Jan 7, 2016
BATAVIA — After taking a few turns running up to a wooden bridge on set and flipping over backwards, choreographer Tara Pocock lets dancer Blake Carter have a try.
He dashes up to the structure, lifts himself up with one foot and begins a somersault in the air. He slaps to the cement floor as Pocock and other dancers gasp.
“I’m good,” he says.
It’s just one of many flips, lifts and tricks in place to dazzle the audience for Pocock’s ninth self-created show. “All You Need is Love” is set to debut at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave.
True to its name, the variety dance show really is about love. Except in this storyline, the real action is off stage, and the affection is for one dancer’s late boyfriend, another’s friends and for 4-year-old Lucy — Pocock’s chihuahua. Half of the proceeds are to help pay for the tiny dog’s surgery of two months ago.
In October, Pocock and her boyfriend noticed that Lucy wasn’t quite right. She stopped eating and wasn’t walking around like she used to. In fact, she seemed to be in pain. The couple took the dog to a vet and learned that she had intervertebral disc disease. It was a level II herniated disc that required emergency surgery.
If Lucy didn’t get the procedure, she’d likely die or at best not be able to walk.
“There was no way we were going to lose our four-legged friend,” Pocock said.
The surgery cost more than $8,000, which the couple financed through a veterinary care plan. Yes, there have been people shocked by her spending such a large amount, but there seemed no alternative. Displaying a strong underbite with her lower teeth poking out her mouth, Lucy belies her appearance. She is “the sweetest dog you could ask for,” Pocock said.
“When I saw Lucy I just fell in love with her. My boyfriend got her from Lollipop Farm, so she’s a rescue. She has become our child,” she said. “If you had to spend $8,000 to save the life of your child would you? There’s no question about it.”
After the operation, Lucy had to be kept still in a cage. She was given physical therapy treatments by her parents and had to balance on a sling when she needed to go outside. Then she graduated to the floor of a guest bedroom, where she was monitored to ensure there was no jumping up or down other furniture. She once again sleeps in her owners’ bed, which is boxed in to make sure she won’t jump down. Lucy has also learned to use doggy steps to get onto a couch or other furniture. Her demeanor seems to indicate an understanding of what she’s been through.
“She has calmed down,” Pocock said. “You can tell she can feel the love.”
Dancer Erin Korn believes the troupe’s movements envelope the love they have “for each other and for Lucy,” she said. Amanda Ball, who has a ballet solo that features her somber expressions, will also be thinking about her boyfriend Brendan. He was killed in June when his car was struck by an Amtrak passenger train in Chili. She plans to dedicate the show to him.
“It’s love, even though I lost him,” she said. “Dancing is the best way to express the feeling of loss. My expression, I think they’ll be able to see the pain in my face and think of the love they’ve lost.”
Rebecca Phelps has dealt with her own loss, that of time during recovery from a car accident. She hasn’t been able to participate in a Pocock show and this will be her first. She finds the floor — a cold concrete foundation with pit marks that can trip up the most experienced showman — the biggest challenge. Her favorite song is “Two Heads,” which is upbeat and has high energy. It’s part of a line-up along with “Crazy lil Thing Called Love,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” and “The Way you Make Me Feel.”
Her role is not necessarily about fame or fortune, but about the central emotion of the show.
“We’re dancing for fun because we love it,” she said.
As for the back flip, Pocock, who has been promoted to assistant director of Spotlight studio in Churchville, is confident it will come together with practice. She has done the move many times, but it feels like a first when using the assistance of new dancers.
“It’s very scary and dangerous. It’s a matter of getting it right and feeling it out,” she said. “This is a huge, 21-number show with all types of songs that have to do with love. For the variety show I’m always looking for an easy subject we could do, while raising money for Lucy.”
Tickets for the show are $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. They will be available for purchase at the door. There will also be a Chinese auction fundraiser with assorted home decor, wine, cookies, pies, gift certificates, a fondue set and other items up for bid. Winners will be drawn that evening.