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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette



(Posted 19/05/13)

All the Internet's a stage for groundbreaking dancer, choreographer
By Heather.Paszkowski
Special to Orléans Online

Orléans native and former Leeming Danceworks student Emma Portner is gaining a large You Tube following for her collaborative dance videos with friend and partner Matt Luck. Emma Portner/Photo

Growing up in Orléans, 17-year-old dancer and choreographer Emma Portner always dreamed about leaving the suburbs and moving to the big city.

Last summer, after spending her entire life in Orléans and training at Leeming Danceworks, she packed her belongings and moved to an 80 sq. ft. apartment in New York City to broaden her artistic horizons

From the moment she arrived in the Big Apple her life felt different, she was forced to be more independent than ever, a reaction experienced by many first year students but amplified since her city of choice was New York. She was taking dance classes amongst some of the best in the world. Everything was new and everyday offered a new challenge.

She searched for answers to the questions every eager artist seeks “How will I ever be able to shine in a city that was more brilliant than any other? How will I showcase my abilities and get recognized? “

Everything changed last October. when Emma met Matt Luck. The two became friends and collaborators and soon began experimenting with new forums of showcasing dance.

There had been a lot of dance videos popping up on Facebook and You Tube, but sadly it was hard to appreciate the performance or the choreography because posting online was an afterthought, not the purpose.

Emma and Matt wanted to bridge the gap between what they loved, the art of dance, and the forum they can’t live without, social media. They created choreography that catered to an experience for on-line viewers, they conceptualized angles to showcase details that would be missed if watching live and used lighting and high definition cameras to highlight the choreography.

This merging of arts and social media was exciting. As Emma and Matt uploaded their first collaboration “Dancing in the Dark” they had no idea what the reaction would be and they were unprepared for what came next. The video went viral with over 50,000 views in the first 72 hours. The video now has over 300,000 hits on You Tube and Vimeo.

Emma and Matt couldn’t believe how many people were taking the time to watch their video, or post commens such as this from PaoloSLCoreographer: "Oh my god.... This is DANCE! Amazing .... It's incredible ... I can't describe how i feel when i watch this .... You are? my idol ... "

Who could have ever imagined that a young girl with big dreams from Orléans would be noticed for her dancing by people all over the world.

Although posting their work online did open them up to criticism, this paled in comparison to the positive feedback Emma and Matt have received. Emma has been touched by the kid comments made by complete strangers who say she is their inspiration.

Before she knew it, Emma was being contacted by some of her biggest dance idols in North America and being offered opportunities that she once had only dreamed of.

Since releasing “Dancing in the Dark” last fall, her videos have been featured on many blogs and on-line forums such as Buzzfeed and Iwastesomuchtime.com. In addition, “Dancing in the Dark” was picked up by an International Short Film Festival in Paris and Amsterdam.

Emma’s dancing was performed on a giant screen and it’s hard for her to fathom the reach the Internet has brought to her art. Since its release she has had the privilege of travelling across the US and Canada performing and dancing alongside some phenomenal teachers and choreographers.

Emma has since continued to embrace the concept of creating for social media with the specific intention of being able to showcase her work to a broader audience. A simple Google search of Emma Portner on You Tube and Vimeo provides an array of unique dancing montages such as another dance collaboration with Matt entitled “Staring at the Stars”, or a solo performance in “School Night”.

Emma fundamentally feels that dance will always be most suited to be experienced live but recognizes the potential of a virtual stage.

“Nothing compares to the intimacy of sitting in a small space and feeling the palpable energy of dance," says Emma. "When it comes down to the essence of why I create, it’s to share a part of who I am and express how I feel.

"I will never define success by the number of views something receives on youtube or likes on facebook. I feel blessed and privileged to be able to create and feel continuously inspired by the talent and energy of those around me.”

To view "Daning in the Dark" visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlJfdk742Pw. "Staring at the Stars" can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=wioqIdqOTiY.

Besides being an exceptional dancer and choreogrpher Emma is also an extremely talented photographer. A collection of her work can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/EmmaPortner/photos.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)



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