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Memories From Carnegie Hall

by Sonia Ivancic

It’s hard to believe that it has been three years since Shishya performed at Carnegie Hall on January 18, 2020. This event was hosted by Performing Arts Educators, who give young artists opportunities to perform in exceptional venues. Our school, along with 13 others, was invited to perform in their 14th Annual Invitational, A Festival of World Dance, at Carnegie Hall. Groups from around the country were given ten minutes to showcase their perfected pieces, ranging from Contemporary, Mexican, Irish, Classical Indian, Ballet and other dance forms.

We began learning our piece 6 months prior to the big day. Every Saturday once regular lessons had finished, 30 Shishyas would gather in the studio to continue learning steps and formations. We danced to high-energy jathis and first started all together, moving through formations, before breaking apart into three groups for smaller sections. Our ending sequence involved all the dancers joining back together on stage for an energetic culmination. As we got closer and closer to our show day, we began to practice on weeknight evenings and Saturday mornings in much larger spaces to get accustomed to the vast and iconic Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage where we would have to dance on. Our group of 30 dancers formed a tight bond as we grew increasingly excited.

On the morning of January 18, we gathered in our large and bright dressing room, though we barely fit into the space with 30 of us plus a group of Mexican-American dancers and musicians. These artists were from Arizona and we had a great time learning a few of their moves and teaching them some Bharatanatyam ones. It even began to snow outside as we got ready, and the artists from Arizona enjoyed this rare spectacle for them! The first time we stepped onto the stage was during our tech rehearsal. We were given a few minutes to run our formations and fix our spacing, and marveled at the majestic auditorium. Finally, after putting on our full costumes, the show began.

Stepping onto the Carnegie Hall stage awas an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not only had we grown closer as a school, we met artists of all different styles, and were able to present pure Bharatanatyam steps to a diverse audience. All of our long rehearsals on cafeteria and gym floors truly paid off during those exciting ten minutes of our performance. All at once, as the lights dimmed on our final pose, it was over. But our school will always treasure the memories from that day.

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