Today we have 10 Questions With… Roger Lee…
1. How did you become involved with dance?
In 2001, at the age of 12, I auditioned for the first FOX 29 Good Day Philadelphia Hip-Hop Dance Team. I auditioned with over 300 amazingly trained dancers and was selected as one of 12 original team members. From that moment on I knew that dance was my calling. I have been pursuing it ever since!
2. What are you currently doing in the field?
I am the newest company member for SHARP Dance Company, a professional modern-based company in Philadelphia (www.sharpdance.org). I also work as a freelance choreographer, performer, producer and dance illustrator (www.rogerleecreations.com). I am also exploring a career as a dance journalist and blogger, writing for Dance Advantage (danceadvantage.net). My latest dance writing can also found in the latest edition of Dance Magazine College Guide 2011-2012. In addition, I am completing coursework to obtain my Masters in Arts Administration from Drexel University, focusing on public relations and management for the performing arts.
3. Would you share a special moment from your career with readers?
I will never forget dancing the opening solo in Danny Buraczeski’s American masterpiece Swing Concerto. I performed the full-length classic with the Ursinus College Dance Company during the 2009-2010 season. Our company engaged in a year-long reconstruction process that included working with Danny Buracezski and performing the piece at the American College Dance Festival. The biggest thrill for me was premiering the piece at Ursinus College in the new Lenfest Theater. As the curtain rose and the music wailed, I had an indescribable experience while dancing the opening solo. It was an honor to perform for the campus community and become the first African-American to perform the lead role in the piece’s 18-year existence. That is a performance that I will never forget!
4. What is the best advice you have ever received from a teacher or mentor regarding dance?
One of my dance mentors once told me to give 1,000 percent each time I take the stage. I have held on to that golden rule, giving all that I have physical, emotionally, and spiritually in each performance. Whether it is for an audience of thousands or an audience of ten, I was taught to always strive for my personal best and make a real effort to connect with every audience.
5. What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge has been overcoming injury. As a college sophomore I suffered a dance-related injury that left me questioning my future in the field. Through hard work, determination, and God’s grace I was able to come back and dance stronger than ever. It was a year of long suffering, blood, sweat, and tears, but it was also a year of triumph and growth. I developed a testimony and a greater appreciation for dance. The ability to dance is a true blessing that is taken for granted.
6. Do you have any advice for dancers who want to go on to a professional career?
My advice to aspiring professional dancers is to stay unique! Spend time developing your own sense of self, artistry, and reasons for dancing. Let your passion shine through your dancing in a unique way. Do not waste time comparing yourself to other dancers, beating yourself up, and trying to fit into a mold. Simply be the best “you” that you can be and set your own personal measures of success. Uniqueness is what will take you far and bring longevity to your career.
7. Do you have a special routine that you go through prior to a performance?
Before every performance I stretch, drink water, spend time talking with other performers, and engaging in prayer. I like to be in as calm, focused, and relaxed as possible before going on stage, even in the midst of extreme excitement and anxiety.
8. Do you have a favorite dancer or choreographer? If so, who are they and why do you like them?
My favorite dancer is Danny Tidwell, a soloist for the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. He is also well known as the runner-up on season 3 of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance and for his work with American Ballet Theater. My favorite choreographer is Alvin Ailey of the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
9. What do you enjoy most about your life in dance?
I enjoy the excitement that a dance life brings. There is never a dull moment in the field! Whether I am rehearsing for a show, choreographing, producing, directing, consulting, or nurturing young talent, I am always learning something new. I also love the fact that dance is eternal. It is never ending and you can never truly master it. It will challenge you all the days of your life. These are just some of the reasons why I love dance and am grateful to have it be such a major part of my life.
10. What is next for you?
I would like to choreograph for professional dance companies in New York, Washington D.C. and all over the country. I also want to bring affordable, quality, and effective Public Relations services to professional companies, producers, directors, and independent artists. I want to draw a stronger connection between dance and the public. I think the bridging tool is Public Relations. I would be honored to be a leading force in Public Relations for dance. I plan on pursuing this goal after graduating from Drexel this December.
BIO: Roger Lee is a dance and visual artist, journalist, and arts administrator from Philadelphia, PA. Roger began his dance career as an original member and Co-Captain for FOX 29’s Good Day Philadelphia Dance Team. He went on to major in dance and graduate from Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts (2005), Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (2006) and Ursinus College, Magna Cum Laude, with a B.A. in both Dance and Media & Communication Studies (2010). Roger is currently completing coursework to obtain his M.S. in Arts Administration from Drexel University. Outside of the classroom, he has danced professionally and choreographed for several local companies and has been published nationally in the Dance Magazine College Guide 2011-2012. Roger also offers fine art, design, choreography and event services through www.rogerleecreations.com