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Dance to Death

Shanice Stanislaus is a dancer from Singapore.  She is a Dance intern in Spain.

Dance to Death is an interactive, entertaining and insightful dance theatre performance influenced by the dance competitions that took place during the Great Depression in North America, where couples competed to win a cash prize. Alberto Velasco, the director for the show brings a new interpretation to the story by staging the performance as a competition where the performers would have to compete for real every night. The show itself uses unemployed actors and dancers of all ages hence bringing out the reality of the situation in which the show is based upon.

So how did I, a Singaporean who speaks mediocre Spanish find myself being part of this highly entertaining show? It all started with the training I went through as part of my internship in La Caldera where I took workshops with Alberto. Initially, I had second thoughts about doing this workshop because it was in Spanish and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to learn as much. I have a colleague, Lucia to thank for pushing me to take the workshop regardless of my language level. The workshops were absolutely amazing, I had learnt so much and most importantly, my course mates and Alberto himself were warm and helpful. Later, I found out Alberto was using the workshops to try out new ideas and choreographies for the show, after which he invited me to be a part of the ensemble for the show. After the series of workshops, I got invited to join the cast and I was honored because I truly believed in the work he was trying to make and I felt there was so much to learn from him and my fellow cast members.

The Workshop

Alberto is such an amazing artist and the most wonderful human being. I don’t say this because he is currently my director but from the very beginning he brings non-judgment and pushing creative boundaries in his work. He is so accepting of his cast, where they come from (including me), what they can bring to the work and mostly making work from the stories of these artists themselves who have struggled in this industry.

Before rehearsal

The rehearsals have already commenced and it really is work. I get the first taste of what it means to train and work for a dance company in preparation for a huge show like this. We do an intensive 5 hours a day, including an intensive training on the body and mind, along with creating and preparing material for the show. As fatigue starts to wear the dancers down throughout the week, we are all presented with the personal challenge of pushing our bodies and minds to be as available as it can be for the day’s work and in preparation to perform for almost 3 hours for the show.

Break time with the cast members.

Sometimes in the work, it becomes intense because some of the issues we deal with are all real. The competition, the actual fatigue and the pushing of our boundaries physically be it in acrobatic throws, muscle aches, or repeating a crazy cardio dance number many times to perfection. While preparing for the show has its intensities, what makes me return back to rehearsals are not these things. Instead, it is the warm, loving and accepting ensemble and director who I work with every day. They push you, love you and respect you for your individuality, even if it means translating instructions and treating you as an equal no matter where you’re from, what language you speak or how old you are.

Being a Dancer as part of Alberto Velasco’s ‘Dance to Death’ for one of the biggest art festivals, the El Grec festival in Barcelona is truly an honor. It comes with a lot of hard work, beyond what I had ever imagined was required of a professional performer. However, every ensemble member and Alberto himself makes every intense, funny and tiring moment so worth it. While, I have learnt so much, there is so much more to be learnt from the experience. I am looking forward to the show and from what I have been rehearsing so far, it seems like it is going to be an awesome show indeed!

‘Dance to Death’ takes place 28,29,30 July and tickets are available here:

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