— written by Zheng Wang, founder and artistic director of “Dare to Dance”
Did “Dare to Dance” start with a dare? Yes, but not from anyone else.
You see, 2010 was the year when I would turn 35. I wanted to do something fun to mark the occasion. A big party, perhaps? Meanwhile, 2010 was also the year when I started doing flash mobs – dancing with hundreds of people on the streets of Seattle. So, as my birthday approached, I had a new idea. What if I asked my flash mob friends to come together and put on a show… of original dances that we create ourselves? Even though most of us were not professional dancers, let alone choreographers? So I asked and… they said yes! The dare was on.
The whole show came together in a mere month and half. Which, in retrospect, was pretty crazy. We had only one night of tech rehearsal. Which, again, was crazy – especially considering that many of our dancers had never performed in a stage show before. Yet somehow, everything (well, almost everything) fell into place. On Dec 17, 2010, we performed “Dare to Dance” in front of a sold-out audience of 150 at Erickson Theatre on Capitol Hill. In all likelihood, our audience didn’t know what to expect. But as it turned out… They loved it! And so did we!!
I think the show surprised a lot of people, ourselves included. It’s amazing what can happen when you get a group of creative and enthusiastic people together. The technical imperfections were easily overlooked and overshadowed by energy, inspiration, and the pure joy of dance.
As everyone in Hollywood knows, every success demands a sequel. At the same time, with any sequel comes inevitable pressure. “Dare to Dance 2: Center Stage” unfolded in March 2012 at Seattle Musical Theatre, in front of an audience of 250. Without the pretense of a big birthday celebration, this was a real test: Was the first show a fluke? Or could we continue to step up? Like the title suggested, the theme of this show was “what happens when I’m-not-really-a-dancer dancers take center stage”. “Dare to Dance 2” was bigger, bolder, and paved the way for the show to become a new tradition.
For “Dare to Dance 3: Emerald City Rhapsody” (March 2013, Broadway Performance Hall), it was all about expanding and growing, both demographically and artistically. As we planned for the show, it seemed like the universe had come on board. Exciting things started happening, sometimes to our own amazement. “Dare to Dance 3” was full of firsts:
- First time performing two nights.
- First time holding open auditions and soliciting dance submissions from the community.
- First time highlighting youth artists. We had five young dancers/co-choreographers in the show, including 10-year-old Jah Miller who performed a solo!
- First time featuring live singing and musicians on stage, including an original song dedicated to the city of Seattle.
- First time with out-of-town artists! Dancers from Magical Madness Dance Theater traveled from Las Vegas to be in the show, and choreographer/lighting designer Beth Meberg flew in from L.A.
“Dare to Dance” always had a penchant for theatrical flare. This time it got to flourish, thanks in part to a perfect venue and a Broadway-esque medley number that anchored the show and inspired the title “Emerald City Rhapsody”. As a further tribute to our beloved Seattle, our curtain call was set to the song “Thrift Shop”. After all, the chorus pretty much sums it up: “This is f-ing awesome.”
I’ve always believed that if an idea is truly worthwhile, people will gravitate toward it. The fact that all these choreographers, dancers, and volunteers invest their time, energy, and even money to be part of the “Dare to Dance” movement, tells me it is providing a unique and valuable outlet for our creative community. At a “Dare to Dance” show, any technical barrier and emotional gap between “professionals” on stage and “laypersons” in the audience seems to diminish or disappear. We would love our audience to think: “Wow, this is great! And I could do this too!!” If the show inspires them to dance, great. If it inspires them to be creative, to venture out, to build something out of passion… That’s even better.
Dare to Dance 4: It’s Time
Apr 25-26, 2014
Dare to Dance 5: Love Uprising
May 1-2, 2015