By Teaching Artist Patrick Ferreri
Every summer for the past six years, Victory Dance has showcased the incredible artistry and diversity of New York City’s top choreographers and dance companies with performances specifically curated for young audiences. A New Victory Teaching Artist hosts each performance, guiding audience members through brief activities and discussions about the company and choreography between each dance. One of our hosts is Teaching Artist Patrick Ferreri, and here he shares about his own relationship to dance.
Summer in New York has always been a magical time for me, and Victory Dance has been a large part of that since I first became a host two years ago. The first time I saw New Victory’s summer dance series, I left the theater with a sense of inspiration and excitement that felt both familiar and entirely new.
When I spent my first full summer in New York, I was as a wide eyed 17-year-old who could barely believe he was getting to live in Brooklyn and dance at the Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive. It was a time of endless possibilities! It was also the first summer that I was pulled into the current of artists living, working and thriving here—a small taste of where my life was headed.
In a season when the city blossoms at its fullest, it’s hard to keep up with all there is to do. Here is where Victory Dance truly shines. In ninety minutes we get to see a full scope of what New York City dance can be and the many ways movement can express, reorient and empower us.
Over the course of three weeks at Victory Dance we travel through 12 diverse viewpoints on movement with 12 different companies. This range not only offers multiple entry points into the world of dance, but provides the audience with a greater context and framing of each work through its juxtaposition with the others. Each piece offers a living, breathing model of an individual experience informing a collective one.
Art in general, and live performance in particular, offers us pathways to a more truthful expression of who we are because there are no prescribed answers, only individual solutions to obstacles in our way. As an audience, we watch as someone solves a problem, giving us space to imagine how we would face a similar challenge. We enter the theater holding close to the things we know and leave with an enhanced perspective. We dream new worlds together.
As a host for Victory Dance, I serve not only as a guide to the amazing artistry on stage, but also as a very important bridge between the audience and the performers. It is this bridge that makes Victory Dance such a valuable resource for kids of all ages. It elevates the experience of watching dance to its highest level by providing both audience and performers the chance to discuss and reflect in real time. I watch light bulbs go off as the impact of each work lands and conversations unfold to make the deep connections between the work and the individuals watching it.
So much is transmitted through the non-verbal communication of dance. Posture, body-language and even subconscious twitches all betray the many truths lurking just below the surface, just behind the few words that are able to leave our lips. Movement shows us that we are not bound by our current existence. We can use our bodies and minds to create other realities to live and play within.
Movement is the language we share through a common vessel—the body. It brings humanity to the forefront, connecting our innate similarities while celebrating that which makes us unique. The conversations that happen through Victory Dance create this space for dance to be more than an experience for an elite audience of donors or scholars.
These conversations make clear to us that dance is an art form stretching across backgrounds and uniting us in what we all share—a body! Together we explore how movement holds within itself the capacity to highlight our greatest strengths and the endless possibilities inherent in our humanity.
This year (like every year) I am beyond excited to share in another summer of Victory Dance as we experience the ways in which we can push these bodies of ours beyond their limits, exploring all that we can become by interrogating the very core of who we are!
Patrick Ferreri is a Brooklyn-based artist and arts educator currently in his fourth season with the New Victory. He began his dance training at the age of five, received a BFA in dance from NYU at the age of 20, and is now exploring an ever-evolving career in the age range of 30-35. Patrick spent three years performing Off-Broadway in Punchdrunk’s production of Sleep No More and has toured nationally and internationally with numerous dance companies. This fall, in addition to deepening his work with longtime collaborator Rachel Mckinstry on their most recent project, aftermath, Patrick is guest curating CollabFest, a two week performance festival at Triskelion Arts, celebrating the myriad forms we use and ways in which we communicate with each other.