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Lyndsey is building a dance career in the Big Apple

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Bermudian Lyndsey Arorash is building a career in dance in New York City (Photograph supplied)

If you have watched HBO Max lately, you might have noticed a familiar face.

Bermudian dancer Lyndsey Arorash features in a new documentary on the television channel called Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance.

Ms Arorash, a selected dancer, is seen multiple times through the documentary on jazz dance history.

The 23 year old from Pembroke said it was a little disorienting to see herself on television for the first time.

“It was so weird,” Ms Arorash laughed. “I did not want to look, honestly. Dancers are perfectionists. We see all the mistakes. But it was huge for me.”

The film features dance legends such as Debbie Allen, but Ms Arorash did not get to meet any of them. The filmmakers had to travel out of New York to do those interviews.

Ms Arorash became involved through a professor at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York where she was studying dance.

“I was taking a class with a choreographer called Sekou McMiller,” Ms Arorash said. “We were doing some jazz dance, and they were filming.”

She noticed her teacher talking to another teacher, film producer Lisa Donmall-Reeve.

At the end of class Ms Donmall-Reeve approached Ms Arorash, gave her the run down on Uprooted, which she was producing, then asked for her contact details.

"It was exciting to be chosen,“ Ms Arorash said.

Bermudian Lyndsey Arorash appears in a new HBO Max documentary on jazz (Photograph supplied)

Everything happened very quickly.

“We had a short three-hour rehearsal one day,” she said. “Filming lasted pretty much all of the next day. They had to take multiple takes of the dancers, and do close-up shots. They had their own make-up artist.”

Ms Arorash had been on camera for a few small projects, but this was her first big production.

“The most challenging thing was making sure that I got it right every time,” she said.

“I was also working with people I had not worked with before. I had to make sure that we were on the same page in terms of movement, and facial expressions. It was about becoming comfortable in my body to be comfortable in front of the camera.”

Uprooted started streaming exclusively on HBO Max on February 1, after doing the film festival circuit for several months. Uprooted has won numerous awards including Best Documentary 2021 at the New Hope Film Festival, in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Best Documentary 2021 at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, and Best Editing at the 2021 Scad Savannah Film Festival in Savannah, Georgia.

Ms Arorash moved to New York seven years ago to study dance. After graduating from the Joffrey Ballet School, she took further classes at the Peridance Centre in the Big Apple. She graduated from there in October, 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. In December of that year she was granted a one-year work visa in the United States, as part of her training.

That allowed her to take part in choreographer Drew Dollaz’s show Imperfect, held outdoors at the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Centre Plaza in New York City last September.

“The performance was on the Restart Stages,” Ms Arorash said.

The show consisted of four dancers and one spoken word artist. There were also solos in the show, which were the dancers’ own choreography.

“It was amazing to dance at the Lincoln Centre,” she said. “The producers and the workers for that show were so genuine and welcoming. The experience with that was one of a kind. The people I was working with for that show were amazing.”

She first became interested in dance at eight years old.

“I saw two girls, who lived next door, dressed in ballet costumes, going off to a dance recital,” she said. “I remember looking at their costumes and thinking, I want to be dressed in that.”

So she started taking a tap class with Brandy Keating at In Motion School of Dance in Hamilton. She fell in love, almost immediately.

“There really wasn’t anything else I enjoyed doing as much as I loved to dance,” she said. “I feel like at that moment I knew this is what I wanted to do, no matter how hard it was going to be, or how many people I would be compared to, that was what I wanted to do.”

Bermudian dancer Lyndsey Arorash loves the freedom in dance (Photograph supplied)

Her favourite style of dance is contemporary fusion.

“I love contemporary, but I also love to do contemporary where there is street jazz styles involved,” she said. “I like anything with intricate movements, or just a groove.”

She also values the community that comes with dance.

“Finding your dance family is essential to helping you get through the dance industry, because it is cut-throat,” she said. “But there is also a lot of freedom and individuality that comes with it.”

But for her, it is the people she dances with, rather than the dance style, that makes for the perfect performance.

Currently, Ms Arorash is applying for an artists’ visa so she can stay in the United States and work as a professional dancer. The catch is that she needs to find a job within 90 days to qualify for the visa.

“I can not work until that comes through,” she said. “So I spend my days catching up on my rest. I work on getting the visa, and I go to the gym to stay fit.”

She said it is easy to get discouraged, but she has friends and family who help her stay optimistic.

“My friends are telling me that it will happen, and just keep working on it,” she said. “As long as I put in the work, it will happen.”

She said it is not an easy process, but she has employed legal support, and is confident they will help her find a way forward.

“If not, I will most likely be looking for other short term schooling options, and just reapply for the visa,” she said.

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Published April 04, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated April 05, 2022 at 8:08 am)

Lyndsey is building a dance career in the Big Apple

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