Patrick Coker, an Alvin Ailey dancer, will have a full-circle moment at the Making Moves Dance Festival, which will be on an outdoor stage at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in Downtown Jamaica on Sept. 17 and 18.
“Three years ago ... I got to be a part of the Jamaica Making Moves Festival as one of the emerging choreographers,” said Coker, who is planning on making a transition into a full-time choreographer. “It is cool now coming back, getting more support from the organization.”
The festival will be the first time Coker has independently choreographed a dance piece, he said.
“This is my first time hiring dancers, choreographing them and presenting it under my name,” said Coker, 28, who hired five dancers. “This is a really exciting opportunity for me.”
Coker has been dancing since he was 7, but at his high school in Virginia and later Fordham University (2014) he got a taste of what it was like to choreograph a musical piece.
“We had composition classes in school and I started to learn how to make dances,” said Coker. “Once I discovered that, I also loved that too ... it’s something I’ve done parallel to my dance career ... It was something I’ve done as a side project to complement my dancing, but now I’m starting to transition and to put my own work out there.”
Soul Dance Co.: The Soul Experience, the Thomas/Ortiz Dance company, Batingua Arts, sisters Charly and Eriel Santagado, Thuy Wyckoff, Quaba Venza Ernest, Guanglei Hui and the Visions Contemporary Ballet will also present musical numbers at the show at 153-10 Jamaica Ave. at 7 p.m. Details and ticket information can be found at jcal.org.
Getting to see his work presented is like seeing the world in his head come to life, according to Coker.
“It really is my baby,” said the dancer. “It is like giving birth.”
His work will express the ephemeral nature of cherry blossoms, famously found in trees in Japan.
“A couple years ago when my grandmother passed away I was really affected by it,” said Coker about Shinako Masui. “She was the only grandparent ... with a link to my Japanese culture. I took it really hard. Now that I have processed the grief, I want to make a nod to her life ... As a Japanese woman she really loved cherry blossoms. I love what they stand for. They are these beautiful flowers and they bloom for about three weeks — they are miraculous — and then they fade and disappear.”
The flowers remind Coker of the cycle of life within friendships, romantic relationships and familial love.
“We are left without them for so much of the year and they come back,” he said. “I thought about how it relates to life. Out of death comes rebirth. It has such incredible beauty.”
Coker hopes that audience members will cherish their own lives more after seeing the piece.
“Life does not last forever,” said Coker. “Cherish the beautfiul moments while you have them.”