The Joffrey Ballet School Performance Company is currently on tour in the South, and dancer Melissa Westlake is sharing her experience with Pointe.
Day 1: Monday, April 15
Our first full day in Charlotte, North Carolina, started off with an adventure: We taught some local kids selections from our rep, then performed with them on the court of the Time Warner Cable Arena before the Bobcats vs. Knicks game. What a feeling it was to hear the announcer say, “And now, performing alongside the young dancers of Charlotte, we have the Joffrey Concert Group!” And we were off!
There were a few mistakes of course because, as we all know, no performance is ever perfect, but the feeling was irreplaceable. Onward it was to Rows O and P in section 123 where we screamed and yelled and cheered on the Knicks. (You can take the dancers out of New York, but you can never take New York out of the dancers.) My friend Kristina and I made it our mission to get a picture with rap artist Nelly, who was watching the game courtside. The other dancers doubted us, but fail we did not. It took jumping over a few chairs and creeping and crawling between people but we successfully got our shots!
Day 2: Tuesday, April 16
Off to the host families. After two nights at the Country Inn Suites in Charlotte, we were on our way to Statesville Performing High School of the Arts for our next performance. It was our second year at the school and we were excited to be back in familiar territory where we didn’t mind taking half an hour to space. While the men unloaded the truck with our treasure chest of costumes and props, the girls ran backstage to make sure that we got the biggest dressing room, seeing as there at least twice the number of girls as boys. But we couldn’t let the men do all of the work, so we grabbed the bars and prepared to take company class.
Later, while backstage getting ready for the performance, we all enjoyed the company of our baby mascot, Connor, the son of our associate director Brian McSween. We played pirates and wizards with swords made out of hangers—and taught him to sew our pointe shoes. Though our program was cut short one piece because of time, the company did an amazing job. We opened with Larry Keigwin’s Elements-Air followed by Mr. McSween’s One Last Breath and artistic director Davis Robertson’s Sibling Rivalry, and finished strong with Gerald Arpino’s Kettentanz
The audience could not have been more appreciative. After the show, we sat and talked with the school’s dance program. There was nothing but laughter and full conversations in the room. Little Connor was a big hit, as always, showing off his awesome pirate skills. And just like that we were in our vans again dropping everyone at their new homes for the next two nights. One family was kind enough to invite some of us take a quick a dip in their pool, which turned into doing cannonballs into the lake and sitting in the jacuzzi for some much-needed relaxation in front of what was the most beautiful view we could have asked for.