Watching bubbly teenagers morph into disciplined warriors is an interesting experience. One minute they’re giggling and gossiping. The next minute they’re performing water ballet on dry land – or on a cold hard floor, to be precise. Instructor Laura Raines beats a drum and guides the girls through a series of laterals, lunges, pliés and relevés that are part of the Horton Technique of modern dance designed to develop core strength. It’s just one hour out of the 15-20 hours a week the GO! Contemporary Dance Works troupe spends in preparation for its upcoming performances at the Bijou Theatre on Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21.
“I dance because I love it,” explains Alex Constantinou, when asked about the extraordinary commitment it takes to be one of the 13 or so girls in the elite senior company of GO! “It makes me a stronger person, mentally and physically.”
GO! Contemporary Dance Works is the brainchild of Artistic Director Lisa Hall McKee, who founded the company seven years ago. Her passion is evident as she describes the innovative choreography for the upcoming production, featuring “living props, live music and electrifying energy.” Prior to Saturday evening’s performance, there’s a special pre-production benefit at the Square Room on Market Square. GO! Gala 2010 promises a journey through France and Africa featuring Gallic cuisine. The Gala, in its second year, is an annual fundraiser for the nonprofit dance company. There will be a silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind experiences, like dinner for six at Chef Bruce Bogartz’ counter at RouXbarb. There’s also a signature JulieApple tote bag from eco-chic designer, Julianne Applegate.
However, the Gala is only the prelude to the spectacular staging and athletic exhibition to come. Thirty girls will dance their hearts out. The audition-only company prepares dancers for college-level studies and professional careers. The class offerings include an eclectic mix of ballet, modern and jazz that makes the productions unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s art and engineering, momentum and magic.
Alex has been dancing since second grade, but most of her peers started when they were toddlers. “I’m constantly improving myself as a dancer,” she says. “I’ve learned that everything is not handed to you. You have to earn it.”
GO! Contemporary Dance Works is donating 200 tickets for the Sunday matinee to students from Vine Middle School, Beaumont Elementary School and Austin East High School as well as the Emerald Youth Foundation and the Amachi Mentoring Program, among other groups.
According to Agnes DeMille, “To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.”
A junior at Farragut High School, Alex has another year to perform with GO! before she graduates and moves on to other things. She credits dancing with teaching her to be part of something larger than self. Alex enjoys the synergy that comes from working together to create something extraordinary. Someone once said that dance isn’t a form; it’s a way of life. And so it is for these young dancing ninjas.
For tickets call 865.984.1200 or go online to gocontemporarydance.com.