Q: Happy 6th birthday to the Dance Project, James Santos! As the director of The Dance Project, can you still remember what the dance company was like when it was just a baby?
I have always said it was – and still is -like a game of pretend sometimes, just like putting my shows together in my childhood garage. We started by pretending to be a professional company, just doing what felt right. Some would maybe call this visualization, and I do believe in that. I/we visualized having a dance company here, one that could give local artists a place to continue to pursue their passion, but in an atmosphere that was a step up from the regular dance studio recital or community theater environment.
Q: Sounds like The Dance Project today isn’t that different from your dream. Along the way you must have reached milestones in The Dance Project’s development that made you extremely proud. Any you’d like to brag about?
You know whats great about my job? We have many times throughout the year when we are able to see our accomplishments. I am proud of our company on a regular basis, and then at other times feel like we have so much work to do and we will never get it all done. Some of my most proud moments are when I am able to step back from the ongoing creative director side of my job and see as a whole the the amount of people who have been affected by The Dance Project – both from the audience side and our backstage family.
I look at the people who are in OUR TDP family: performers, directors, board members and staff. We watch each other grow. We watch the students graduate and move away, and the adult performers – some have babies, get married, divorced, share a prayer, cry, and through it all, most of all, we see endless amounts of joy.
I guess having something to do with people building relationships and enjoying life makes me proud. Many people who have been a part of our company for the first time say that they always have loved watching our shows but the biggest surprise to them is what it’s like being backstage to experience it from that angle … the creative process and the love and respect we each have for one another.
Q: Of course, to properly celebrate The Dance Project’s birthday you’ll have a party, right?
Yes, of course we’ll have a party, and everyone’s invited. We are so excited about this week’s celebration and fundraiser. You know, not many people ask for money on their birthday, well except the very young. So I guess it fits that we’d have a fundraiser on our birthday since The Dance Project is only 6 years old.
No, honestly, for a long time we’ve wanted to share with our community of supporters an evening like this one on Thursday, and we wanted to add a little bonus performance.
What we’ve planned is a very relaxing evening with wine tasting and pairing appetizers at our friends’ place, Vintner’s Cellar. That part of the party goes from 6-7:30 p.m. After that everyone will head over to the Cascade Theatre for a special performance by the company dancers and singers at 8 p.m.
To end the evening people can enjoy a cupcake or two in the lobby and hang out and talk a bit.
It’s very informal. This is not a big production evening, no huge surprises. I mean, I may make a little speech about our next season, but really it is about fun.
Q: Sounds like fun. Count on seeing some of the team from anewscafe.com there. We wouldn’t miss it … and we’re especially proud to share the sponsorship honor with ArtHop. Feel free to give us a job. We can serve, greet guests, anything except wash dishes, OK?
I have some good jobs for y’all. Most of all some good socializing. Especially when I have to go to get ready to dance. I could not think of a better group to stay and talk.
Q: Shucks. Thanks. You’re making us blush. Anything else you’d like people to know?
I think most of all I would like people to know we are thankful to have support from the community, but it is events like this that help us continue. The Dance Project is a big company with many odds and ends like any business. I am not sure many people understand how much money it really takes to run a dance company. They see how many people come to our shows and think we are doing great. Yes, the audiences help, but we do not see every dollar that comes in to the box office. We have financial obligations to our lovely home, the Cascade Theatre, plus we have to pay for costumes, marketing, sets and the list goes on ad on. One thing we are learning to do is hold fundraisers like this. We are just so thankful to have people come out. We are looking forward to seeing everyone.
Well, I’ll be there, and I’m really looking forward to what will be a terrific evening. James, thanks for all you do to make this community such a culturally rich place. We’re lucky you’re here. See you Thursday.
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Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Northern California in the tiny town of Igo.