Written by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba:
Few dance performers are granted the opportunity to leap through New York, to dance to the melodies of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Steps on Broadway, and the Broadway Dance Center. There are few whose feet greet the streets of what is known to be dance central, New York City (NYC).
It is quite understandable that 16 graduating Story Arts Centre dance performance students embraced the opportunity to travel to NYC on a dance expedition with great excitement.
On the morning of Feb. 19, Ashley Cole-Daley, 19, Tameka Hendricks, 19, and Sydney Usselman 19, arrived at the Story Arts Centre in the wee hours of the day, around 5 a.m. to be exact. They anxiously loaded bags laden with enough dance clothing for four days on a giant Great Canadian Coach bus as they considered the 12-hour journey ahead. Much of it would be spent sleeping. While awake, they spoke of the anticipation and zeal for the trip.
“I’ve never been outside of Canada,” said Cole-Daley.
“(I’ve been) on Google a lot. (I have been searching), ‘What can I bring? What is New York? What are the people like? Is it like Toronto?’”
Cole-Daley who started to dance at the age of eight after attending a Caribbean dance event was most excited to experience the dance culture in a different city. She was particularly eager to participate in the Hush Hip Hop Tour, a tour of New York as the birthplace of Hip Hop hosted by the Museum of the City of New York.
Likewise, Hendricks who began to dance at the age of six and is well versed in many forms of dance looked forward to the activities planned on the itinerary.
“I’m excited to see the dance scene and the Broadway shows. I’m (also) excited to learn about Alvin Ailey because we get to see that studio,” she said.
Usselman, who participated in the trip the previous year as a first year student offered a distinct perspective.
“I think an overall group bond will be different,” Usselman said.
“This year, with everyone together, it’s going to be a full group experience.”
At the end of the trip, as dancers sauntered onto the bus, bodies aching from three days of rigorous dance training, their experiences equaled their initial thoughts about the trip.
Usselman’s love for NYC was reignited.
“I love the hustle and bustle of NYC, how crazy it is all the time. Everyone’s always just kind of running around. Everyone has a purpose and it’s really cool to see,” said Usselman.
Hendricks enjoyed the extraordinary dance training she received in NYC.
“I have never really done anything like this; the drop-in classes in another country. I felt like it was such a good experience. And I feel like it made me work even harder,” said Hendricks.
Cole-Daley who captured an impressive 629 photographs throughout the trip appreciated the opportunities she believes the trip unearthed for her and other students.
“New York being one of the cities with a huge dance scene, I think that’s great for dancers because they can see what they have outside of their hometown. I’m very grateful that I had this opportunity to travel to New York and experience dance here,” she said.