Dance/NYC Symposium 2017

DanceSymp Image 2017

Jessica and Clara returned to Dance Symposium this year on Sunday, March 5th, interviewing panelists and audience members on concepts and issues of interest to the dance community.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the topics you’ll hear covered in this episode, as well as an extended version with information about each segment:

Minute 0:0 0- 21:17 – Designing the Future of Dance Education

21:18 – 32:28 – New Technologies, New Dance, New Audiences Conversation

32:30 – 36:30 – National Dance Advocacy Workshop

36:31 – End – Igniting Public Passions and Participation in the 21st Century

Minute 0:00 – 21:17 – Designing the Future of Dance Education

Clara attended and interviewed panelists and audience members of this lively panel discussion, which sought to advance the goal of cultural planning underway by New York City by “increasing arts education and cultural activities in the schools of the city school district” (Local Law 46).  It takes as its starting point a presentation of new research findings on arts education activities made available to public school students, both in and out of school time, through the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Education, and invites respondents and participants to consider, what is next for dance? What will it take to advance excellence and equity in dance instruction, and what should the dance field recommend for the cultural plan?  How can the schools and dance and culture groups work together to achieve shared goals?

In this section we speak with panelist Zazel-Chavah O’Garra, Axis Dance Company Artistic Director Marc Brew,  Dancewave Artistic Director Diane Jacobowitz, and several dance educators who attended the symposium.

Featured panel speakers in this episode: Zazel-Chavah O’Garra

Minute 21:18 – 32:28 – New Technologies, New Dance, New Audiences Conversation #1

Jessica attended this discussion and interviewed the panelists as well as a couple of audience members.  This discussion started with the question, how have emerging technologies affected the New York City dance community, and what kinds of new platforms are needed to sustain our work?  Curated by Sydney Skybetter, choreographer and professor at Brown University – the panel explored our technological landscape as it pertains to audience engagement, company administration and creative output – as well as the question of what platforms are necessary to make NYC a stable home for artistic dance practice.

Featured panel speakers in this episode:

Ashley Ferro-Murray, Associate curator of Theater/Dance, Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center EMPAC (moderator)

Adam Weinert, Choreographer and Media Artist

Okwui Okpokwasili, Writer, Choreographer, Performer, Performance Maker; Randjelovic, Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist

Minute 32:30 – 36:30 – National Dance Advocacy

Jessica and Clara spoke to Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs at Dance/USA after he led a workshop on National Dance Advocacy.  Now more than ever, the dance field must be ready to advocate on the issues that impact the performing arts field  What are the issues that we should follow? How will our priorities fare under a new administration? In what way can artists, arts administrators, and audiences engage in advocacy and activism to support art making?  His presentation included an overview of the key federal issues that impact dance and how you can become an effective arts advocate.  

Minute 36:31 – End – Igniting Public Passions and Participation in the 21st Century

Jessica attended “Rebel-Clown Choreographer and Marketing Consultant” Jamie Benson’s lively presentation.  After, Jessica and Clara caught up with him to debrief on how he masterfully led eager participants through a presentation of ways to wield the power of immaterial labor in this Web 2.0 World.


THIS IS DEEPER THAN ART: Jason Samuels Smith


In this episode we connected with our first-ever tap dancer – and one of the very best in the field – Jason Samuels Smith. (See also Divine Rhythm Productions!) As a special bonus, we were also joined by filmmaker Simone Maurice whose documentary about Jason, “Lost In The Shuffle,” just premiered at the Dance on Camera Festival (on Facebook here). With Jason, we discussed what it takes to become an extraordinary tap dancer and how tap tends to be perceived and represented. From there, we delved “deeper than art” and learned about the many early contributors to, and even inventors of, the dance form who have been little recognized or marginalized over the years. With Simone and Jason both, we learned about the misinformation surrounding the roots of tap dance and, in the end, put out a call to YOU, our listeners: write the real story! No secondary sources allowed.

Jason Samuels Smith is an established leader for Tap with accolades as Choreographer, Performer and Humanitarian. He received an Emmy, a Dance Magazine Award, and American Choreography Award as well as various grants and residencies supporting the development of new work. His choreography and film credits include Black Nativity; Hit Series Psych; CBS’s Secret Talents of the Stars (MYA); So You Think You Can Dance; Dancing with The Stars; and many more. Stage Credits include Soul Possessed; Broadway’s Bring in Da’Noise, Bring in Da’Funk; and Imagine Tap!  He continues to tour worldwide both as a soloist and with his company and various projects. Jason also supports organizations including Dancers Responding to Aids, Tied to Greatness, Career Transitions for Dancers, Tap Into A Cure, Groove with Me, and Move The World among others. He aims to promote respect for tap dance and continue to create opportunities for upcoming generations as he travels the world as an ambassador for tap.



Marie’s Attitude by Kristi Grunditz

Jessica and Clara returned to the Dance on Camera Festival this year. We were on-site on Saturday, February 4th, interviewing interns, filmmakers, dancers and audience members about a range of films including documentary, narrative and choreography.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the topics you’ll hear covered in this episode, as well as an extended version with information about each segment after the “Read More” tag:

Minute 0-5:40 – Into Sunlight (feature)

5:40-15:54 – Jonah (short)

15:54-39:53 – Marie’s Attitude (feature) and Broken Memories (short)

39:53-54:14 – VR (Virtual Reality) Projects

54:14-End – Shorts Program (various short films) (more…)

Bonus episode: Barak Heymann, Producer of Mr. Gaga



Jessica caught Tomer and Barak Heymann (the Producer and Film Director duo of Heymann Brothers Films) after a Q&A at Film Society of Lincoln Center while promoting the release of Mr. Gaga, their acclaimed documentary film about Ohad Naharin.  Naharin is is the long-standing Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company and subject of the film which follows his life from childhood until the present.  Jessica interviewed Barak and learned more about the filmmaking process, where the idea for the film came about, how Tomer selected archival footage, and how Ohad reacted to seeing the film for the first time.

Do not miss this film! It is screening at Film Forum and Lincoln Center through February 16th.   Learn more about Mr. Gaga at  And learn more about Tomer and Barak’s films at



We had the privilege of speaking with our first – and THE first – dance photographer, the charismatic Jordan Matter. Jordan shared fascinating and hilarious stories about his illicit international photo shoots for Dancers After Dark, his latest book featuring dancers in the nude, shot at night. We learned about the origins of Jordan’s photography career, how he started focusing on dance, and how the idea for Dancers After Dark evolved. We also discussed Jordan’s process and the unique aspects of working with children and teens for his upcoming Tiny Dancers project. Don’t miss the fun behind-the-scenes video of the Dancers After Dark shoots, and be sure to follow Jordan on instagram (@jordanmatter). You can also check out Jordan’s bestselling Dancers Among Us and learn more at

Enjoy this slideshow of a few of the images we spoke about during the podcast!

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Jordan Matter is a photographer in New York City and the photographer/author of Dancers After Dark, and the new york times bestselling book Dancers Among Us, A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday. Matter specializes in headshots and comp cards for a large client list of models and actors that includes Alan CummingMichael Gaston, and other notables, but he also shoots fashion, and more. “If you’re breathing,” Matter says in his Twitter profile, “I want to photograph you.”



Eugenia Repelskii as Henriette in Raymonda’s Wedding

Jessica and Clara had a lively chat with Joshua Thake, ballet dancer of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (better known on stage as Eugenia Repelskii and Jacques d’Aniels).  Josh revealed what it is like to prepare for roles and travel all over the world with the Trocks.  We discussed why their brand of humor works so well and how the Trocks use certain themes and elements of humor to bring ballets to life.  Naturally, we slipped into a dialog about what qualities make a great dancer connect with their audience.

Visit to find where the company is performing in a city near you.

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Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was founded in 1974 by a group of ballet enthusiasts for the purpose of presenting a playful, entertaining view of traditional, classical ballet in parody form and en travesti. Les Ballets Trockadero first performed in the late-late shows in Off-Off Broadway lofts. Today, the TROCKS, as they are affectionately known, is a Company of professional male dancers performing the full range of the ballet and modern dance repertoire, including classical and original works in faithful renditions of the manners and conceits of those dance styles.

Joshua Thake has been dancing with the Trocks since November of 2011. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, he received his dance training at the Boston Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, and Brae Crest School of Classical Ballet. Two
of his recurring characters for the Trocks can be described as follows:


The secrets of Mme Repelskii’s beginnings lie shrouded behind the Kremlin wall. In fact, no fewer than six lie in the wall (in jars of assorted sizes). Dancing lightly over pogroms and other sordid re-organizational measures, Eugenia has emerged as a ballerina nonpareil whose pungency is indisputable. Among her colleagues in the West, she is known as the Odessa Chihuahua.


Jacques d’Aniels was originally trained as an astronaut before entering the world of ballet. Strong but flexible, good natured but dedicated, sensible but not give to unbelievable flights of fantastic behavior, Mr. d’Aniels is an expert on recovering from ballet injuries (including the dread “Pavlova’s clavicle”).



In a rare solo interview, Clara of Pod de Deux talked to Clara Cantor, thirteen year-old student at the School of American Ballet (SAB) and PDD’s youngest interviewee yet! (The interview took place at the New York apartment where Clara lives with her family, so you’ll hear some city background noise.) At a crossroads in her life, Clara spoke candidly of the decision she has to make between academics and pursuing ballet full-time. She also discussed how she  currently balances school and dance, as well as her experience performing with the New York City Ballet as an SAB student. (more…)