Photo Credit: Phil Wayes

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Love, Dance, Family, Unity

(Photo Credits: Phil Wayes)

I met them on March 21st, 2004. I was auditioning for her company, the PA Dance Vision Repertory Ensemble. I'd just finished the let's-see-how-you-dance-with-the-full-company part of the audition; and I was sitting out in the lobby, nervously awaiting my interview/solo audition when he came sat down next to me. I'm Mike, he said, I'm her boyfriend, and I do lighting design/stage managing for the company.
I went in for my interview, danced the Lilac Fairy variation in dead pointe shoes, did a section of a modern dance that I was doing at school, somehow survived an improv and nervously prattled my way through an interview with Maria Triano, Founding Artistic Director. I was eighteen years old, with hair in two little Princess-Lea buns and my favorite purple Grishko sweater over my lucky black leotard. We do a lot of modern and jazz, she told me many times. I was clearly a bunhead, maybe not the best fit for their repertoire.

She took me anyway.

Two weeks after graduating high school, I danced my first performance with them. The next morning I left for New York City, and was happy to find well-wishing e-mails from both Maria and Mike when I finally checked my e-mail. Mike worked in the city and visited me after school one day; we walked all over New York City and got to know each other. He even gave me a ride back to PA when I came home for a weekend.

Shortly after returning from New York, I loaded up my Saturn and moved into my First Place, 3.5 miles from the studio (Maria had gone with me when I went to check out the place). PADV had just acquired a second studio space in Cresco, PA; I helped with the renovation efforts and had a positively lovely time getting to know Mike, Maria, and a few other dancers who later became good friends of mine. I taught creative movement, helped out with rehearsals for the second company, worked the desk at their dance studio, and learned roles left and right. My second show with them, I got to dance not one but two featured parts and was elated (not to mention honored beyond belief). And while I was having a hard time adjusting to my new/adult/ living-on-my-own-in-a-new-town/ holy-crap-I-actually-have-a career life, Mike and Maria stood behind me. They listened to me whine so many times that they deserve some kind of Nobel Prize. They dealt with my angst, gave me hugs, and let me hang around their house and eat peanut butter sandwiches on their couch while I did my office work. They were amazing, and I'm thankful for every second.

I was with them for about two seasons before I went back to New York.

Maria and I didn't talk much for a while, but we started e-mailing again after a few months . Since we were no longer professionally bound, we began to develop a strong friendship-- I talked to her on MSN every day when I first moved to Houston; she tolerated to an earful of Oh God, I hate this place, get me OUT; she told me it was okay to leave Houston if I wanted to.

Clearly, I didn't leave Houston after all... but every time I'm in Pennsylvania, I make a point to visit the Triano/Abate family (last Christmas, they even collected me from hell JFK Airport and brought me to my mom. How awesome is that?). They're my second family, and have been for years.

One month after I left PA, on Maria's birthday. Mike proposed. She said yes.

Today, they are getting married.

Am I sad I can't be there? Yeah, um, LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE. But as you well know: "That's showbiz." (Ironically, I missed my best friend T's wedding because I was in a show at the time...and T is Maria's cousin)

Mike and Maria: Congratulations on your wedding, I wish you nothing but the best blessings in life. I love you guys.

Edited to add (8pm)-- I saw the pictures that have popped up on Facebook already, and I'm now crying like a girl over here:(Photo credit: Jennifer Smith, PA Dance Vision. Thanks, Miss Jen!)

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