Name: Deja Miguest
Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavors
- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
For my project, I traveled to Los Angeles, California to take dance classes and learn from prominent and professional choreographers. The goal was to improve my dancing/ choreographic ability, interact with professionals in the field, and determine if I have the ability to dance and choreograph professionally.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
I thought that I knew who I was as a person but I found myself struggling when teachers would say “put yourself into the movement.” Several teachers explained that any dancer can do the steps perfectly, what makes it interesting to watch is the personality and the intention the dancer puts behind the steps; a dancer’s movement style, the faces they add, the emotions they put into the piece all reflect the personality of that dancer and tells the viewer /audience who that person is. I realized that I don’t know how to display who I am through dance. Granted personality is a complex thing and every aspect of mine can’t be displayed simultaneously but, this trip made me think about what aspects of my personality I want to demonstrate. I need to be more confident in who I am before I can reach my full potential as a dancer.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
The first class I took in Los Angeles was from Josh Williams. The routine he taught was not difficult just quick and involved a lot of grooves and personality. He chose a select group of boys to go at the end and perform the choreography in front of the class. Even though they were all doing the same steps, the way each boy chose to execute the routine was completely different. Everyone had their own style, their own attitude, and their own intention behind the movements. I was able to see who each dancer was through their performance and it was spectacular. After class I got to talk to Josh, he told me what draws him to a dancer is their personality, ability to make others feel something, and “sauciness.” I never fully grasped how important personality was in dancing until I watched that group of boys dance together.
The class I took with Galen Hooks also focused heavily on personality. The character for the dance routine was rock musician. She kept emphasizing that the routine is not about dancing pretty and correctly, it’s about embodying the character. She purposely didn’t demonstrate the routine several times because she didn’t want to influence how we, the dancers, did the routine. Galen really wanted to see individual interpretation. This class really challenged me to push myself to add faces, try manipulating movement, and embrace the character of a dance. It was the first time I think I was comfortable trying to add my personality and quirks to a routine because she pushed us throughout the class to do so. This class gave me specific points to work on as I am performing and I think that was something I tried to utilize throughout the week I was there.
The last class I took for the week was from Lee Daniel. During the class I focused on adding my own personality as well as adjusting the movements to fit my style and feel comfortable on my body. At the end of class Lee Daniel called me to go front and center because he liked the way I did the routine. It was more proof that choreographers really look for personality and energy just as much as they look for correctness of movement. I got to talk to him after class and he told me that a good dancer is able to take the steps and add more while still paying attention to the details of the movements. He was very encouraging, he told me I have potential and that I should definitely keep dancing.
These three experiences were the most influential because they helped me identify a problem, gave me suggestions on how to overcome my problem, and highlighted the benefit of me working on my problem. Adding personality to my performance and choreography is something I believe that I will continuously be working on but I’m happy I have had this experience to guide me through that. I need to continuously push my boundaries and comfortability as a dancer in order to transform from a good dancer to a great dancer.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
Realizing that I struggle to show who I am as a dancer while I am performing has given me a goal to work toward in my dancing. I feel like I have been stagnant in my dance career and I wasn’t getting much feedback in classes on ways I could improve. A personal goal of mine is to choreograph/dance for a large scale artist in a video, special performance, or world tour. Prior to my STEP project I wasn’t sure what I was missing as a dancer or what I still needed to improve on. Now I think I have a better understanding of what choreographers and teachers are looking for in dancers and how I can distinguish myself from a class filled with one hundred other dancers. This will also help me to develop my own style of moving and dancing which will be important if I want to choreograph.