This summer, Rex Kennedy has two choices.
He could be attending the American Dance Festival, as he has done for the past two summers, or he could move on to be part of the Lee Saar Dance Company in New York City, meaning that he wouldn’t be returning to VCU in the fall.
At ADF, he has the opportunity to improve his dance techniques and connect with dancers and choreographers from across the country over six weeks. He would be able to participate in his favorite activity, the Improv Jam, where musicians and dancers from the festival gather somewhere on the Duke University campus to dance and play music an open setting.
On April 12, Kennedy and a senior dance student will be traveling to New York for a day-long audition and workshop with the company. If Kennedy is hired, he plans on leaving school and ADF for the opportunity to work as a professional dancer in New York City.
“I think I would have to (leave school) just because it’s just such a once-in-a-lifetime thing and (the Lee Saar Dance Company is) definitely gaining more and more visibility as the months progress,” Kennedy said. “They’re definitely making really good work and they’re a really important thing to have in the dance scene and I just really want to be a part of that.”
The Lee Saar Dance Company is originally from Israel, but moved to New York in 2005 after being awarded green cards for artistic excellence. The Lee Saar Dance Company does mostly gaga style of dance, which Kennedy first learned at ADF and now uses in his dancing at VCU.
“I’ve been doing gaga since my first summer at ADF and I’ve been practicing it on my own, so it’s definitely the most influential in my movement vocabulary,” Kennedy said. “I think it just changes your movement vocabulary and it’s all really sensations-based. … It’s a lot of work. It all feels really good, but afterwards, I would just be so tired or sore because it’s really full body work that you wouldn’t get in a normal technique class.”
While Kennedy is excited for the opportunity to audition for the part, it would mean leaving ADF, which he has been part of for the past two summers. Kennedy even wrote his VCU scholarship application essay on his first year
“It’s definitely just a big place to come and just see all this dance, whereas other times during the year, you’d have to go to different places,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think there is any other place where you could see such a concentration of dance companies in such a
short amount of time.”
Kennedy has the opportunity to work with other dancers and choreographers at ADF, including Rosie Herrera, an up-and-coming choreographer whom Kennedy worked as backstage help to and saw at her New York debut in January.
“We’ve kept in touch ever since, so it was nice seeing her at her show,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully she’d want to work with me this summer.”
Last summer at ADF, Kennedy met several VCU Dance professors, including Martha Curtis. Should he be hired by the Lee Saar Dance Company, Kennedy would be leaving the teachers at VCU whom has learned from over the past year.
Kennedy is considering his options, between returning to the 80th anniversary of ADF and staying at VCU or joining the dance company, Lee Saar.
Despite his love of ADF, Kennedy said, “I think I would have to go for (the Lee Saar Dance Company.)”