be able to actually dance with other people, as a unit, and not just be dancing next to people, doing my own thing. Working with the same group of people on two different choreographies really forced me to pay attention both to what I was doing and what everyone else was doing around me. In the company, not only do you get to know the other members better as people, but you get to know them better as dancers, and learn to tune your dancing into theirs so that we look better together as a group.
What do you love most about being backstage at the Gonda Theater on show day? I love how everyone has their own preferred camp-out setup, and the fact that everyone is willing to help anyone else out, because we're all in this together. Speaking of which, I really enjoy all the help I get with my make-up and hair (I'm fairly hopeless at it, but they've been teaching me, so I'm getting better!).
Do you have any special pre-performance rituals? I try to go through the piece once out in the hallway without hitting any passersby, and then try to figure out how I can keep wearing my lucky yoga pants under my costume...
What's your favorite Company memory from this year? Looking around at all the other dubious faces when Linda said we were going to do a veil piece when most of us had never even touched a veil, and then the awesome feeling when we completely pulled it off in June!!!
What do you love most about being in a Student Company? The fact that we are a group of women coming from completely different backgrounds, who come together to dance and become a work of art on stage. We all have our own occupations and worries, and while we might discuss them every once in a while, a lot of it seems to fall away when we put the music on and start moving through our choreographies. Everything is seemingly forgotten but the music, the steps, and the awareness we hold of the others dancing around us.