The first of the Student Showcase Series sessions have kicked off, but there are still spaces in a few of the Group and Solo Series that are starting soon, check ’em out here! We sat down with two of the instructors for this season, Tracee Kafer and Elena Delgado, to find out more about what is in store for the students.
B&P: Tracee, this is your first time working on the Showcase Series – what do you like about it? Why are you excited to be a part of it this time?
Tracee: I like that it gives students not only the permission to take inspired action in their own creativity and performance goals, but at the same time, to have the full support and input of a coach/instructor from start to finish. I’m excited because two of my students are first-time pole performers. To help empower them to embrace the stage solo and put themselves out there in a big way really fulfills and inspires me on a personal level.
B&P: Elena, you’re working on both a group piece, and also with soloists, and this is not your first time working with students for the Showcase Series. Can you tell us what you love about the Showcase Series?
Elena: I think the Showcase Series is one of the best things about working at B&P. I absolutely love helping people discover how creative they can be, and getting to see people perform for the first time. It’s such a blast and it’s really so empowering to watch people start to think about what they are able to do artistically. And I love love love watching the bond that forms between the performers! In the last two rounds of group showcases the performers made such important friendships, and collaborative friendships are so vital in keeping us inspired as artists.
B&P: The theme this season is “Welcome to the Jungle.” Tracee, can you tell us a little bit about what that theme evokes for you, and how you envision yourself guiding solo participants through the series?
Tracee: The first thing I thought of when first ruminating on this theme is the energy of a jungle… the balance and the chaos, the life buzzing within it – whether in nature, or in concrete. As I dive into this theme further, I can imagine so many possibilities of taking this concept internally, especially as you break the meaning of the word down in simple terms.
B&P: And Elena, can you tell us a little bit about what you have planned for the group routine, and how the theme will come into play?
Elena: I don’t want to spoil any surprises! But I always try to refer to the theme in an abstract manner, that’s just how I work. I love it when there’s room for many interpretations of the piece, for both the performers and the audience, that way hopefully everyone will be able to find an aspect to the work that resonates with them on a personal level.
B&P: Tracee, what are some of your strengths as an instructor that you will bring to the Solo Series?
Tracee: I believe that by leading with the wisdom and practical steps I’ve been able to generate from my own performance experience and creative process, I can foster a compassionate environment for the students to not only find what works best for them creatively, but also to prioritize their physical health and emotional enjoyment within the process. I believe strongly in self-care practices, preventative cross-training, meditation, and partner exercises to bring a performer to a level of comfort and self-acceptance while being totally visible and “on the spot”. There is an undeniable vulnerability in performing, no matter if your piece invokes a fierce alter-ego, or embraces a significant aspect of your own life. I want to be a facilitator for the best experience possible, one that allows for the celebration and the discomfort that are both inevitable. Oh, and to offer choreographic input and refinement, where necessary, of course. 🙂
B&P: And Elena, when it comes to solo pieces, what are some of your strengths as an instructor?
Elena: I think I’m very good at helping people understand the limitlessness of possibilities. I try to make sure that everyone who works with me feels like their voice and their ideas have value and that the methods of expression available to them are truly endless. I’m also very good at helping people figure out why they are including something, and helping them edit the distractions. Sometimes it can be more effective to raise your pinky finger with clear intention than to throw a triple star drop for no reason.
B&P: Ok – so let’s say I’m thinking about joining the Showcase Series, but I’ve never performed before, and I’m not sure whether to sign up for a group or solo, OR if I’m ready to perform. What’s your advice?
Elena: I’d say if you’re doing it right, you’re always going to be a little bit nervous performing. It’s nerve racking! You’re sharing something artistic and personal with an entire room of people, and if you’re performing from a place of honesty, you will always feel a little bit vulnerable. But that’s what makes it so fun and exciting! That being said, if you’ve never been on stage before at all, I think the group showcase is a great place to start. You still get to shine, and get your creative juices flowing, and to start contributing choreographically, but there’s not so much pressure.
B&P: What do you love about performing, and what do you hope to share with your students?
Tracee: I love the process of creating a piece from start to finish. Many of my fondest memories performing also happen before even hitting the stage. I feel that every piece you make teaches you something at that time in your life, what’s “strong”, what’s “weak”, what’s awesome about life, and dance, and creativity. It can also give you a space to ask for help and support, which opens you up to new ideas and friendship. The pressure and deadlines can also be invigorating, in manageable doses of course. On the stage, I love the connection. I love the weighted time that slows down, the immersion that feels self-indulgent and also generous, the feeling from the audience if they choose to invest in the moment as well, and the memory it makes in your spirit.
Elena: I love feeling like I’m connecting with the audience, that I’m communicating. That’s what I hope to share with people who work with me, that it’s not about the tricks, it’s about what you’re trying to say, the story you’re telling. Technique matters, for sure, and structure, but only so that your audience doesn’t get distracted from the connection, because it’s really the message that matters most.