She scored a spot in a classic.
A Brooklyn dance student performed in Alvin Ailey’s classic ballet “Memoria,” last weekend at New York City Center. Fort Greene native Shaina McGregor, who is of Jamaican background, is a student of The Ailey School’s Ailey / Fordham program and one of the selected students who was chosen to perform in the timeless piece the legendary dancer choreographed in memory of his friend Joyce Trisler.
Dancing in the nearly four-decade-old piece is a big feat for many students in the school, and after auditioning for a spot in it this fall, McGregor was thrilled to learn she would be one of the lucky students.
“For so many people this is a life-changing experience, and I was floored with happy feelings when I saw an email saying I was chosen,” she said.
It was a dream come true for 20-year-old McGregor who began dancing at four and always had an interest in the dance piece, even making it a goal of hers to perform in it one day. And she is happy to go out with a bang as she completes her senior year with the school.
“It’s my final year and I always wanted to be in “Memoria” — I’ve thought about it since my sophomore year, especially seeing other students in the school performing it with company members,” she said. “It’s my last opportunity to perform something exciting before I graduate, and I get a chance to do this piece.”
The two-part 20-minute dance piece consists of 40 performers and of those are typically 26 students. Being a huge and longtime admirer of the ballet, she said it was an honor for her to explore a prime work she strongly admired.
“I love how the piece evolves. It starts slow and has a mourning type of feel, and as a dancer it is extremely warming to watch,” she said. “It’s a wonderful piece and there’s a portion of it that represents one of Trisler’s long solos, where it’s a lot of traveling but maintains a grace.”
Even though it starts slow-paced, it picks up and concludes with a happy ending that Ailey aspired for, added McGregor.
“The piece ends with a celebration because he didn’t want the dance to be sad and wanted it to end with life,” she said.
Performing the ballet to a crowd for the first time on stage, gave a McGregor a different point of view she never saw before. McGregor said she was in awe as a result of the reactions of the audience.
“When I first walked out I saw so many faces in the audience and I got to see their reactions up close — it was so welcoming,” she said.
She performed in the dance piece on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9. Nearing her graduation, she hopes to continue her work at Ailey and continue branching into her dance career.
“I’m actually a really multi-faceted person. I love dance and I want to be a professional dancer,” said McGregor. “My hopes are to be in the Ailey company and hopefully work with other companies exploring dance.”
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater holiday season playing until Dec. 31 at New York City Center [131 W. 55th St. between Seventh and Sixth avenues in Manhattan. (212) 581-1212, www.nycit