Early morning on a fall day in October of 2012 I landed in Philadelphia with two suitcases and a backpack. Dazed from the red-eye flight, I hailed a cab to the Double Tree Hotel on Broad Street in Center City. Until that moment, home had always been Irvine, California and the longest I had ever been away was for various intensives and projects in the summer.
I moved across the country to Philadelphia for my first professional job in a company (BalletX) that I had watched in admiration during the Laguna Dance Festival in California just six months before. Everything was new. A new city that I had never stepped foot in until that morning and new people around me that I had yet to meet. I no longer held the title of "student"; I was now considered a "professional dancer." Nervous for all the usual reasons when someone begins something new in their life, missing the familiarity of home, but a buzzing sense of excitement to start. Now that I have been here for a year it doesn't seem as extreme but there are some differences between my home in California and my new home in Philadelphia.
Moving from the suburban utopia of Irvine to the big city life of Philadelphia, I could not have asked for a better life path. Being able to experience life in two cities that are at the opposite ends of the spectrum is a luxury that I feel very fortunate to have come across. One obvious difference between west coast and east coast living is the weather. I love the warmth of California but after moving to Philadelphia, I finally get all four seasons, in which I find so much beauty. Also, what I really enjoy about my life in Philadelphia is not needing a car to get from place to place. Not being in a car daily has allowed me to be able to walk around and see the architecture of the city along with the diverse personalities that fill and decorate the streets and sidewalks. I enjoy the art that is displayed for everyone to see such as the many murals that are painted against building walls and art installments throughout the city. There is so much to take in visually that I sometimes forget I am in a busy, fast paced place and tend to mosey around as people dart and dodge past me on the street (You can ask some of the other dancers in the company who sometimes get frustrated with the slow tempo of my walking).
BalletX has become my family here on the east coast. They have all had a hand in helping me become acquainted with the city, in the transition of becoming a professional and what that entails, and in pushing me as an artist. I feel very fortunate to have joined this company because when I was in a transitional period of finding my home in Philadelphia, I had moments of homesickness and was able to come to work and feel comfort just from being surrounded by all the great artists in the company. Some advice I have for other young artists moving to pursue their careers in the dance world would be to live in the present moment and to not forget why you chose to take this career path. Not many people can say that their job is something they have a passion for. But, because dancers are always working towards translating a choreographer's vision into physical movement, (which in turn is taxing both physically and mentally) it is easy to get caught up in achieving perfection and trying to please those around them. It's good to take a step back and remember why you love to dance.
BalletX Winter Series 2014 is February 12-16 at The Wilma Theater. Visit www.balletx.org for tickets and more information.
Andrea Yorita has been dancing with BalletX since the fall of 2012. Andrea is from Irvine, California, where she received her classical ballet training at Academy of Dance. Andrea graduated in June 2012 with a B.F.A. in Dance Performance from the University of California, Irvine, where she studied under Jodie Gates, Molly Lynch, Diane Diefenderfer, Tong Wang, Michel Gervais, and Loretta Livingston. She has also worked with modern dance legend Donald McKayle as a member of his Etude Ensemble.
BalletX is Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company, performing three times a Season at The Wilma Theater. BalletX unites world-class choreographers with an outstanding company of professional dancers to forge new works of athleticism, emotion, and grace. BalletX is committed to producing new works of the highest quality and integrity that bring the combined visions of choreographers and dancers to life and cultivate in audiences a collective appetite for bold new dance.