Celebrating the Big Ten
Dancers Emily Dyson and Aleksa Lukasiewicz have reached a milestone. After their first week rehearsing in the new DK Studios following five months away due to Covid-19 restrictions, we checked in with them.
Q: Looking back at your 10 seasons with DK, how have you changed as a dancer and as a person?
Emily: As a dancer I have always been very much in my head. Learning the Graham technique I found myself constantly checking to make sure I was doing everything properly. It took me a long time to trust that my body knew what to do and to just dance. One of the most valuable things David has taught me overall is to have confidence in myself, not only as a dancer, but as a leader and teacher as well.
Aleksa: As a younger dancer I used to be pretty nervous onstage, worrying about the steps and the technicality of them. Now I’m much more relaxed and I tend to focus more on how I plan to connect with the audience—how to open my heart up to them. It provides for a much more rewarding experience. In the beginning I also always felt the pressure of having to prove myself. Now my confidence has definitely grown, and instead of always comparing myself to those around me, I’m working on finding what I can bring to this company as an individual, knowing my strengths and weaknesses.
Q: What has been your favorite piece to dance, and favorite costume?
Emily: My all time favorite piece to dance is iconoGlass—it pushes your limits not only as an artist, but also an athlete. At the end of a performance, you find yourself laying on the floor thinking, “I just did that!” It’s such a rewarding, fun piece, and I am so looking forward to the next time we are able to dance it. My favorite costume is from my Kling no klakka solo—it’s a beautiful combination of pants and a skirt.
Aleksa: I think my top piece so far as been Piaf. I just love the juxtaposition in it—gritty, sexy, rude, flirty, classy, and so fun to dance. I’ve also loved Magical mystery Tour, Skin Walkers, and iconoGlass. I’m not sure I have a favorite costume, but I’m always blown away when I put something on my Barry Doss. His costumes are always so extravagant.
Q: How does it feel to know that after Jillian Godwin retires this October, you will be the two most senior dancers?
Emily: Jill’s presence in the studio and on the stage will definitely be missed. I am looking forward to sharing this wonderful opportunity with Aleksa—it’s a great feeling knowing that I get to share such a role with one of my best friends.
Aleksa: It will definitely be a big, sad adjustment to not having Jill around. She brings such a strength and energy, not only to the stage, but to every day in the studio. We will definitely have to step it up and carry that on.
Q: How does it feel to have the company back together after five months apart, and in the new Dance Kaleidoscope Studios? What are the challenges for the dancers right now?
Emily: Walking into the studio on August 10 and having class with everyone all together again was overwhelming and so exciting at the same time. The new studio is stunning! I find myself wandering around thinking, “This is our home!” Right now one of the biggest challenges for me is not to get too frustrated when my body doesn’t do what I want it to right away. I have to continuously remind myself that I had 5 months of not being able to dance full out, and with time I’ll get back to where I was.
Aleksa: It is absolutely wonderful being back. Dance is a huge part of our well being and our identity, so not being able to participate in that fully has been really hard on us the past several months. That being said, there are definitely challenges. This is the longest break I’ve had from dancing since I was probably 13 years old, and I’m sure that’s true for many of the dancers. My body is definitely not capable of doing everything that is was when I left back in March. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, it can be a little discouraging. But I just have to trust with time my body will get there. I think with the long break and coming back to our beautiful brand new studios, everyone is more motivated than ever to work hard.
Q: What is your hope for the future of DK and the arts?
Emily: My hope for the future of DK is that our new space will continue to allow us to connect with the community and to reach new audience members. My dream is that we allow the arts to bring us together in whatever capacity we can.
Aleksa: I would love to see DK grow in recognition, not only locally but nationally as well. We are one of the few companies still practicing the Graham technique and I think that really sets us apart. I’d also love to see our school grow and have our space become a place where the community can gather and celebrate the arts.
Rehearsal photos by Michael S. Drury, Gray Dragon Photography.