This contemporary piece, entitled Remedy, was inspired by the seven autistic children I met while volunteering as a dance teacher at a Broadway camp for special needs children. At the beginning of the Broadway camp, it was difficult for the children to speak clearly, move on tempo, and focus. However, through the customized therapeutic combination of music and movement, they sang loudly and clearly and executed every dance move to perfection. The music was their remedy. I wanted to share their metamorphosis through my eyes and movement. This work was challenging to choreograph because teaching and getting to know these students was the best moment of my life. I felt that my movement was never good enough. I was pushing myself to create a dance that would represent exactly how I felt when teaching my seven new friends. As soon as I accepted the fact that this dance cannot be as great as meeting the children for the first time, the pressure I put on myself went away. I began to focus on telling the story, and the piece came together quickly after that. A lot of my movements are inspired by the children’s ticks and quirks. For example, grabbing my dress in the beginning of the solo or wrapping my arms across my body resembles the children who were quick to fidget if they got uncomfortable. I love this piece because it takes me back to the day my life changed forever.
Finalist - Ani Rosen - Windward School (CA)
Women constantly feel that their bodies are not beautiful enough, and I have experienced this firsthand. Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2015 at the brink of high school, my body weight has fluctuated dramatically. I lost almost 30 pounds due to my symptoms, gained it back as I grew healthier, and continued this cycle through multiple hospitalizations. I was praised by my peers for how skinny and good I looked, though they did not realize the darkness I had experienced to get to that weight. Initially feeling like my beauty was fading as I became more healthy, I began to realize as a dancer that my body was my power. To express my journey, I created this solo entitled “Body Acceptance” to bring awareness to all of the young women who have felt pressure from society to be the “ideal” woman. Because my body is my vehicle for expression and elation, I have finally grown to love and embrace it at any weight. Through my soft movements, I wanted to convey vulnerability that women feel daily as we constantly grapple with insecurity. I wanted to underscore these small movements with powerful, intricate movements to emphasize the strength it takes to defy these societal standards and live confidently. With the media’s favoritism of skinny, and overly-edited, yet stunning models, and the pressure to fit a “perfect” social media persona with perfect makeup and clothing, we must find ways to appreciate our bodies for what they are, not how they should be.