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This is the very first post of our new Experience Director, Allegra Padilla! We look forward to more updates from Allegra in 2016!

Last week, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre’s Duck Truck Residency Program held the culminating performance of our collaboration with East LA Performing Arts Magnet. It was my first week as the new Experience Director at Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, and this performance provided a great opportunity to see up close how the Duck Truck program works!

I could feel the excitement in the air as the group of 20ish students, 4 HDDT dancers and teachers set up a couple hundred chairs, as well as the Duck Truck itself and ran through warm ups together. I stepped in and introduced myself to everyone saying I was going to be photographing their performance. Some of the youth shied away from me at first, but as time went on I became part of the background and the focus shifted fully to preparing for the performance.

Before the performance the HDDT team interviewed the students and teachers. The students started off shy but by the end of the brief interview they shouted, “Thank you Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre!”

As performance time drew near the students rushed to set up more chairs–there was a bigger audience than anticipated! A hush fell over the crowd as the music began and the performers took their spots. Dancers entered the performance space from all sides using maps, chairs, their bodies and the trailer to tell the story. I loved getting to see how captivated the youth in the audience were watching their peers performing. They also enjoyed seeing the professional dancers who even performed on top of the trailer! HDDT staff presented certificates of completion to the students in front of the audience; the applause and smiles were strong.

During the ‘Quack Back’ (an after-performance talk-back discussion) we got questions from the school’s staff and students, ranging from “Are you married?” to “How does breakdancing get you gigs?” When the event was over, a small group of students stayed behind to keep talking with HDDT about future opportunities to get involved and where to go for dance classes. The stage crew students helped us with the glamorous task of cleaning up. It was truly wonderful to be part of such a supportive and creative educational community.

Afterwards we closed up the trailer and left the doors of opportunity open for the next stop in the Duck Truck’s creative journey. Stay tuned for the next educational adventure with the beloved Duck Truck!