5, 6, 7, 8. Triple turned out pirouette into arabesque balance. Precipité swivel. Run run. Grand jeté. Reach.
Here I am, dancing between two of my biggest inspirations. My older sister Brooke, my younger sister Amber, and me, a sister trio, premiered our latest contemporary ballet fusion performance this summer.
There is no feeling like being on stage, the culmination of an artist’s hard work and creativity for a beautiful moment. It is a feeling so great I can’t help but beam from ear to ear even thinking about performing! And, for a bonus layer of excitement, it is an honor to share the stage with two of my best friends and dance steps we choreographed together.
This dance journey of creating a choreography debut together as sisters led us back to our home theater. Being part of a dancing family, this is a meaningful stage for us, a momentous jewel box theater that we’ve grown up performing in. It holds many a milestone stage moment as well as special memories shared with every member of our family. Taking the stage in this sparkling space is a feeling so very close to magic.
Dance is the creation of art. There are many aspects that need to come together precisely before the curtain opens and the stagehands call, “Lights go. Showtime!” The journey of a new piece simply lights up my heart. Just as a beautiful pink rose begins as a seed and blooms from the soil of delicately clambering and eventually blooming, there are many steps (quite literally dance steps) in the process.
The Creation of “Rosa”
This is a story of teamwork. “Rosa” started with a seed of an idea that turned into a sister collaboration in the studio. Rosy fashion sketches dreamt up of pink costume designs followed. Along with the steps and our individual costumes we also decided to work with a 30-foot blush pink British parachute prop feature. The trio was finally coming together!
When it comes to music, we always choose songs that speak to us and that we can connect to. Our musical inspiration for “Rosa” came from Elli Goulding, one of our favorite artists, and her 2014 Royal Variety Performance in London. In that performance, she wears a 600-square-foot illuminated dress, performing with so much heart as she sings.
The next step for us was rehearsal. During technical rehearsals on stage, we planned our spacing on the gray Marley floors and tested the parachute’s flow to carefully time its movements with the choreography (with helpful corrections from our favorite icon ballerina AKA Mom). After, we set the scene of “Rosa” by editing the visual backdrop display to be projected while we danced, adjusting colorful pink lighting and stage spotlights with our lighting designer.
Wayne Dyer said, “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” I love this quote, and this was such a fantastic process.
Behind the Design
In Italian, the word “Rosa” means pink. Pink symbolizes joy, creativity, versatility, artistic design, and love. This word also simply translates to “rose.” The rose is a traditional Italian flower that radiates beauty and passion. My sisters are the roses in my life, and I wanted to reflect this in the design of the costumes and the choreography.
“Rosa” is fluorescence, the process of flowering. The precise unfolding and blooming of the pink parachute in our dance, synced with our movement, symbolizes growth. Our trio tells the story of a flower blooming, three roses rising tall together. Designing the “Rosa” costume, I took inspiration from the flourishing seaside flowers in California. I was also inspired by the use of roses in fashion.
In 2019, world-renowned fashion house Alexander McQueen celebrated the flower with a fashion installation in London showcasing their runway rose dresses from over the years. In an interview with Vogue, Designer and Creative Director of Alexander McQueen Sarah Jane Burton said about the rose, “To me, it’s the queen of flowers…” and “I love the fragility and splendor of it…the whole life cycle which has beauty as a bud and beauty through its decay. It has a strength and power.”
The “Rosa” costume features a crushed velvet leotard with pink rose appliqués and a graceful long skirt in pastel chiffon. This is a look designed to catch the stage lights with pink and green aurora borealis rhinestones scattered in a blooming effect along the design. It is a showcase of rose-like sparkle.
Three sisters, three journeys, one love for dance. My sisters and I grew up dancing together, learning, training, co-choreographing, sharing the dance floor at Showstopper dance competitions, and even being invited performers at international galas across the world! When we dance together, it’s like a dream. Time stops and sisterhood magic happens. We bring out the best in each other and are always ready to cheer each other on.
We have our own “sista language.” Just like some besties know what their other half is going to say before they say it, my sisters and I almost know what we are each going to dance before we find the steps ourselves. M. Elder said, “Side by side or miles apart, sisters will always be connected by the heart,” and Brooke and Amber inspire me with their unique sparkle from inside that shines out when they share their love for dance.
Dedicated to our family, “Rosa” takes on extraordinary meaning when we perform. These are our inspirations, our lovely family that has supported us from the start growing up as third-generation ballerinas. A special tribute video to our relatives premiered on the big screen in the theater before we stepped on stage. Our grandmother established herself as a ballerina in New England before performing professionally in Yugoslavia under Madame Roje, and our mom joined the Joffrey Ballet Company, dancing across stages in New York and in world tours. It was wonderful to honor two dance divas that shined on the stage before us and instilled a passion for dance inside our hearts.
Flowers on Stage
With just under a week of rehearsal time to bring this new trio into existence, it was time to take the stage before we knew it. We reunited for this dance from around the country where we are working on other dance dreams. In the stage wings, we added hair pins to the delicate pink roses placed alongside our French twists and say our Sisters Triple Take good luck dance prayers together. Our dad gives us the stage call from stage left and the spotlight glistens around. Showtime is an enchanting moment and I will dream about it for years to come.
The music fills the theater, and the parachute begins to unfold like a sweet rose turning toward the sun. We were fully in the moment and dancing from our hearts. It’s super special to be able to look out over the dance floor and just smile, mindful of how lucky we feel to get to dance, leaping, pirouetting, pointing our toes, and sharing our passion. The art of dance is a gift.