Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is the Artistic Director and Choreographer of DGDG: Danielle Georgiou Dance Group. She also serves as the Assistant Director of the UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble.
In December of 2010, I had the opportunity to present my dance and video work at the National Performance Network’s Annual Conference hosted in Dallas. Through that presentation, I met Cora Cardona of Teatro Dallas, and at the beginning of the new year, she commissioned an evening-length show I had been developing called Love and Vices. A month later, and we open on Saturday, at 8:15 p.m. at Teatro Dallas.
Principal dancer Lauren Guyer shares her feelings on working with a new company and putting together a show from scratch:
In the late summer of 2009, the annual Brazos Contemporary Dance Festival brought more than a collection of modern dance pieces together, it produced friendships. Touring a performance presents more than opportunities for artistic expression; it bonds dancers on a personal and professional level, which has been proven essential to ensemble work as well as cohesively run dance companies. This is the summer I met my best friend, Danielle Georgiou. She was celebrating her 25th birthday that weekend we performed. We really got to know each other when we broke away from the group to do a little shopping, what girls seem to inherently know how to do. If you’ve ever shopped with Danielle Georgiou, you know how much fun (and expensive) that can be.
Fast forward two and a half years, I have been given the unique opportunity to watch a new dance company (Danielle Georgiou Dance Group) develop by the hands of my best friend.
When Danielle shared her news of Teatro Dallas commissioning her work, the friend in me was super excited for her, but the artist in me was even more excited for the idea of a new dance company in North Texas. I quickly learned my unique perspective would come with its challenges, as well as valuable teaching experiences. The only seat closer to the action than mine would be the hot seat itself. 1, 2, 3 … NOT IT!
Anyone would gladly devote four days a week to rehearse a show due to perform in three weeks for their best friend and artist they trusted … right?
I initially found it challenging to step back and forth between dancer and friend role. The only way I managed this shift was to analyze my advice in my head to make sure it was somewhat valuable, and then preface every comment with either “this is cast member/dancer speaking” or “as your friend.” What was wonderful about dancing for Danielle was her ability to stay open during her process and proclaim it as “our” process. The collaborative approach has always been woven into her work, which creates the ideal creative environment. As a dancer, this makes me feel appreciated, as well as validated.
Danielle came into the second rehearsal for the solo I will perform, called “Off,” with a completely different vibe than before. On a personal level, I wouldn’t call myself the most “quirky” or “eccentric” person in the world, state, or the DGDG company; so when she brought this new idea for the solo incorporating what we have dubbed “jam out,” I was extremely apprehensive. I was faced with the dilemma of trusting her artistic choice and remaining professional about movement that made me feel incredibly silly. Like the good dancer I’d like to think I am, I pressed on trying my best to make a connection with this movement. Every time I arrived at this moment of the solo, I would have a mini-internal struggle (yes, I was that uncomfortable). At some point during the process, she finally walked through the solo replacing “jam out” with what the audience will now see, called “boogie.” I’m not sure if she made this change because of me or for the piece, but I’m going to guess there is a strong possibility it was both. Like a good artistic director, this change was presented as a correction to a previously made terrible decision, which managed to preserve my ego.
Our friendship has definitely developed into something far more solid than “we dance together.” With every double check of her artistic choices, the reassurance I’m able to provide means more to me than the choice itself.
My desire for the show’s success comes from a personal and professional place. I am confident this weekend will be a plethora of successes. One, I, as well as the rest of the company, will perform new and restaged work perfectly chosen for the intimate space. Two, my best friend can stop functioning at her highest level of stress. Three, Dallas will see a brand new modern dance company with something different to say. I could definitely continue this list, but I would rather our audience fill in the blanks.