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The Dance Enthusiast Asks The Ailey School

The Dance Enthusiast Asks The Ailey School
Sammi Sowerby / Follow on Instagram

By Sammi Sowerby / Follow on Instagram
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Published on April 9, 2013
Sammi Lim

The Dance Enthusiast Asks The Ailey School Dancers: What is it like to be a Dancing Horse?

Sammi Lim caught up Samantha Vastine and Irving Amigon at Grand Central Station to find out

April 9th, 2013

Sammi Lim for The Dance Enthusiast

About the show from the official website (click here for more info):
Chicago-based artist Nick Cave transformed Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall with a herd of thirty colorful life-size horses that broke into choreographed movement—or “crossings”— twice a day, accompanied by live music. The project was presented by Creative Time and MTA Arts for Transit as part of a series of events celebrating the centennial of Grand Central.

Performances took place twice daily at 11:00AM and 2:00PM in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall from March 25-31, 2013.


Part of Nick Cave's Heard NY- The Cast Getting Dressed; Photo Video Still from The Dance Enthusiast

Interview with Dancers, Irving Amigon & Samantha Vastine:

The Dance Enthusiast: How did your journey with The Ailey School begin?

Samantha Vastine: I came from Colorado three years ago to learn dance and simultaneously get my BFA from the Ailey School. Ailey had the perfect combination of both.

Irving Amigon: I was interested in attending auditions because one of my teachers at the University of Minnesota trained at The Ailey School. She’s one of my role models.


Part of Nick Cave's Heard NY- A Horse, Of Course ; Photo Video Still from The Dance Enthusiast


TDE: What was it like being in costume for HEARD NY? Is seems like a real workout dancing under those huge structures.

Amigon: Yeah, because on top of the costume, you’re wearing an outfit that’s really heavy. You have pants, a shirt that’s made out of raffia, and a cape from the ‘head’ that drapes over your body - I’m one of the people in the back.

Vastine: I’m a butt also. *Laughs* You have to learn to work with your costume and watch your movements, knowing that it will influence your actions.

TDE: Could you see through the costumes?

Amigon: As the dancer in the rear, I couldn’t see anything, but it was so nice to hear laughter and giggling.




Part of Nick Cave's Heard NY- The Eager Audience ; Photo Video Still from The Dance Enthusiast


TDE: Did the ‘horses’ intimidate children in the crowd?

Amigon: Once, students from the Junior division at the Ailey School came to see the show, and I asked one of them, “Did you like the horses?” His mom told me that he was really scared of the ‘little creatures.’ (The dancers in the back kind of looked like little brown, furry things.) And then the kid started crying! He said, “I didn’t like those brown things!

TDE: How much training was involved?

Vastine: There was a 3-hour rehearsal the Saturday before the performances and a dress rehearsal at Grand Central on Sunday. Approximately 6-hours in all!

TDE: What was it like working with Nick Cave and William Gill?

Vastine: Cave is very, very nice. I think he has an amazing vision, bringing Heard NY to life. The way he presents his art in public is really unique and engaging. Gill is so funny. He’s great at improvisation.






Part of Nick Cave's Heard NY- A Lineup of Horses ; Photo Video Still from The Dance Enthusiast

TDE: What do you deem most challenging about the dance?

Vastine: I definitely did not expect it to be as hard. You’re walking behind your partner, you have your hands on her hips, and you think, “Oh, I could do this for days.” Then you get the costume on. You can’t see anything, it feels like a sauna, you’re figuring out the hand signals and trying to hear the music over the sound of the kids… It’s a lot of mental strain, but it gets easier.

TDE: What was most fun about the public performance?

Amigon: Kids in the audience say things like, “Come here, horsey!” Sometimes you feel people petting you. Overall, it’s been such a rewarding experience. People genuinely appreciate the dance and the experience feels so heart-warming.





For more information on HEARDNY, click HERE.







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