I had a super fun time performing “3 Hats,” my first solo skate dance piece, at the 6th Avenue Skating Place yesterday. I have a lot more to say about why I did this at the end of this blog.
But first off, here’s the performance.
Special thanks to Kenny Hoff for the amazing videography. We’re so lucky to have him in our community.
And my friend Emy shot these fun pics of me during my performance.
I also dug these promo shots I took to get folks hyped about it.
- “Putting on the Ritz” by Pomplamoose
- “Cookie” by NewJeans
- “I’m Fresh” by Joey Valence and Brae
Okay, so why did I do this?
I am nearly three years into my rhythm skate journey. And this felt like the right time to put something out there that represents my own story and passions. I had really three goals in mind:
- Share my own artistic journey as a dancer
- Document the skate moves and tricks that I’ve been working on
- Confront my discomfort and nervousness around performing
The seeds of this piece go back to the Panther Skate Plaza fundraiser party I attended a few months ago. A highlight of the night was a series of short skate performances put on for the crowd. Watching Alitta, Michelle, Cedric / Spin Man and Elliot do their pieces, I realized that all it took to put on a winning performance was the right song and a willingness to go out there and share yourself. You didn’t have to do mind blowing tricks or have intricate choreography memorized. It was just trusting the audience to go along with you on your journey.
It was that energy that I wanted to bring into my piece — telling a personal story using music that I loved and movement that felt good to me.
I had an idea to have three acts to my performance, using three very different songs. It took some shuffling around, but I finally landed on these three bangers:
- “Putting on the Ritz” by Pomplamoose: a jazzy but funky intro, hearkening back to my lindy hop, vernacular jazz roots. I knew this would be a fun song to do hat tricks to!
- “Cookie” by NewJeans: embracing my love of k-pop and baking! Also perfect for dipping.
- “I’m Fresh” by Joey Valence and Brae: Taking it back to the roots of hip-hop, but with a fresh take by these young artists channeling early Beastie Boys. I can’t help but jam hard when this song comes on.
It also felt like the right time to work on a solo skate piece as I enter into my third year as a rhythm skater. The first year, I organized a large group performance: the “Skate Sham.” Then last year, Deep and I put together a two-person piece. Doing a solo piece was the logical next step!
The piece came together in about six weeks of workshopping and testing out ideas, most of which was done in the final three. Two weeks ago, I asked David Miles if I could perform it on Sunday at 6th Avenue, since the Church of 8 Wheels typically runs that party. David agreed and then we coordinated music and timing together.
And then I did it!
Was it perfect? Of course not. I didn’t land as hard any of tricks I had planned, particularly the Dee Hat Spin, which I’ve been drilling for weeks. I unexpectedly dropped my last hat and had to recover it in the last act.
Did people enjoy it? Yes! I think I did a great job really selling the performance to the audience and being in the moment when I was dancing. The most successful trick was pretending to drop the hat so I could do a jazz split to pick it up. A classic bit of juggling showmanship.
I think I may do some version of “3 Hats” again for a future skate showcase, which several folks have already asked about. Stuff to work on next time:
- More hat tricks! (I forgot to do my favorite trick, the “elevator”!)
- Switch out the last hat for my skully so I don’t have to think about it while doing jam skate tricks
- More elaborate hat / costume changes?
- Audience participation — everyone throws a hat at the end!