Author: clarapy

Clara is a freelance film Producer and Grant Writer in New York City. She spends her "free time" surfing Facebook, talking to her mom and plotting to take over the world - one half-finished essay at a time. @clara_peterson

WE WANT THEM TO BE THE BEST HUMANS THEY CAN BE: Jenna Lavin

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Returning to our recording studio, we had a great chat with Jenna Lavin, the newly appointed Principal of the Pre-Professional Division at Ballet Academy East (BAE). Jenna gave us a clear sense of how the BAE teaching strategy and philosophy uniquely prepares students to excel in a range of styles and techniques while cultivating a supportive, non-competitive atmosphere. We were particularly impressed to hear that BAE prioritizes not just technical prowess but also instilling students with a value system centered on human kindness and community. Jenna also spoke about her connection with the students as she nurtures their growth over the years. The advanced students perform several times a year, including an end-of-year program featuring a student-choreographed ballet in collaboration with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Make sure you’re following Pod de Deux for updates on performance dates!

Jenna Lavin danced professionally with the Chicago City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, and as a soloist with the Miami City Ballet under the direction of Edward Villella where she danced principal roles. She began her ballet training with Mme. Gabriela Darvash and Jody Fugate, and later graduated from the School of American Ballet where she studied with such teachers as Alexandria Danilova, Antonia Tumkovsky, and Stanley Williams. Jenna has worked with numerous choreographers, creating principal roles in ballets by Alonzo King, Lisa de Ribere, and Stanton Welch, to name a few.

The BAE Pre-Professional Division is celebrated for producing technically strong and artistically expressive dancers who are sought after for their professionalism and ability to adapt to a broad range of styles demanded of today’s dance professionals. Alumni include Ariel Rose and Petra Love (Miami City Ballet), Siobhan Howley (Pennsylvania Ballet), Hannah Marshall (American Ballet Theatre), and Erica Pereira (New York City Ballet), to name a few. The comprehensive ballet training is combined with professional-caliber performance opportunities.

THERE IS SUCH POWER IN BEING YOURSELF: Harper Watters

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After a brief summer hiatus, we got back into the studio and conducted a Skype interview with Houston Ballet’s Harper Watters. Harper has made a name for himself on social media with comedic videos and brand partnerships, as well as a web series of his own creation. We spoke to him about the importance (personal and professional!) of being completely oneself, what it means to represent ballet, and how dancers can seek opportunities beyond the company structure through social media and proactive exploration of their individual interests. The message that emerged was an empowering one of escaping rigid stereotypes through individuality. We will be sure to post on social media when Harper’s upcoming documentary, Danseur, is available for viewing!

Harper Watters is a Soloist with the Houston Ballet, one of the top 5 largest professional ballet companies in the US. In 2011 he won the prestigious Prix De Lausanne and in 2015 he won the Princess Grace Award for Dance Achievement. He’s worked with leading choreographers such as George Balanchine, Wayne McGregor, William Forsythe and Tony award winner Christopher Wheeldon. He’s accumulated over 143 thousand followers on Instagram and created the web series ’The Pre Show’ which highlights the behind the scenes stage life of professional dancers on his YouTube channel. His videos have been featured on numerous media outlets, and his social media presence has allowed him to work with photographers such as Mike Ruiz, Gerardo Vizmanos, and Ryan Pfluger for the New Yorker. He’s been featured in the pages of fashion magazine, ‘Risk Magazine,’ ‘Dance Magazine,’ and ‘Pointe Magazine,’ and he has even graced the cover of DanceSpirit’s February 2018 issue. You may also have seen him in his viral videos in heels on a treadmill as well. Harper will be featured in the forthcoming documentary, Danseur, which explores why there are so few males in dance and sheds light on the difficult subjects of bullying and homophobia while illustrating the vitality of ballet.

IT’S NOT GLAMOROUS: Rina Saltzman

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In this episode, Clara sits down with Rina Saltzman, Company Manager on Broadway and former Company Manager for American Ballet Theater. We learn about what a Company Manager does, how the inner workings and funding structures of the ballet world contrast with Broadway, and how we might see more in-depth mixing of the two going forward. It was great to hear that business is booming on Broadway! Rina’s current show, Pretty Woman, will have its New York preview on July 20th and open officially on August 16th!!

Rina L. Saltzman has been a Company Manager on tour and on Broadway since 1986.  After 6 seasons with the American Ballet Theatre, she went on to manage tours of CATS, SUNSET BOULEVARD, RAGTIME, FOSSE, MAMMA MIA! , BILLY ELLIOT and BEAUTIFUL THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL, visiting over 150 cities in the US and Canada. She was honored by the Broadway League in 2017 when she was given the George MacPherson Road Award.  On Broadway, she has managed MAMMA MIA!, CHICAGO and WAR PAINT.

In 2015, she had the honor of managing AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, the first Broadway show to do a pre-Broadway try-out in Paris, France.

Currently the Associate General Manager of the  upcoming Broadway musical, PRETTY WOMAN, Rina is a member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM) and sits on its Board of Governors.  

I LOOK FOR A CLEAR ANCHOR IN THE WORK: Christopher LaPlante

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In this episode, Clara connects with fellow Minnesotan dancer Christopher LaPlante. We learn about Chris’ experience independently navigating the dance world, guided by his innate passion for dance. He talks about growing up in competition school, discovering break dance in his early 20s, and the magical way in which he achieved his dream of dancing with TU Dance (with former PDD guest Uri Sands!). Chris also expresses his philosophies of seeking intention in choreographic works, and bringing dance to public spaces where it can be seen by people who may not otherwise engage with the art form. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did. (more…)

I MAKE AN EFFORT TO GUIDE AN EXPERIENCE: Andrea Miller

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In this interview with Andrea Miller, recorded at the Brooklyn home of GALLIM Dance, we dig deep into Andrea’s unique choreographic process and discuss her current residency at the Met Breuer. Andrea describes the way in which she and her dancers develop a distinct movement language for each new piece, and she shares a fascinating example of a piece for which they drew inspiration from prehistoric, non-human movement. We also touch on the historical-cultural significance of Andrea’s 2017-18 residency at the Met as a sign of dance being recognized as an art form in its own right. Finally, Andrea speaks to the experience and personal importance of building a family without interrupting her dance career. Andrea will premiere a new durational work at the Met Breuer this month, May 22–27, 2018. If you’re in New York, don’t miss it! (more…)

DANCE IS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Caitlin Trainor

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In this episode we talk to Caitlin Trainor, the Founder and Creator of Dancio. Dancio is a platform that provides online dance classes with some of the best teachers in the world. Starting from the need for a simple warm-up tool, Caitlin created a platform with the potential to bring top-notch training to dancers in geographies with limited access, allow new professional dancers to keep up with class without breaking their bank, and even bring the healing power of dance to people around the world who, without formal training, may be shy about walking into a class. After this conversation, we can truly see, as Caitlin does, Dancio’s potential to affect us as individuals and as a society.

Dancio was recently written up in Pointe magazine. Still in its early stages, there are 4 ballet classes available, with teachers Julie Kent, Carlos Lopez, Craig Hall and Lauren King. You can sign up here for a free barre with Julie Kent!!

Named as one of the “25 to Watch” in 2016 by Dance Magazine, Caitlin herself is a choreographer, performer and the artistic director of Trainor Dance. She is also a member of the faculty at Barnard College/Columbia University.

DANCE IS A MIX OF WHO YOU ARE: Barkha Patel

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In this episode we connected with our first dance-maker specializing in Indian Kathak dance! Barkha Patel gave us a fascinating, in-depth look at the intricacies and history of Kathak technique while describing her own experience learning and presenting Kathak. Along the way, we talked about how dance can reflect, imbibe and transform a dancer’s personality, and Barkha told us about her first full-length production with Barkha Dance Company, set to premiere in 2019. We hope you’ll be as excited to follow Barkha’s work as we are after this interview! See a video of Barkha in action here and be sure to subscribe to her channel. You can also follow Barkha on Instagram. (more…)