This fall, the CA Dance Project’s collaborations with professional organizations have heightened students’ interest in creative movement and provided opportunities for learning and inspiration. 

On November 3, students were honored to visit the Boston Ballet studios, engaging in a dialogue with My’Kal Stromile, a distinguished company member and emerging choreographer. 

A graduate of the Juilliard School and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Stromile shared his dance journey, having joined Boston Ballet II in 2018 and became a Boston Ballet artist in 2019.

Stromile emphasized the significance of versatility in dance, encouraging young dancers to explore a range of styles. With experience in genres from hip-hop to modern, he asserted that cross-training contributes to the development of stronger dancers.

Offering advice to aspiring CA dancers, Stromile highlighted the importance of persistence: “There is something to be said about sticking with something long enough and enduring through challenging times; it teaches you who you are.” He urged dancers to invest time and energy into their pursuits, emphasizing the valuable life lessons that emerge from such commitment.

Recently premiering his first mainstage piece, Form and Gesture, with Boston Ballet, Stromile discussed his philosophy as a choreographer. “As a creator, I try to find a balance between my voice and style, and my influences,” he said. “That’s what’s both challenging and fun about it.”

Following the insightful conversation, the group observed a rehearsal of Cinderella, witnessing the intricate collaboration between dancers, stage managers, and choreographers. Stromile, set to perform in both Cinderella and next month’s The Nutcracker, provided valuable insights into the behind-the-scenes dynamics.

Continuing their exploration of dance disciplines, on November 7, Dance Project members participated in an on-campus dance improvisation workshop led by Jessie Jeanne Stinnett, dancer, choreographer, and founder and co-director of Boston Dance Theater.

Stinnett guided students through a warm-up, teaching them how to follow circular motions to create movement pathways and traverse space.

The students then experimented with different textures—imagining their bodies as elements from the flowing elegant lines of water to the heavy, syncopated movements of stone. They varied their movement by playing with different speeds and dancing at different heights within the space.

Students selected one texture and practiced in pairs to explore it in unison. At the end of the session, students formed groups of six and delivered performances that showcased their imagination.

Throughout the workshop, students gained confidence in dancing without choreography. In a reflection after the session, some shared their favorite parts, including “how to observe other people and synchronize with them,” and “the importance of emotions” in dance.

CA dance faculty Rika Okamoto and Alex Brady praised the students’ commitment. “We feel like we got to see a new side of you all,” they said.

These immersive experiences allowed students to delve into the rigor of ballet and the spontaneity of improvisational dance, fostering a well-rounded understanding of the art form.

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