It took a trip to Israel for Meisha Bosma to realize that she just had to cut loose and dance full-time.
Bosma, 31, is the founder and director of BosmaDance, a professional dance company based in Springfield, where she lives.
With the creation of her company in June, 2004, Bosma said she has moved one step closer to realizing her dream of establishing at least one full-time dance studio space in Northern Virginia, where her group can perform and offer classes to the community.
"I just feel that communities that don’t have a good dance community are missing out on something, especially for children. They are not exposed here to dance and expressing themselves and their bodies," said Bosma.
Hailed by critics as "solidly crafted" and "intriguing and well-presented," BosmaDance’s performances since its inception last June have drawn favorable reviews from The Washington Post and others. A February review of her show "In Plaster" said the performance "cut a … fine line between the abstract (or metaphorical) and the literal."
A journalism major in college, Bosma came to the metro D.C. area to study at American University, but when she finished her master’s programs in 2001, Bosma was sure her career path was taking her toward teaching, not performing.
"That’s what I was gearing everything toward — education with dance being the subject I would teach," she said.
In 2002, however, Bosma received an offer to dance professionally with the Kombina Dance Company, a professional dance company located in Israel, and for the next year and a half she traveled throughout Israel and many parts of Europe with the company. That trip was just the ticket to both shake up and redefine Bosma’s direction in life.
"I’m not Jewish and I don’t know anyone in Israel, but there was something about the movement that was coming from that country that was very different from the contemporary American style of dance," said Bosma. "I really connected to that."
A YEAR and a half after she went to Israel, Bosma returned in 2002 with a dream of trying to make her dream of being a full-time dancer work in America.
"Dancing from nine to five, five days a week, paid vacation, health vacations, it was very easy to see my dream come alive, because it exists there," she said.
Bosma pounded the pavement, and shortly after returning to Northern Virginia, she was fortunate to find favor with the Alexandria Performing Arts Association (APAA), a non-profit organization which offers financial assistance to artists in Northern Virginia.
"We had dance on our list, but we weren’t actively looking for anything, so she just kind of dropped out of the sky," said Jim Fraser, director of the APAA. "We have a history of spinning off organizations, and I know that Meisha wants to be independent eventually, but we’re very happy to continue to support her programs."
For Bosma, who knew she couldn’t pay her own way to produce shows for much longer, the involvement with a patron like the APAA was a godsend.
"I didn’t want to spend $5,000 of my money and get maybe $1,000 back in ticket sales," said Bosma of her method of production while in graduate school. "It was because you loved it."
The APAA’s involvement paid off immediately, as they commissioned Bosma to choreograph and perform a 50-minute production, which premiered in June, 2004 at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria. The production, called "Blind Spot," focused on
"all the areas in life you keep hidden and don’t want to look at, and at some point they come out to find you," according to Bosma.
With financial backing, Bosma was able to construct six costumes, hire a photographer and videographer who contributed to the work visually, and even pay her dancers, who had been collaborating with her for free for some time.
The attendance was sparse on opening night, but for Bosma performing "Blind Spot" on stage with the approval of a legitimate arts organization was a dream come true.
"It was amazing, it was the best feeling to know that I had validation from an organization supporting me," said Bosma. "So many times as an artist, you feel alone that you’re just out there trying to share something with someone. It’s scary, and knowing I had their approval was really exciting."
THE GROUP of dancers, who became known as BosmaDance soon after the June 2004 show, continued to perform portions of "Blind Spot" around the metro D.C. area in 2004, including a spot in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s "Choreographers’ Showcase." On May 7, "Blind Spot" will premiere in Washington, D.C. at Dance Place.
Although her company has experienced success in its first year, Bosma remains a nomad in her professional life, teaching at a handful of different locations across Northern Virginia to provide a steady income. Through Creative Cauldron, a new arts instruction non-profit, she teaches movement at Baileys Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences in Falls Church, and Louise Archer Elementary in Vienna, as well as teaching at Fairfax Ballet and the new Music Center at Strathmore in Maryland. That lifestyle, and that of her dancers, most of whom all work "normal" jobs, means that BosmaDance can only rehearse once a week, on Sundays, from 1-6 p.m.
"I enjoy (teaching), but I wait for Sundays, to have five or six hours with my dancers, because that is the best day of the week where I can be creative, and I’m thinking about it all week long," said Bosma.
Currently, a new production, called "Handle With Care," is in the works. It focuses on various aspects of human life which are fragile, using imagery of skin, dead leaves, and relationships to evoke a connection with members of the audience. Contemporary dance, the genre in which BosmaDance performs, is abstract expression on stage, where unlike ballet, the dancers don’t wear shoes, and the choreography incorporates more contemporary movement along with traditional steps and movements. Bosma said while contemporary dance is not as well known as ballet or other dance forms, she feels comfortable with the ways in which it can connect with the audience on varying levels.
"People in Northern Virginia don’t know where they can see contemporary dance, and they might not know what contemporary dance is," said Bosma. "I think that’s what my challenge is now — to get more people in Northern Virginia to know what it is and how they can enjoy it and to start to create a buzz around the area so my company can do more work where I think it’s needed — here."