INTERVIEW WITH SWEEK KING LANCE T.
Aaryan: How do you decide the dance lines?
Lance: Well, lines are funny. *chuckles evilly* I decided on the first three lines this year
instead of assigning every single person a spot. We used that method freshman
year, but I personally handcrafted the lines sophomore year. Last year, I decided to
be front row and let everyone else fill in. Overall, I decide lines by watching past
dances and watching rehearsal videos. I am looking to see who sticks out to me
as a dancer. I, being crazy, study sweek videos, and I ask myself why they are good
or bad. What elements do I enjoy, etc? I rewatch our dances a lot to see what we
did right and wrong and to see how different swag, sass, commitment, and
personalities shine through the dance and from which people. Those people…
those committed people… are normally found near the front.
Aaryan: Which method worked the best?
Lance: I think that senior year worked the best because there was a lot less drama.
If people were not where they wanted to be, they had only themselves to blame.
The drawback is that I do not necessarily know where everyone is. Technically, they
could be changing positions every time, and I would not know. But I do think that
they have the common sense and decency to stay in their spots and learn the
Aaryan: How exclusive are you with who is in charge of the spirit week dance?
Lance: I am quite exclusive, which in my mind is a benefit, but I also see why it is
not. At the end of the day, sweek is a communal and shared project. It is
something that the grade puts on, not just Lance puts on. So I did have to reach
out more than I necessarily wanted to because you know how I, being a creative
person, wanted full control over my creative baby. But there is an element of it
opening up and becoming a class, not Lance, project. For example, for only this
year, the dance was something I kept only between me and Ashley, so we alone
did the dance. But I let Elle Thomson, who is absolutely amazing, take on
decorations. However, costumes were more of a grade level responsibility.
Everyone came to Elle’s house and became an assembly line making all of the
costumes which was for one, eliminated a lot of the stress on Elle and I, but also
it was beautiful and very mature which was a nice change of pace from my grade.
But returning to the dance, overall, keeping that aspect of sweek exclusive is
extremely necessary. Establishing my creative boundaries is prominent in every
stage of my life, not just sweek.
Aaryan: What about teaching the dance? Talk a bit about that.
Lance: I am just going to say this. Teaching the dance is a problem because
everyone is working through it in their own ways which I guess is necessary. But
that still needs to be addressed. My way of approaching the teaching of the dance
is, as a theater person, creating a character. That character is known as Drill
Sergeant Lance. It always happens when I am in front of the grade with a speaker
and mic. His approach to teaching is big and scary, demands attention and respect,
and pushes everyone through the dance. He’s a beast. When I started to use DSL,
I was afraid that it would be cringy, weird, ineffective, and overall, not cute. But, I
guess either thanks to him or the grade, when he came out our sophomore year,
people listened and got to moving. It was hard, and there were a lot of distractions.
For example, I had to learn how to read the room, and learn how to deal with those
distractions because those people who are making a ruckus want you to yell at
them because they want to elicit a reaction out of you. And so, I had to read when
to correct that behavior or act like it wasn’t happening. That’s a life skill, a skill
that teachers have to do. For example, last year, some people in my grade thought
it was funny to throw bread at me, Aaryan. I had bread thrown at me, and then
when they ran out of bread, they ran out of granola bars. In that moment, I was livid, literally fuming. But, I just moved on and ignored them. If they have the time and energy to throw bread, they definitely have the energy to rehearse the dance. So I didn’t give them a reaction, and so they stopped because when I started teaching, there was no messing with Drill Sergeant Lance. Basically, teachers are paid, and so should Lance.
Aaryan: I heard that the senior tutus for costumes didn’t come in at all. How did you deal with that?
Lance: It is true. There was a bit of snafu with the tutus, but we had to pivot because we would regret not doing anything. We would regret just leaving it as it was, so we made our own tutus by going to the fabric store and bought as many green, white, sparkly tulle as we could. We dealt, we coped, and our costumes turned out great.
Aaryan: Do you have a favorite SWEEK performance/dance in your four years?
Lance: Well, they are all my babies, so it is just like picking your favorite child: it’s hard. But I will say that my favorite dance of ours is our junior year’s dance because the process of crafting that one was so natural, fluid, and fun. Though teaching it was a struggle, we branched out in a different way of attacking a sweek dance, and that made the risk higher, but also the reward. I mean, we won that category.
Aaryan: What was specifically different about that junior year dance?
Lance: I think what changed was that we approached choreographing as “playing.” We were not getting stuck on any moves, any decisions because it was just playing and seeing what worked. That’s how we were able to choreograph the whole dance in just one day. We approached it like a One Act which explains why it creatively fulfilled me and touched my heart. I mean, we literally had a great final product.
Aaryan: Do you regret anything about your spirit week experience in the past or now?
Lance: I do not, and I consider that a good thing. One motivator I used is to do the work that I would regret not doing later. We only have 4 years of sweek in our life… there's nothing like sweek in the world, so do the work now.
Aaryan: Talk about your senior dance… any prominent differences or similarities?
Lance: Time. Time is what changed. Usually during the summer, grades begin to work on sweek. But that past summer, I was booked and busy and had no time to work on spirit week. So after that summer, during the school year alone, was the only time we had to work on the dance. However, those were also the five weeks that we had to begin decorations, costumes, etc. It was a lot, not to mention school work, college apps, one act auditions, audition materials for me since I want to go to school for musical theater, so my application contents are based on video auditions. Overall, we were working on more of a time constraint because I had to create in order to have ample time to teach it. In the end, I feel so satisfied with our performance this year. We have worked really hard, and I have pushed my grade in ways they probably didn't know they could be pushed, and I pushed myself in ways I didn’t know I could be pushed. I am happy that we were able to put on something we are all proud of. But… in the moment, it was quite quite stressful.
Aaryan: How do you feel about ending your sweek experience?
Lance: That is something I have thought about a little bit, but it hasn’t entirely hit me yet. The day after homecoming, I watched all of our dances and reminisced on what it was like at that time and what it meant at those dif points in time. I was sad that there would be none of that anymore, but with the amount of stress that comes with that, I am ok with that experience coming to an end. I can come to terms with it. *chuckles*
Aaryan: Any final comments?
Lance: No. *chuckles*