Gabby Record Makes a Mark on Williston Arts
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When Gabby Record ’17 takes the stage you know it is about to get real. A talented dancer, choreographer, singer, actor, and director, Record is a force to be reckoned with in Williston’s performing arts program. Whether choreographing an unconventional tap piece or singing a cappella, she confesses her true joy is the effect her performance has on the audience.
“What I like most about performing arts is that it makes people feel something,” said Record. “There’s something really incredible about the relationship between a performer and the audience that I think is very unique to music, dance, and theater.”
A six-year senior, Record certainly has left her mark on Williston performing arts. This year, Record was a co-captain of the dance ensemble and a choreographer in the fall dance concert, Contagion. As well as being a leader of the dance ensemble, she also performed in In the Heights and will be the assistant director for the spring play, Peter and the Starcatcher. She performs in the female chorus group, the Widdigers, and directs and arranges music for the Wild Chords, an a cappella group on campus. She recently won the Williston Working Artist Award for her involvement with the Wild Chords.
“I love making people happy with my performing,” said Record. “Especially with music. Good music can make essentially anyone happy, and watching people feel that way when I create music makes me feel happy in return.”
Record, from Southampton, Massachusetts, came to Williston in seventh grade, and has been dancing since she was three years old. She danced in her first Williston dance concert in eighth grade and estimates that during concert season she dances for two hours a day, five days a week. She also teaches at Ascendance Inner World Arts, a dance studio and performing arts school in Northampton.
“Gabby Record is probably one of the most dynamic people and powerhouse dancers I know,” said Ms. Debra Vega, the artistic director and teacher of the Williston Dance Ensemble. “When she approaches material with passion, she can’t help but give 200% and it shows. I believe she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to.”
Record has knowledge in jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, musical theater, modern, and West African styles, although her favorite is tap, but not the typical flap heel heel routine. She prefers a more “angsty” style, like in her recent piece, put to the song “Holiday” by Green Day.
“Tap is the only style of dance that really allows you to be one with the music. You’re essentially making music with your feet in a way,” said Record. “I also love tap because the louder you are, the better.”
Tap is difficult to master. It requires a lot of natural rhythm and the ability to convey that rhythm through the feet, according to Ms. Vega. Record’s passion for tap has influenced younger dancers to pursue this style.
“Gabby taught me how to tap dance,” said freshman Lila Schaefer, who joined the Dance Ensemble in seventh grade. “She introduced me to tap in seventh grade and thanks to her, it has become one of the things I’m most passionate about.”
Schaefer said Record is a skilled choreographer. “Gabby has an endless supply of unique and phenomenal choreography.”
Record first seriously choreographed a tap solo in her second dance concert, Infrared. Record said that she likes choreographing a piece more than dancing to it.
“I do love to perform and be on the stage, but there’s something much more rewarding about having something you’ve created be enjoyed by lots of people,” she said. “I’ve always liked the idea of being the mastermind behind a dance. I think that choreographing also allows more creativity to flow.”
Her inspiration comes from either an idea from her life or a song she hears. Record thinks that the hardest part is linking the movement together.
“When Gabby Record choreographs a dance piece, you can almost guarantee she is going to break boundaries and push limits,” said Ms. Vega. “It comes easy for some, but is very challenging for others. For Gabby, I think she walks around with amazing ideas in her head all the time, and uses dance as an avenue to convey them.”
Record is most proud of her work when she creates it. “I think what I’m most proud of in my artistic career is my original works both in dance, music, and soon to be the play,” she said. “Watching people perform something that I have created and have poured my entire being into just makes me feel really good.”
Record said her performance has evolved thanks to her teachers and mentors, specifically Joshua Harper, Debra Vega, Laurel Boyd, and Emily Ditkovski, all current or former Williston teachers. “They’ve been so influential on both my Williston career and my life and I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for me,” said Record. “I don’t think I would be where I am as an artist and as a performer without them.”
“My favorite part of Williston arts is that I have so much freedom to just create,” she added. She believes the art program has few boundaries. “At most schools, people never get the chance to choreograph, or to arrange for the choir, or tap dance on a giant canvas with paint on the bottom of your shoes.”
Gabby plans to continue her artistic career in college, focusing on music. She is thinking of majoring in music production or technology, and possibly minoring in dance or math. “Williston will certainly not be the last place you all see me in the performing arts world,” said Record.
Record’s distinct style and artistic creativity will be missed and remembered. “Gabby’s contributions to both the dance department and the theatre department at Williston have been immense,” said Ms. Vega. “She has been student leader and role model for many years now. I cannot think of another dancer who continually comes up with unique material like we have never seen on the Williston stage. Her presence after she graduates will surely be missed by both me and the entire Dance Ensemble.”