From Farragut to San Francisco

Dancing duo earn special opportunity

Kara Good, 15, a sophomore at Farragut High School, and Micah McKee, 16, a sophomore at Paideia Academy, traveled to Charlotte, N. C., in February to put their talent on the line.

These Farragut girls wanted to earn a shot at participating in “intensive” — in fact rigorous — nearly month-long dance training in San Francisco this summer.

“LINES is very difficult to get into,” said their instructor, Lisa McKee, Micah’s mother who is artistic director at Studio Arts for Dancers in Rocky Hill. “If you’re not an advanced classical ballerina, you couldn’t pass the auditions.”

The girls went through a two-hour advanced ballet audition in Charlotte.

“They’re in there with professionals up to age 24 who are trying to gain acceptance into the professional summer program,” Lisa McKee said. “You’ve got the 15-year-old from Knox [County], Tennessee who’s in the same room with a 24-year-old who might have a master’s in dance. They’re not competing for the same programs, but it could be intimidating. You’re dancing, but you don’t know what they’re looking for.”

Both girls made the cut that day. but are taking slightly different paths in San Francisco.

“You never know what they’re looking for,” Lisa McKee said. “I was expecting them to make it, but at the same time an audition is an audition. There are so many people in the class you might be passed over. I was thrilled they made it.”

“I am so happy and honored to have been accepted into such a wonderful program, and I am anxious to start working with everyone there,” Good said. “I look forward to working with all the amazing teachers there, such as Alonzo King, the founder of the company. I also look forward to the focus on individuality as a dancer and being exposed to different movement styles. I hope to come back with a better understanding of what the professional dance world is like and also to continue to develop my technique and freedom of expression.” 

With her acceptance in the bag, Micah took one more chance and sent a 15-minute audition video of herself to San Francisco Conser-vatory of Dance. She would have gone to the audition in person, but was in one of the studio’s Go! performances that day.

“I have been wanting to go to San Francisco Conservatory of Dance because it is so rich and rigorous,” Micah said. “I am most intrigued by this program’s desire to develop my individuality and to grow me as an aspiring artist and dancer. I have heard only good things about this program, and so I want to dive into its training and experience it for myself. My goal is to further my dance vocabulary and to dig deeper into the soul of my movement.”

The friends are set to fly together to San Francisco and attend month-long intensives down the street from each other. They’ll be met at the airport in July by one of Lisa McKee’s former students, now a liver doctor there.

Classes will live up to their name, their teacher said — five to six hours a day, plus two hours of choreography, six days a week. The students will be creating works over the four weeks and will present a show at the end that’s open to the public.

“They’re athletes,” she said about her students. “They have to have a doctor’s release signed that they can stand the rigors of this. They’re not only dancing, they’re lifting each other and partnering. When you’re a normal athlete, you get to wear $150 tennis shoes. We’re barefoot. We’re skin on ground. It’s very painful, but it’s very glorious.”