Raja Kelly Checks in from ADF

About nine years ago, dance decided to take control over my life, and since then, I can’t imagine being happier. I graduated Long Branch High School as a national dance competitor and then enrolled into Connecticut College as a dance major with a concentration in Choreography and Performance. Since then I have danced some of the most influential dances made by some of the most respected choreographers, like Lisa Race, Adele Myers, David Dorfman, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and the list goes on.

This summer I’ve been lucky enough to participate in the 75th anniversary of the American Dance Festival, a six-and a half week, summer dance program where dance students, professionals, musicians, companies and supporters come together in a sweltering utopia where art comes back to life and is redefined for another year of practice and discovery. It has been about a week for me, and the amount of information and knowledge, and experience that I have gained since day one has quadrupled—I’m not kidding. Alongside living on my own, in the heat, with three other students, learning 100 new names a day, I have previewed over 20 new artist and have started to understand the process of auditioning as it will be a large part of my life in a little over a year when I graduate College. Former students tell me that this first week is one of the most intense but I still have tons to look forward too.

With another five weeks to go, I can’t imagine how much better it will get (but I’m ready). I have enrolled in a stellar Cunningham Technique class with Brenda Daniels, one of the most exciting repertoire workshops with Abbey Yager—former dancer with Trisha Brown, a modern technique class with a former student of Lisa Races and Jillian Pena will be teaching me Dance as film. I have already begun to explore performances with the Hollins MFA students, and one of the most interesting of my new adventure is my being selected to work (after extensive auditioning) with either Mark Dendy, acclaimed Broadway choreographer or Dairakudakan, a legendary Japanese contemporary dance technique—a very difficult decision to make.

Please stay tuned to more about my summer at the American Dance Festival and the experience of a lifetime…

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