On Friday, December 7, Alana Bonilla ‘19 performed at the local music venue, The Loading Dock, in front of a full house. With the support of her family and White Mountain community, Alana took the stage and blew the audience away.
Alana found her love for performance during her Sophomore year at White Mountain. Read more about her experience preparing for her first real “gig” and how White Mountain has impacted her musical aspirations beyond high school.
Tell me about the process of being invited to The Loading Dock to perform. How did it all start?
A little over a month ago, while I was sitting in the McGoldrick Library after lunch when Kerry (Spouse of Math Faculty Carl Stagg) approached me and explained that the owner of The Loading Dock, Jason Torres, saw my recent YouTube videos. She said that he would love if I would open for a woman they have performing in December at the venue. She mentioned the date and that I would have a 30 minute set. I called my mom right away because I was so excited to have my first gig!
How did you prepare for your performance?
While I was preparing for my gig, I was also preparing for my Berklee College of Music audition. I decided I didn’t want to spend time learning anything new, and instead, practice the songs I already knew how to play. To make a setlist, I decided to sing ten songs, four of which were covers and the rest original. Then, being the nerd I am, I made two columns. The first one was original songs I would be interested in performing and then a column of covers I’ve learned over the years. The next step was getting a good ratio of slow songs and upbeat songs. So, I divided and I mixed them so the show would be varied and exciting.
How has your time at White Mountain impacted your ability to perform in front of an audience?
I had never actually performed until I came to White Mountain. My first performance was at our School’s open mic night my Sophomore year. I remember I was so nervous that I couldn’t keep my leg from shaking. Once I sang my first song, the crowd of students went wild and were wooing and clapping, some even yelled “encore!” That was the moment that I knew that I wanted to pursue music and performing. There is just so much support at this School, and in this community, I know that I can do anything and someone will have my back. I almost cried when I found out a whole bus full of students and other faculty came to support me at The Loading Dock. And then when I came back the next Monday after my performance and audition, people kept coming up to me to ask how the audition went and complimented my performance, and it just made me feel so loved and supported.
What were your biggest takeaways from the experience?
As much as I love performing, it has also always been one of my biggest fears. While preparing for the Berklee audition, I tried to stay away from difficult songs because I knew my nerves would knock my singing ability down a few pegs. But, for some reason at this performance I wasn’t nervous. I just looked out into the audience and I was surrounded by friends and family and I felt completely comfortable just being myself on stage. All the feedback I got from everyone after made me realize that all I have to do is be myself when I perform and I’ll be fine. That was definitely a huge confidence booster.
Many of your songs were originals, what do you enjoy most about songwriting?
The thing I enjoy most about songwriting, is being able to connect with other people. Through middle school and some of high school I had trouble finding people I clicked with. Ever since middle school, I’ve struggled with social anxiety and it has caused me to come off shy and it can be hard to talk or connect with people. But, when I started writing songs it became my way to reach out to other people. I would write a song and then sing it for someone, and for a second when I sang the song, I would make whoever was listening feel the same emotions that I was feeling and I would be able to experience that social click that most people get from having good conversations.
To view more photos from Alana’s performance at The Loading Dock, click here.