Flashback to 1995, I was 12 and I knew that I wanted to be a dancer. I couldn’t wait to be on stage in the bright lights and live in NYC, on Broadway of course. I started choreographing in my basement and premiered my first solo to “Can you Feel the Love Tonight”. When I graduated from high school, I decided to attend college before heading up to NYC so I had could have more time to prepare. In pursuing a degree in dance, I took several classes in composition (choreography), passed them all with flying colors, and started on my group choreography assignment. Though I thought my presentation was brilliant, the faculty thought otherwise and told me that I was better suited to be a recital director, rather than a choreographer. You are not an artist so stop trying to create. Go do something you are good at. OUCH!
Determined to prove those professors wrong, I decided to transfer into University of Georgia, where yet again, I was faced with choreographing another group dance for my senior piece. Inspired by the instruction and experiences I had at UGA, I began creating Being with no thoughts to whether the faculty would like it but instead about whether I felt something (any emotion) while watching it. When it was time to present it to the faculty, I wasn’t nervous, as I was at all other showings in the past. I was confident. I guess I figured it couldn’t get worse than my last review and I had accomplished my goal of creating a dance that took me on an emotional journey. To my surprise, the UGA faculty truly enjoyed it and allowed it to represent them at the American College Dance Festival that year, in 2006.
15 years ago at about this time of the year, we presented Being to an amazing panel of adjudicators: Ann Reinking, protege of Bob Fosse; Wendy Perron, editor of Dance Magazine; and Steve Rooks, Alvin Ailey Company; and received rave reviews. (In a sweet twist of fate, my former professors were also at this festival and heard every word.) At that point I knew that my passion for choreography also had some skill behind it and decided to start my own company. I no longer wanted to live in NYC in the hustle and bustle of the city under the pretty stage lights. I wanted to create emotion on stage and give that to an audience. I wanted to move someone. I wanted to make people see a new perspective through my art. . . and thus SIDEWAYS was born.
Another fun fact about Being: Mary Mattmann was one of my original dancers at UGA for the first presentation and I am happy to say that she is still dancing in SIDEWAYS. When I decided to launch SIDEWAYS, I immediately invited Mary and she has been a part of the company’s development ever since. It’s been an amazing 15 years of watching Mary dance, as well as all my other amazing dancers, and I can’t wait to unveil Being for you again this season. You can check out the original here: