The Joffrey Ballet School Performance Company is currently on tour in the South, and dancer Melissa Westlake is sharing her experience with Pointe.
Day 3: April 17
First night in hosts’ family homes was a success! I, unfortunately, had to pull the first all nighter on tour in order to get my schoolwork in order. It’s tough being on the road and having finals at the same time. But in a few weeks I will have finished my sophomore year of college!
Performance number three was Larry Keigwin’s Air, Brian McSween’s One Last Breath, Dwight Rhoden’s Threshold Inlay and Gerald Aripino’s Kettentaz and Birthday Variations at Central Piedmont Community College. Being on all the different types of stages is really taking an effect. Tight calves, plus tight hamstrings from sitting in the car, Achilles’ starting to pull, quad muscles sore and even some very painful Charlie horses. This stage was by far one of the most difficult, spacing wise, because it was a trapezoid. We did not expect it to be that small or oddly shaped. With a little improvisation though everything ended up running smoothly.
Afterwards, our host family gave us a quick trip on a two passenger airplane. Racing down the runway, the meter reached 60 RPM and the plan lifted off of the ground and off into the sunset we flew. The pilot even let me fly for a bit!
Day 4: April 18
Next up was Duke University in Durham NC. We arrived pretty early because Mr. McSween was headed off to teach a master class so there were about 4 hours to kill before our own class. The company scattered and explored the campus, then had a game of frisbee. I guess we stayed in the sun a little to long because after, a good majority of us looked like red tomatoes in the summer heat! It was a miracle we got through class and rehearsal afterwards.
Day 5: April 19
We had a class at 10 am and rehearsal at our associate artistic director’s, old dance studio, King David Christian Conservatory with Mr. Sal and Ms. Barb. This was an important rehearsal for us because we had a show the next day and unfortunately one of our company members, Kristina, was injured and two other dancers, Vanessa and Shaina, had to replace her. Anything can happen while on tour.
After, Mr. McSween had to go and teach a master class so they gave us a day at the mall. We went shopping, watched a movie, and even had some frozen yogurt. And as soon as we got back to the hotel it was straight to bed, with a 7:45am departure time the next day.
Day 6: April 20
The studios at Carolina Dance Theatre in Raleigh were absolutely beautiful and the studio in which we performed in was twice as large as ours in Manhattan. Vanessa and Shaina were fabulous! For only rehearsing the pieces for a couple of hours, they truly did a fantastic job.
Then it was back into the vans for another two and a half hour car ride back to Charlotte. In downtown Charlotte we were all excited to head to Fuel Pizza Shop where they have some of the best gluten free pizza. One of our company members, Victor, is allergic to gluten so it was a good meal for him, he could have had a whole pie by himself! As everyone went out to enjoy the last of daylight, I stayed in Fuel Pizza reading up on my child psychology class to prepare myself for a quiz that needed to be done by 11pm the next night. Then it was back to the hotel though to prepare for our next stop, Atlanta Georgia!
Day 7: April 21
Our day started off with an early morning birthday breakfast for company member Shaina and Mr. McSween. We were all pretty excited to get to Atlanta, just because it felt as is if we were in North Carolina for so long. On the way, we found a great state park with a beach, boats, a lake, any and everything that we wanted to do outdoors. An hour and a half went by pretty quickly, and it was time for us to go and meet our host families. Megan and I were sent off with the Cash family. A wonderful southern dinner was awaiting us: baked macaroni and cheese, pulled BBQ pork and a delicious fruit salad. It was an early night, but a very good one.