Performance at Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater was a Success

West Coast Swing at Ailey Citigroup TheaterOur West Coast Swing and Hustle performance as part of the Performing in NY Experience at the Ailey Citigroup Theater was a tremendous success. Personally, it was one of the most memorable moments for me both as a dancer and as a teacher.

There’s something indescribably special about working very hard in rehearsals for a special moment, then for that special moment to be as momentous as it was supposed to be.

For us, it was 19 of our dancers surviving almost 12 weeks of rehearsals, getting through the inconveniences of a hurricane, being postponed and finally having a powerful performance. The feelings of such an accomplishment and the memories that are indelibly etched are priceless.

The dedication

Hustle at the Ailey Citigroup TheaterAlthough as a choreographer I hardly give out true compliments, I am extremely proud of how dedicated the dancers of our group were. Many of our dancers started learning the choreography to Tonight I’m Lovin You by Enrique Iglesias in June 2011 in Norwalk, CT. By the end of June, they were able to do the West Coast Swing and Hustle sections separately in a non-performance manner – able to do the steps without connecting the meaning of the song to the movements.

In July, our Monday rehearsals combined the West Coast Swing and Hustle portions of the choreography and added 2 reprises and bows. The last week of July was focused on putting the 25 of our original dancers on the stage of the Crystal Theater for our performance in Norwalk, CT.

August was the real test. After our first performance, 3 of our dancers indicated that they would be unable to be a part of our final push to the performance as part of the Performing in NY Experience at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York.

We only had only 3 Monday rehearsals and 1 Thursday final rehearsal to prepare for the big show…and we were ready. But there was one complication – a hurricane named Irene that was trekking up the east coast and was expected to hit New York City on the days of our performance.

See my blog on how Hurricane Irene affected our final days to our performance.

The day before the storm, I had contacted our entire cast. We had a new performance date – Wednesday, August 31. Unfortunately, with that date came a price. Two of our dancers could not perform due to personal conflict. It was heartbreaking, but there was nothing I could do.

Hurricane Irene came and went. Many of our dancers did not have electricity and I was barely able to contact them to confirm our performance details. One of our dancers was unreachable and I was concerned that she or her home in the Hudson Valley region of New York might have been harmed. Another one of our dancers was still trying to get her shift covered at work so she could make it in time.

Arrival to the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater

Anna and I arrived to the theater at about 5pm – an hour before call. Other dancers from our group were already there including Patty from the Hudson Valley. I was so relieved. Doug and Mary also arrived – they had not had electricity at their home for over 3 days.

At 6pm, our call time, we almost had the entire cast together. I was missing Josh, Mark and Eileen. I was trying not to panic, but I would only know what I was dealing with once we were allowed to go on stage for our final run-through.

That final run-through was great. Although Josh and Mark were late, they had made it safe and sound. Unfortunately, Eileen was not able to make it and her partner Mark would not have a partner for the West Coast Swing portion of the show. We were as ready as we could be for our performance.

Show time!

CT West Coast Swing & Hustle Dancers at the Ailey Citigroup TheaterWe warmed up in the “green” room with all the other 14 dance groups. There were about 200 other dancers. After seven other groups performed before us, it was our turn.

See some of our back stage pictures here.

We loaded our group on both stage-left and stage-right. The lights went black from the routine before ours, and then the music started. It was our music – Tonight I’m Lovin You. The lights started to go up, we all started our journey in front of a sold-out audience, and the rest happened so fast it was almost over just as soon as it had begun.

There was great applause!!

West Coast Swing neck drop at Ailey Citigroup TheaterWhen we walked off stage, the feeling of accomplishment was amazing. As a dancer, it was one of the best group performances that I’ve been a part of. As a choreographer and creator of a dance community, this might have been the singular best experience in my career. I can only hope that everyone else involved feels the same way. I hope they realize what they have accomplished – because it has never been done before: no other West Coast Swing & Hustle student group has ever performed on a professional New York City stage.

Congratulations to: Kim, Greg, Gil, Patty, Mark, Magdalena, Mary, Doug, Frank, Kathy, Josh, Debbie, James, Joy, Susan, Diana, and Harold!

Read our review in the

* Special thanks to Arthur Coopchik for the early pictures of our routine at the Ailey Citigroup Theater.