Meet the Cast: Melissa-Leigh Bustamante, "Tully"

The Giving Tree is a timeless story about a boy and a tree.  In The Gift, the Kelly Mayfield Dance Company's original reimagining of this classic tale, we have many more characters to explore--each and every one of our dancers has created and molded a complex character who is integral of our telling. 

Here  is your chance to meet the cast of The Gift and learn about their process in creating their character, their experience in bringing this story to life on stage, and their favorite childhood memories. We asked the cast some questions to help you get to know the cast a little better--and maybe ask them some more personal questions at the show's talk-backs!

Stay tuned for more characters as we approach opening night. And don't forget to join us for the world premiere of The Gift, April 6-14 at Round House Theatre Silver Spring (tickets here)!

Introducing ... Melissa-Leigh Bustamante as "Tully"

I've been dancing with the company ... since Labor Day 2009.
 
When I'm not in the studio dancing, I am ... contemplating life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
 
My favorite childhood book/story is ... perhaps oddly, considering my current belief system, I was entranced with the "Baby Jesus" story.  It seemed inherently magical and mystical to me, though I couldn't quite make sense of how or why the very same child was born every Christmas, but then, I also thought God was a man on TV called the Green Grocer.  He was on channel 6 at 5pm.
 
My character in The Gift is ... Tully, the narrator.  Tully guides us through story's journey.    
 
This has been a particularly interesting experience for me as an actor, as I am generally given a fully fleshed-out script.  In this case, I was the writing the script and therefore the creating the character on the page.  It turned out to be a wild adventure in choosing just the right word here, and just the right phrase there.  I used Thesaurus.com a lot.  
 
When I was trying to find just the right name for the character I had to create and understand the character's perception of the world and how that world relates to the story she is trying to convey.  What, in fact, was she trying to do?  In my search,  I happened upon a wikipedia entry for  Marcus Tullius Cicero aka "Tully",  who was known as the first politician.  It was said that he was a great orator with an exceptional ability to woo the crowd.  So, I thought "Yes!  I shall woo the crowd with our story..." hence, Tully.  
 
To me, this show means ... not only been an amazing opportunity for me to step on the stage as and actor and dancer, but to co-direct the piece with Kelly, dig my hands into writing a script, and designing the sound score.  
 
More than that though, it was a chance for me to work with, and next to, a truly inspired group of artists.  The spirit of ensemble is alive and well within Kelly Mayfield Dance Company.  What you will see on stage is the result of an artistically rich and fulfilling rehearsal process shared among a group of people who embrace and promote live performance as a vital, dynamic means by which to tell a story, arouse emotion and make a connection. 
 
Read more about Melissa in her company bio.
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Essential The Gift links:

IndieGoGo    |  Rehearsal photos & video   |    Purchase tickets   |   Event on Facebook--invite your friends!