Name: Jarel D. Waters
Hometown: Flint, Michigan
I believe that my early training as a tap dancer and later as a Dunham dancer shaped me into the dancer and artist that I am. I’m very particular about rhythm and timing. As long as I can feel and understand the timing of a dance, I can basically do just about anything no matter what style of dance it is. I’m also very good at mimicking what I see and adding my own flavor to it or, not adding it so that I can be exactly what the choreographer needs me to be.
My favorite thing about performing and dancing is that I feel a direct connection to the universe and my creator. For me it’s a spiritual journey that allows me to communicate directly with God and in turn touch the souls and spirits of the people who are witnessing me perform. I have worked very hard on my technique since I got a late start on other dance forms, other than Tap, at age 18. I remember my very first NYC audition at that age. The faculty at that particular institution told me that I would never be a dancer and that my best hope was for a Tap dance career and to open my own studio. By the next year I worked hard to prove them wrong and was accepted into The Ailey School. I feel that when people feel a connection with me from watching me perform that it’s actually me being used as a vessel by God to give them whatever it is that they need to feel something or be inspired.
My warm up ritual is very simple. I take a very hot shower, do jumping jacks, twenty push ups, and an ab workout. After that I stretch for about thirty minutes. I’m currently working on my splits and getting my hips to gain more flexibility.
In my dance bag are my very essentials. No matter what style of dance I’m working on I always have my tap shoes with me. They remind me where I started from. A screw driver, a towel, deodorant, lotion and Vaseline, band aids, sports tape, pain killers, a tennis ball, a water bottle, and pens and a notebook to take notes.
I think of myself not as a dancer, but as an artist and the most rewarding aspect of being an artist is sharing your gift. Being able to travel the world and have people deeply moved by your artwork is beyond words. I try to walk the tightrope of life and remain balanced. I try not to be to arrogant and also not be to full of self doubt. I keep my diet varied and full of protein and I take long walks around the city to have personal spiritual time and be thankful for who and where I am.
What led me to work with Daniel is that the movement is very unnatural for me. Thus, it makes me go so far beyond my comfort zone that I either completely let go and am elevated as an artist or I can get stuck in frustration. You really can’t use a mirror to check yourself out because the focus is very much apart of the movement. So you’re led to trust in him completely to tell you if you’re going in the right direction, and Daniel is one of the few that I can trust to tell me the truth without diminishing my spirit. His notes and corrections always come from a place of care and respect for the art form and the artist that he works with. It also resonates with me that some of the work can be very abstract but you still understand what’s going on. In his choreography he captures an emotion in a way that nobody else does but is still understandable and relatable.
The process of The Oracle is a mystery to me. Every rehearsal there are changes and something new to discover and instead of analyzing it I enjoy the beauty of the unknown. Typically the unknown is frightening for the average person but I trust Daniel’s vision and I trust myself as an artist. If you can’t trust the vision of the choreographer and/or are to full of self doubt then nothing can ever get accomplished and fear will hold you captive.
The most challenging part of the work is the partnering, learning to really rely and depend on people. I have rarely been lifted. I’m very comfortable with discovering points on a person’s body to accomplish the work, but I’m very uncomfortable when that role is switched. I can’t help but laugh to myself because every time it comes to me being lifted I completely freak out.
I believe people should come see The Oracle because of the art of it and the artists performing it. It will transcend you to a place of discovery that is familiar in a personal aspect or something that you experienced as a witness. It’s very direct in that way. I don’t think anybody will leave the experience feeling as if they have no connection with it at all. People will see a community and the behind the doors action of couples and what they are going through. Then you will see what happens when the community all comes together in their own traditional element. It’s definitely going to be a very powerful experience.
Jarel first danced with the Company in 2007, while still a student at the University of Michigan, when DGDC came to Ann Arbor to perform Encore.