Four weeks ago, Brianna Hawk, a student in the Summer Study NYC: A Contemporary Dance Intensive, walked into the studios at 2121 Broadway unaware of how this experience was soon to play such a crucial role in her life as a dancer. Here, she shares with us as she reflects upon her experience in the program.
Growing up in this difficult, yet beautiful field, I have tried to never allow myself to feel comfortable. As I discover more about myself as a dancer, I grow even thirstier for new experiences and challenges. When my sophomore year at The University of the Arts came to an end, I researched summer programs and came across the Steps’ Summer Study NYC Contemporary Dance Intensive. What drew me to the program was the diverse faculty I was going to study with through open classes and the Contemporary Masters Series, as well as the fact the curriculum provided four elective classes of our choice per week, so we could dabble in styles other than ballet and contemporary. I was accepted into the program and eager to start!
The term “intensive” fit the program perfectly for its vigorous long days demanded physical strength, mental focus, risk taking, and open mindedness. During the four weeks, there was never a day where I left feeling defeated. The exhaustion that lingered in my body pushed me to reach my potential and my mind was never restless as each educator always had me pushing for more. After taking three dance classes a day, we would have either our Creative Tools or Performance Skills class. The days were a combination of technical practice, mental and physical expansion, while integrating creativity. As each teacher gave me new tasks and knowledge to practice, it forced me to step outside of what I already knew. I would leave Steps every day exhausted but satisfied as I carried an internal “goody bag” filled with all the wonderful things my educators provided me with along with all the discoveries I had made about myself as a dancer.
Exhaustion is what turns on that self-critic inside your head, and gets you to react with what you know rather than to think over what you don’t have. Having Creative Tools at the end of each Monday and Wednesday until eight o’clock almost seemed impossible, however, Tiffany Rea-Fischer was the mentor we all needed during these intense four weeks. Her compassion, drive, and guidance steered us in a direction where we would creatively make new and different choices. She put us into trios, where she confidently knew that in the groupings she made, each dancer would challenge one another to step outside our own personal limits and to work as a team to create a piece that would reflect our growth throughout this experience. Together we took in each other’s ideas because with eight rehearsals there was really no time to doubt so we had to trust our teammates’ input. As we were preparing to perform we did not even know how we came up with the six-minute piece we choreographed but we were more than satisfied and excited about what we had created together!
Summer Study NYC brought together a small group of dancers from all over the world with different backgrounds. Having that diversity in a group was beyond refreshing and it made the program feel supportive and organic. Everyone had different stories and advice and we were all able to inspire one another and share our artistry in one room. I leave this experience with new friends, connections with teachers I’m so grateful to have met, and a new level of artistic discovery and technical ability. I highly recommend this program for any dancer who is looking to broaden their horizons, make connections and commit to a journey of self-discovery.
Contact: Mindy@StepsNYC.com for more information on how you can become a part of Summer Study NYC: A Contemporary Dance Intensive!