I need a fair measure of beginner’s luck to warrant further pursuit of any craft. It took two days of basketball camp for me to realize that I have terrible hand–eye coordination and a basketball uniform would never be my strongest suit. Dance, however, just fit. I started lessons at the age of 3 and was hooked. Senior year of high school, my studio director urged me to study dance in college. She saw my potential long before I ever saw it myself, and gave me the push I needed.
PC Nathan Sayers
At Oklahoma City University, dance shifted from after-school activity to professional training. Abysmal turnout and knock knees meant Don Quixote was not in the cards. Jazz, however, felt as natural as breathing. I had college crushes on Jack Cole, Bob Fosse and Luigi. I focused on new possibilities, adding dimension to my performance vocabulary with singing and acting, and spent summers performing with Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. I walked into my first audition having never read audition sides, and the summer before my senior year I was Diana Morales in A Chorus Line.
Through theater dance I could communicate ideas and accomplish a greater good. Careers of service run in my family. Hutchings Health Care is my father’s medical practice. His family owns Hutchings Funeral Home, and they’ve been in that business in my hometown of Macon, Georgia, since 1895. His parents also worked in local politics—his father was appointed the second black member of the Macon school board in 1969, facilitating the continued integration of public schools. My mother built a career as a news anchor, and later became a teacher. Her parents also worked as educators. Following their lead, dance is how I fulfill a greater calling to communicate, heal, teach and effect change in society.
Theater inspires humanitarianism as a shared sanctuary of catharsis where we experience the most joyful and most tragic parts of life. As an original cast member of Hamilton, a favorite moment of mine was our Tony Awards performance sans prop muskets to stand against gun violence and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. We also had cast meetings with Black Lives Matter members to facilitate informed dialogue about discrimination. I am most proud as an artist when using my platform for social progress.
So, dance lessons as a toddler have overgrown into a superhuman philanthropic vision of world peace. Art is expansive in that way, and I am grateful that dance has opened up so many opportunities. Dance is not my only love, but it is the place I first realized I have something to give that the world needs, and it is the place I return to when I feel lost. Dance is home; my base camp from where I try to the change the world.
Pacific Northwest Ballet principals Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta took their final curtain call on June 9, 2019. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB
We all know dance careers are temporary. But this season, it feels like we're saying goodbye to more stars than usual.
Many have turned to social media to share their last curtain calls, thoughts on what it feels like to say farewell to performing, and insights into the ways that dancing has made them who they are. After years of dedicating your life to the studio and stage, the decision to stop dancing is always an emotional one. Each dancer handles it in their own way—whether that means cheekily admitting to having an existential crisis, or simply leaving with no regrets about what you did for love.
We will miss these dancers' performances, but can't wait to see what awaits each in their next chapters.
A previous lab cycle. Photo by Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade, Courtesy RRR Creative
Choreographic incubator Broadway Dance Lab has recently been rechristened Dance Lab New York. "I found the nomenclature of 'Broadway' was actually a type of glass ceiling to the organization," says choreographer Josh Prince, who founded the nonprofit in 2012.