Roger Lee Dance pays tribute to Chris J. Brewer (1992-2012) this weekendMar 6th, 2013 | By Roger Lee | Category: Roger's Dance Notes
by Roger Lee for the Dance Journal
With just a few days before the opening of Roger Lee Dance Take 2, I find myself reflecting on our first year as a company. Since our debut last April, Roger Lee Dance has been on a journey full of triumph, tragedy, and hope. It is hard to believe that just one year…365 days…12 months can bring along so many life experiences!
Roger Lee Dance debuted at The Performance Garage on April 20, 2012. Our opening night saw a full house of supportive friends, family, dance lovers, local residents, and Performance Garage regulars. As I peered into the crowd from backstage, I began to thank God for this awesome opportunity to share my passion for dance with the audience. It was a blessing to dance my own choreography in my hometown after overcoming a dance-threatening injury.
I had no idea how the first show would pan out. But I knew that I was living out my dream. No matter what I knew that this opening night performance would be a defining moment in my dance career and life. As the hour-long show came to a close and the house lights came up, the 8-member company was greeted with a standing ovation, whistles, and smiles of appreciation. The question and answer session full of inspiring words of wisdom, comments on the choreography, and questions about the future of Roger Lee Dance confirmed that my company dream had officially become a reality.
After a few months of rest and relaxation, Roger Lee Dance held auditions in the summer. This resulted in the addition of four new dancers. One was a young videographer and chef by the name of Chris J. Brewer.
I was first introduced to Chris by one of the original company dancers and ended up hiring him to film our rehearsals and debut concert last April. One day during at a company rehearsal Chris put down his video camera and unexpectedly began breakdancing. I was so impressed that asked him to put down the camera for good and join the company as a professional dancer for season 2. I will never forget the joy on Chris’ face when he accepted the company dancer position. He gladly stepped away from the video camera and stepped out on the dance floor with the rest of us last July.
Chris was also a part of the Roger Lee Dance Take 2 promotional photo shoot conducted by Nathaniel Dodson of Endy Photography. I could have never imagined that Chris’ professional headshot would be featured two weeks later—at his own funeral. On August 3, 2012, Chris J. Brewer unexpectedly passed away at the age of 20. The devastating news and shocking loss really hit the company hard. We had grown close to Chris and felt as if we had lost a brother. Roger Lee Dance paid its respects at Chris’ funeral and decided to dedicate its second concert, Take 2, to his loving memory. But none of this could bring Chris back. We longed for the chance to see him again, dance with him again, and say our goodbyes to him. After a company discussion we decided that we should deal with Chris’ death in the best way we know how—through live dance performance.
Saying goodbye to Chris J. Brewer was the inspiration behind my new work “Dear Chris.” The emotional piece features the full company saying their goodbye messages to Chris through both spoken word and dance. It is our way of healing, putting our heart-felt words into the atmosphere, and sharing Chris’ loving memory with the audience. It is also our way of celebrating the life of a talented young man who was gone entirely too soon.
In just one year…365 days…12 months Roger Lee Dance has suffered the loss of one of its newest dancers. However, though weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning. The company will also have the honor of celebrating his life the new piece “Dear Chris.” The piece will close out the first act of Roger Lee DanceTake 2 this weekend. We are anxiously awaiting the chance to celebrate the life of Chris J. Brewer on stage. It is the least we can do to pray honor to our brother. We invite the community out to celebrate Chris with us. We hope to see you there.
Roger Lee Dance Take 2 (In Loving Memory of Chris J. Brewer, 1992-2012)
March 8 and 9 at 8 pm
March 10 at 2 pm
The Performance Garage
1515 Brandywine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
$15 Tickets at www.danceboxoffice.com or www.rogerleedance.com