SOUTHINGTON — Tia Jones was in first grade when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. She came home from school and saw her mother in tears but was confused about what was happening. Now a 16-year-old high school senior, Jones will honor victims of the tragedy by dancing in a memorial service next week at Lincoln Center in New York City.
“I’m glad that my dance allows me to do things like this,” said Jones, who has been dancing for 14 years. “I go to competitions and have recitals, but this is more and something meaningful thing to me.”
The dance, titled “The Table of Silence Project 9/11,” will begin at 8:15 a.m. and conclude at 8:46 a.m. on Wednesday Sept. 11, marking the time when the American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower, said Audrey Ross, communications representative at Buglisi Dance Theatre in New York City.
This marks the third year Buglisi Dance Theatre will perform the commemorative dance. Ross said there will be about 125 dancers, mostly from New York, but also some, such as Jones, from neighboring states.
To prepare for the dance, Jones has been attending rehearsals in New York City throughout August. She first found out about the opportunity through one of her friends at Evjen Dance Academy in Farmington, where Jones dances.
“I sent in my resume along with a picture and had an audition,” Jones said. “I found out the next day that I was picked.”
Auditions were held in the middle of August and Jones has been to three rehearsals so far, with her fourth on Saturday at Lincoln Center.
Jones described the performance as a modern dance, which is different from what she’s used to doing.
“I’m used to jazz and lyrical ballet,” she said.
Dancers wearing white with flowing shawls to resemble peace and compassion will circle the Revson Fountain at Lincoln Center. The dance was choreographed by artistic director at Buglisi Dance Theater Jacqulyn Buglisi and Italian visual artist Rossella Vasta, Ross said.
“There are a lot of hand gestures and the dance is there to give respect to the people,” Jones said.
For the past seven years, Jones has been dancing at the Evjen Academy of Performing Arts under the instruction of the owner Diana Evjen, who is glad Jones is able to take part in such an important event.
“I don’t think she expected to be chosen,” Evjen said.
When Jones found out, she was worried that she wouldn’t have enough time to attend rehearsals while doing school work, being on the swim team and attending her dance lessons, which take up about 10 hours throughout the week. However, after consulting with her mother and dance instructor, she knew she couldn’t turn down the opportunity, she said. She balances everything as best as she can.
“She’s a talented dancer,” Evjen said, “and I’m glad there’s an experience like this she is able to pursue.”
After graduation, Jones is looking to pursue a dance major in college.
“I’m not nervous,” she said. “It’s just really powerful and it’s crazy to be part of something so big.”