In our previous episode of the LLAB, we spoke with three Black dancers about their experiences and challenges navigating concert dance. This week, we talked to dancers on the other end of the field, in commercial dance. Our guests Tash Crudup and Keenan Cooks share stories and lessons about the challenges, triumphs and what it takes to make it as a Black commercial dancer.
Tash has danced with Rihanna, Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, and Lorde; has choreographed for Meg thee Stallion, Goldlink, and Tyler the creator; and is the Founder/CEO of Lil Vegan Shawty. Keenan has danced for Big Sean, Nicki Minaj, Ne-Yo, Kendrick Lamar, Halsey, and Dua Lipa; has choreographed for Cardi B, Meek Mill, and Yo Gotti; and teaches regularly at Broadway Dance Center.
In the 4th episode of PDD’s coverage of the Dance Now festival’s 25th anniversary season, new host Paul Hamilton talks with the talented tap dancer Orlando Hernandez, who has a new digital commission premiering online on Thursday, November 12th as part of the Dance Now November Chapter. (Tickets and additional information are available here!) In this interview, Orlando talks about his work, his Dance Now commission, opportunities available to artists during and prior to the pandemic, and the importance of Dance Now and their mission for artists. Check out Dance Now’s full season virtual offerings at https://dancenow.online/.
Orlando Hernandez is a tap dancer based in Rhode Island. He has presented work at On the Boards, SPACE Gallery, the Granoff Center at Brown University, Movement Research at the Judson Church, DANCE NOW at Joe’s Pub (2019 Festival and Festival Encore), and La Casa de Cultura Ruth Hernández Torres (Río Piedras, Puerto Rico). He was the 2019 recipient of the Fellowship in Choreography from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and a 2019 recipient of the Rebecca Blunk Fund Award from the New England Foundation for the Arts. You can find him at www.orlyhernandez.com or on IG @pineappleju_icefrog
In our previous series on the LLAB, we spoke with Black dancers about their experience as dance students in undergraduate and graduate programs and the challenges they faced being minorities in those spaces. This week, we started a new two-episode topic, re-centering the conversation on what it’s like to be a professional dancer while Black. We meet concert dancers Rena Butler and Maleek Washington, and talk about their unique experiences dancing with both predominantly Black and non-Black companies, as well their experience of being overqualified.
Rena is a dancer, director, and choreographer dancing with Gibney Dance Company. Maleek is a dancer, choreographer, and educator dancing with Camille A. Brown and dancers.
This is the 3rd episode in our new fall series, The LLAB with Antuan Byers. LLAB stands for listening, learning, and building. The overall goal of this series is to create a space to share marginalized Black voices, to learn from their experiences, and dream for ways in which we can move forward.
In the 3rd episode of PDD’s coverage of the Dance Now festival’s 25th anniversary season, new hosts Paul Hamilton and Sabrina Karlin interview Jamal Jackson and Nicole Wolcott! Digital commissions from both artists premiere as part of Chapter 2 on Thursday, October 8th. Tickets and additional information are available here. Check out the full season’s offerings at https://dancenow.online/. In today’s interview, Jamal and Nicole discuss pandemic parenting, giving space to marginalized voices, and the challenges of empowering new audiences to interact with dance. The artists also look back on the importance of DANCE NOW in developing their respective choreographic voices.
Jamal Jackson, born in Brooklyn, graduated from Brown University and performed as a principal dancer with Ballet International Africans for two seasons. In 2004, he founded the Jamal Jackson Dance Company with the goal of fusing traditional African styles with modern and hip hop techniques. The company maintains a strong presence in the dance community through outreach and performances in festivals and venues such as Jacob’s Pillow, Summerstage and DANCE NOW. His work focuses on themes of identity and community.
Nicole Wolcott is a Brooklyn-based performer and choreographer who co-founded KEIGWIN + COMPANY with Larry Kiewin in 2003. Both in collaboration and independently, she has since created and performed across the lines of concert dance, film and theater both on and off Broadway. She continues to experiment with space and medium while choreographing and teaching at many notable universities. Her work with DANCE NOW spans over 13 years.
Photo credit for Sydnie: Jamie McClean @jmxclean Photo credit for Michelle : Jonah Pester
In our previous episode of the LLAB, we spoke with three Black dancers about their experiences and challenges with navigating undergraduate dance programs. This week, we wanted to take it a step further. We expanded our dialogue to the often overlooked subject of being a Black dancer in a graduate program. Our guests, Michelle Gibson, Iyun Harrison, and Sydnie Mosley, share stories, lessons, and laughs on what it was like pursuing their Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA); they also provide advice for others interested in pursuing an MFA.
Michelle Gibson, MFA, is a cultural ambassador, choreographer, educator, and performing artist, as well as a faculty member at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Iyun Harrison, MFA, is choreographer, educator and the founder and creative director of Ballet Ashani. Contribute to the GoFundMe for Iyun’s Doctoral Program Fundraiser here! gf.me/u/yqzvwn
Sydnie Mosley, MFA, is a performer, choreographer, artist-activist, and educator, and artistic director of Sydnie L. Mosley Dances (SLMDances).
This is the 2nd episode in our new fall series, The LLAB with Antuan Byers. LLAB stands for listening, learning, and building. The overall goal of this series is to create a space to share marginalized Black voices, to learn from their experiences, and dream for ways in which we can move forward.
In the 2nd installment of PDD’s fall/spring series covering the Dance Now 25th anniversary season, new hosts Paul Hamilton and Sabrina Karlin interview the iconic Gus Solomons jr! Gus will be honored in Dance Now’s Chapter 1 virtual celebration on Thursday, October 1st at 7:00pm EDT. You can find more information and purchase a $20 ticket here, or check out the full season and ticketing options at https://dancenow.online/! In this interview, Gus gives us a fascinating overview of his career, including how he made his way from an architecture degree at MIT to Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and many more luminary choreographers. Along the way, he emphasizes the resilience and ingenuity of dancers and the dance community at large – an important message and reminder for all of us in these challenging times.
Gus Solomons jr. is a vital and essential part of American dance history. As a dancer, he drew and captured the attention of Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Pearl Lang, and Donald Mckayle, to name just a few. He created Gus Solomons Company/Dance in 1972, and the dance collective Paradigm in 1996. As a choreographer, he has created more than 170 works that have been performed on stages around the world, in art galleries and museums, in warehouses, and on film. As a teacher, he has motivated and mentored dance students for over decades. As a writer, he is creating literature that will hold true as the genre evolves. Yet, he continues to challenge himself, shifting seamlessly between these roles and creating new forms and new understandings of the art form that has given him so much.
In the first episode of this fall PDD series, The LLAB, new Host Antuan Byers talks to a recent grad, Morgan Burns, and college seniors, Runako Campbell and Ricardo Hartley, about their experiences navigating the world of dance education as Black students at predominantly white institutions. Although all three of these guests attended different colleges and conservatories, we quickly learned how their experiences as minorities in their programs have been very similar. We discussed our concerns with the lack of representation in our field, the importance and difficulty of finding mentors that look like you, and the challenges of accessing Black dance history. We also shared stories and experiences about how our dance spaces are eurocentric – not leaving room for other aesthetics, techniques, and cultures. Morgan talked to us about what sparked the idea for her new organization, the Collegiate Association for Artists of Color (C.A.A.C.); Runako caught us up on what she will be exploring in her senior thesis that focuses on Black girls, women, and femme-identifying dancers; and Ricardo gave us the inside scoop on his new journal created specifically for queer artists of color.
Morgan Burns is a recent graduate of New York University, and is the founder of Collegiate Association for Artists of Color (C.A.A.C.).
Runako Campbell is a current senior at Princeton University, who has been an active member within their dance department, acting as an Artistic Director of their dance company, DiSiac, as well as dancing with the Princeton University Ballet.
Ricardo Hartley is a current senior at the Juilliard School, and founder of the dance workshop, The Audition.
This is the first episode in our new fall, series, The LLAB with Antuan Byers. LLAB stands for listening, learning, and building. The overall goal of this series is to create a space to share marginalized Black voices, to learn from their experiences, and dream for ways in which we can move forward.
Personal & Business Coach Devon Bandison joins new PDD Host Antuan Byers, as well as Jessica and Clara, to help the PDD team prepare to integrate racial justice conversations into our work. This work will begin with Antuan’s upcoming series called The LLAB (Listening, Learning and Building), which will create a space to share marginalized Black voices, to learn from their experiences, and dream for ways in which we can move forward. In preparation for this and more, Devon helps us understand how to approach racial conversations and our own contributions as individual members of society.
Devon Bandison is one of the most sought-after personal and business coaches in the world. He works with Fortune 100 Companies and people from all walks of life, including professional athletes, CEO’s, salespeople, small business owners, filmmakers, producers, parents, and more.
Devon was born and raised in New York City, where his love of sports and hard work resulted in him receiving a basketball scholarship to Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. After graduating, he spent years working on the front lines in NYC with an organization responsible for developing behavioral health programs for youth, families and first-time fathers in some of the toughest neighborhoods throughout the city. As Director of this organization, he was responsible for the clinical and leadership development of social workers, psychiatrists and managers. He now serves as the Director of Children’s Services for the Community Mental Health Services division, in addition to running his coaching company and keeping up with numerous coaching and speaking engagements.
Robin Staff, Founding Executive Artistic Director of Dance Now, sat down with Clara and new PDD host Paul Hamilton to discuss Dance Now’s 25th anniversary season that kicks off on September 10th! Dance Now, which traditionally opens the NYC performance season with a week of shows at Joe’s Pub, is charting new territory by hosting a completely virtual season with performance and celebration chapters spanning September 2020 to May 2021. Pod de Deux will be covering the whole season! We chatted with Robin about the process of going virtual, presenting artists with the challenge of creating work remotely within the dimensions of the Joe’s Pub stage (fitting for quarantine!), and her own personal history in the dance world. Purchase tickets to individual events or a season pass at https://dancenow.online/!
Don’t miss these videos of creative approaches to dance in pandemic times that Robin mentioned enjoying!
The daughter of a painter, Robin went to Goucher College to study visual and creative arts and graduated as the first dance major, charting the development of one of today’s most vital college dance programs. She continued her career as a dancer at an age that was then considered ‘too old’, creating a small repertory company to sustain both a love of neo‐classical ballet and an eagerness to explore new and contemporary movement styles. Robin was inspired by unusual urban spaces and created her first gallery performance at the Wooster Street Gallery in Soho in 1993. The intimacy and enormous enthusiasm between the artists and audience members at this first performance predicted DANCE NOW’s artistic direction.
Over the past two decades, DANCE NOW has worked to make dance accessible and welcoming, bending the rules to offer artists a new way to think about creating and audiences new ways to experience dance. As DANCE NOW moves into its third decade, Robin’s vision continues to encompass the untraditional, the unconventional and the unknown. As an administrator, she is directed by her concern for the survival of dance makers, particularly young artists and BIPOC dance artists. She remains steadfast in her commitment to providing opportunities that present new choices, stimulate creativity, advance careers, and encourage exploration of the untried, while defying the archetypical and carving a path to new means of expression.
The Pod De Deux Podcast team is back with a not-to-be-missed season finale episode in the “Women Of Broadway” summer series. This week, Emmy nominee Sonya Tayeh joins Michael, Ellyn, and Kevin to discuss what it was like to choreograph, not one, but two musicals slated for Broadway this past season. Tayeh not only choreographed Moulin Rouge!, which opened late in the summer of 2019, but was also set to choreograph the New York Theatre Workshop’s production of Sing Street when the musical made its transfer to Broadway this spring. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, Sing Street had to halt production before it had a chance to be seen by Broadway audiences.
In this episode, Tayeh talks about how her choreographic vision for both shows was born from the heart and soul of the stories themselves and how that process created a rigorous work for the dancers of Moulin Rouge!. She also lets us in on her early days dancing in Detroit’s underground rave scene, her incredible self-made trajectory into a choreography career, and the way her world changed when she booked a choreographic job on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. We are even treated to an emotionally vulnerable look behind the scenes into the days leading up to Fox’s early 2019 production of Rent Live!
Sonya Tayeh is a New York City based choreographer and director. Her work has been characterized as a blend of powerful versatility and theatrical range. Tayeh made her Broadway choreographic debut last summer when Moulin Rouge! opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Tayeh has also choreographed pieces for the Fall For Dance Festival at City Center, The Lucky Ones at Ars Nova, Kung Fu at the Signature, and many other projects for companies and venues like The Music Center in LA, New York Live Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Martha Graham Dance Company, and The Joyce Theatre. She has directed and choreographed for world renowned music artists including Miley Cyrus, Florence and the Machine, and Kyle Minogue. Tayeh choreographed Fox’s Rent Live! in 2019 and has gleaned many accolades for her versatile work, including two Emmy nominations for her work on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, an Obie Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, two Lucille Lortel Awards for “Outstanding Choreography”, a Drama Desk nomination and a 2020 Drama Desk Award win for Moulin Rouge!
In this series, veteran Pod De Deux host Michael Mahany (Rock Of Ages, Wicked) was joined by fellow performers Ellyn Marie Marsh (The Rose Tattoo, Kinky Boots) and Kevin Michael Raponey (Rock Of Ages, Radio City). The trio sought to speak with all nine of the female choreographers who were slated to bring musicals to Broadway in this unprecedented season. Read more about the unprecedented year for female choreographers in Michael Mahany’s blog post, “Broadway’s Remarkable Year For Women On Broadway.”
The Pod De Deux Podcast team is back with another episode in the “Women Of Broadway” summer series, this week featuring Lizzi Gee, the choreographer behind this past season’s production of A Christmas Carol.
In this episode, the remarkable Lizzi Gee discusses what it meant to her to travel across the pond to bring A Christmas Carol to Broadway. She also gives us a peek into how she balances running her Gee-Force School Of Dance, working closely with the incredible Nkosi’s Haven in Johannesburg South Africa, serving as an associate of the Old Vic, and being a mother to two boys.
On top of creating the choreography for the 2019-2020 Broadway production of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Lizzi Gee is also a Movement Director, dance practitioner, and teacher whose work spans across all aspects of theatre, opera, film and television.
Gee was nominated for a 2019 “What’s On Stage Award” for her work choreographing ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ in London’s Regents Park Open Air Theatre. Her other credits include The National Theatre, the Old Vic, the Young Vic, English National Opera, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Chichester Festival Theatre, Sheffield Crucible, Nottingham Playhouse, and many West End and touring theaters.
Gee was recently made an Associate at the Old Vic Theatre. In addition, she owns her own dance school just outside of London called the Gee-Force School Of Dance where she trains children and adults from the age of 3 on up. She is often a guest lecturer and dance coach for many theatre schools across the UK, and when she manages to find the time, she also volunteers at Nkosi’s Haven in Johannesburg South Africa, a home for children and mothers affected by HIV.
The Pod De Deux Podcast team is back with another episode in the “Women Of Broadway” summer series, this week featuring Six The Musical choreographer, Carrie-Anne Ingrouille. In the episode, Carrie-Anne discusses the growth, inspiration, and magic behind the female-driven musical Six. She also offers listeners a glimpse into the evening of March 12th: the day that not only marked the beginning of the theatre world’s industry-wide shut-down, but also the evening that was set to be the opening night celebration of Six on Broadway
Originally from Guernsey — an island in the English Channel — Carrie-Anne Ingrouille was nominated for an Olivier Award for her choreography for Six The Musical. She is also the choreographer of the Broadway transfer production of Six that’s made its way to the US, via stops at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, ART in Cambridge, MA, and the Ordway Center in St. Paul, MN.
Also serving as the resident choreographer of Hamilton in London’s West End, Carrie-Anne began her early dance career at the Avril Earl Dance and Theatre Arts Centre. At 19, she moved to London to continue her training at The Centre Performing Arts College. Since 2005, she has been a core member of ZooNation Dance Company, where she wears many hats — including Associate Director, Resident Director, Choreographer and Teacher. Her performance credits with ZooNation include – Into the Hoods, Some Like it Hip Hop, ZooNation 10th Anniversary, ZooNation: Unplugged, The Show of Life, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and the handover ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics, 2008.
Carrie-Anne’s other performing and choreography credit’s include Blaze, The Street Dance Sensation, Groove on Down the Road, Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, The Suicide ( at The National), “I Can’t Sing” The X Factor Musical (at The London Palladium), The 2012 International Olympic Committee Heads of State Performance, and Breakin’ Convention’s “Back to the Lab” at Sadler’s Wells.
In this new series, veteran Pod De Deux host Michael Mahany (Rock Of Ages, Wicked) is joined by fellow performers Ellyn Marie Marsh (The Rose Tattoo, Kinky Boots) and Kevin Michael Raponey (Rock Of Ages, Radio City). The trio seeks to speak with all nine of the female choreographers who were slated to bring musicals to Broadway in this unprecedented season. Read more reporting about the unprecedented year for female choreographers in Michael Mahany’s blog post, “Broadway’s Remarkable Year For Women On Broadway.”
The Pod De Deux Podcast team is back with another episode in the “Women Of Broadway” summer series, this week featuring Girl From The North Country choreographer, Lucy Hind.
In the episode, Lucy discusses the development of the Broadway musical ‘Girl From The North Country’ and the effects of halting performances due to COVID-19. She speaks eloquently about how the show mirrors our situation as a global society, in which “we’re all in the same storm but not in the same boat.” We also heard from Lucy about her start as a dancer growing up in South Africa before moving to the UK, her time dancing with the remarkable David Toole, and the inspiring movement work she’s done with Slung Low Theatre company.
Born in South African, choreographer and movement director Lucy Hind brought Girl From The North Country — a musical in which she shapes dance to the music of classic Bob Dylan songs — to Broadway this year. Lucy has worked on the show since its world premiere at London’s Old Vic Theatre back in 2017, for which she won critical acclaim. She’s also responsible for shows like Sting’s The Last Ship (UK, Toronto, and the recent US tour), The Light in the Piazza (London, LA, and Chicago), Ugly Lies the Bone at the National Theatre in London, Miss Littlewood at the RSC, The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare’s Globe and US Tour). Lucy is also an Associate Artist of Slung Low Theatre, works regularly on television for the BBC, and was the movement director for TRUTHSEEKERS for Amazon Studios.
In this new series, veteran Pod De Deux host Michael Mahany (Rock Of Ages, Wicked) is joined by fellow performers Ellyn Marie Marsh (The Rose Tattoo, Kinky Boots) and Kevin Michael Raponey (Rock Of Ages, Radio City). The trio seeks to speak with all nine of the female choreographers who were slated to bring musicals to Broadway in this unprecedented season. Read more reporting about the unprecedented year for female choreographers in Michael Mahany’s blog post, “Broadway’s Remarkable Year For Women On Broadway.”
The Pod De Deux Podcast team is back with the second episode of the “Women Of Broadway” summer series! This week we’re featuring Kelly Devine, Choreographer of Broadway’s Diana: A True Musical Story.
In addition to discussing her work on Broadway’s Diana, Kelly delves into everything from her start as a child dancer in Los Angeles to running auditions for adult dancers at age 13, to “trampolining” into Broadway choreography stardom with Rock Of Ages. She also reminds us how Come From Away serves as apoignant reminder of the beauty in humanity.
In this new series, veteran Pod De Deux host Michael Mahany (Rock Of Ages, Wicked) is joined by fellow performers Ellyn Marie Marsh (The Rose Tattoo, Kinky Boots) and Kevin Michael Raponey (Rock Of Ages, Radio City). The trio seeks to speak with all nine of the female choreographers who were slated to bring musicals to Broadway in this unprecedented season.
After working with Sergio Trujillo as the associate choreographer on Jersey Boys, Kelly Devine was launched into stardom when the Off-Broadway hit Rock Of Ages transferred to the Great White Way in 2009. On top of Rock Of Ages, Kelly has choreographed Broadway shows like Rocky, Doctor Zhivago, Come From Away, Escape To Margaritaville, and most recently, Diana: A True Musical Story. She’s earned Astaire, Chita Rivera, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and two Tony nominations and won an Olivier Award for her work on Come From Away in the West End. On television, Kelly choreographed for Amazon’s Mozart In The Jungle and is currently the series choreographer on the CW series, Katy Keene.
Episode 1 of the “Women Of Broadway” Series hosted by Michael Mahany, Ellyn Marie Marsh, & Kevin Michael Raponey
In this first episode of Pod De Deux’s “Women Of Broadway” series, Broadway choreographer Lorin Latarro sits down with Michael, Ellyn, and Kevin to discuss her current Broadway show, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ and much more! Lorin lets us in on how she was drawn to dance early on, her time at Juilliard (and how she skipped school to audition!), and her extensive resume as a performer, including 14 Broadway shows. She also talks about how the industry-wide pandemic shutdown has personally affected her and others in the Broadway community.
In the “Women Of Broadway” series, Pod De Deux seeks to speak with all 9 of the female choreographers who were slated to bring 14 new musicals to Broadway in this unprecedented season.
In this episode, recorded during the first week of NYC’s COVID quarantine, we spoke to Kyla Barkin and Aaron Selissen about their journey of building a dance company together, their latest project, Accidental Suite (which was scheduled to be presented on March 20th but postponed due to the virus), and the complex topics they explore in their work – including graduate-level mathematics! (You can see a documentary about the mathematics piece here and more dance films from their Titles Project on the Barkin/Selissen vimeo page!) We were particularly inspired to hear how Kyla and Aaron draw their audience members into an experience and create a sense of community that has in turn earned them a dedicated – and growing – base of diverse fans.
Kyla Barkin was raised in Tempe, AZ and studied with “La Mariquilla” at the Academia de Ballet Flamenco in Granada, Spain, before receiving her B.A. in Dance from UCLA. She has toured and presented work internationally, and she is the recipient of multiple awards.
Aaron Selissen is originally from Green Bay, WI and received his B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Butler University. His choreographic work has been presented across the U.S., and his teaching and performance career has taken him across the US and abroad.
BARKIN/SELISSEN PROJECT (B/SP) is a New York City-based contemporary dance company that Kyla and Aaron founded in 2009 to present their choreography through live performance and workshops. The company strives to remove barriers and create a shared experience between the creative team and audience members, allowing for a more inclusive and memorable event.
Kyla and Aaron have also created dance films. Accidental Suite premiered in June as 1 of 5 dance films in B/SP’s Titles Project, and the audience voted to have it expanded and presented live. The extended version was scheduled to premiere at Riverside Church on March 20th, but it has now been indefinitely postponed due to the Coronavirus. Featuring 9 dancers and an original score by Zac Selissen, it is a 75-minute celebration event including 30 minutes of live performance wrapped in a pre and post party. This performance installation evokes chance encounters, near misses, and the magnetic push and pull of relationships from start to finish.
In this episode of Pod De Deux, Michael Mahany speaks with Lady Gaga’s Visual Director and Choreographer, Richy Jackson! (Scroll down for extended video cut!)
Jackson, who grew up in the California Bay Area, tells us all about how he came to find dance, the fateful day when he left Tuskegee University as a pre-law student to move to LA and become a full-time dancer, and dishes on creating, casting, and shooting his most recent collaboration with Gaga — her latest music video, “Stupid Love“! Find Richy on Insta and Twitter @richysquirrel !
Richy Jackson is a world-class Visual Director and Choreographer who has spent the breadth of his 16-year career working in counts of eight alongside the most influential recording artists in the music industry. He is responsible for the widely acclaimed Lady Gaga Super Bowl Halftime Show and a master at inventing her signature dance style. He has served as Lady Gaga’s Visual Director/Choreographer for most of her career, creating the majority of her music videos, live performances, and television appearances. Jackson has also worked with Katy Perry, Keri Hilson, Nicki Minaj, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Brandy, to name a few.
In addition to being one of the most sought-after choreographers in the business, Jackson displays superlative talent in stage direction, camera-blocking, and direction in narrative/character development. He has put his directional creativity into performances for some of the most recognized shows on television both domestically and abroad, including American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Saturday Night Live, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show With David Letterman, The Academy Awards, The Grammy Awards, the MTV Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Awards, the BET Awards, and countless others.
While Jackson has spent thousands of hours developing and perfecting his craft in the rehearsal room, he is also an established television personality – appearing on-camera during multiple seasons of the wildly popular MTV franchise “Making The Band”. In 2011, Jackson was featured as a series regular on two hit shows: “The Dance Scene” (E! Entertainment) and “Born to Dance” (Black Entertainment Television).
In this second week of COVID quarantine in New York City, Michael and Clara had the privilege of connecting with multi-disciplinary art maker Gabri Christa over Zoom. Gabri is a dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, scholar and all-around artist with a rich history and intriguing body of work. She told us about the cross-roads culture she experienced growing up in the Dutch Caribbean island nation of Curaçao, where she took yoga with adults and absorbed cultural dance forms before encountering modern dance when she attended university in the Netherlands. Hearing Gabri’s story of choreographing and performing at a young age on the island was an inspiring reminder that the urge to create comes not from formal training but from a well of creativity within. Most recently, Gabri has been touring her multi-media project, Magdalena, which took shape in response to her mother’s dementia, and hosting/curating the second Moving Body-Moving Image festival of dance films at Barnard. The festival theme this year is aging. It will take place completely online on April 4th from 12-6pm – we hope you’ll tune in! https://www.movingbodymovingimage.com/festival
Multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging in form, Gabri Christa’s art-making spans film, choreography, performance, curation, writing, and more. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Barnard College and a member of Mayor de Blasio’s Cultural Advisory Commission. Gabri has danced and choreographed with companies such as Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, DanzAbierta and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Awards include the Guggenheim for Choreography, and five Jerome Foundation grants. Her choreographies have been presented nationally, internationally and locally at Central Park Summer Stage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Symphony Space, PS122 and for five seasons at Dance Theater Workshop (now New York Live Arts).
Jessica and Clara had the privilege of connecting with dance artist Megan Williams about her multi-layered career and many years of adventure in dance. Megan told us about getting started at Juilliard in the 80s and touring with Mark Morris Dance Group for 10 years, a relationship that evolved into an opportunity to stage his works for students and performers around the world that continues to this day. We also learned about Megan’s recent shift into choreography and her upcoming work, can I have it without begging, a live music and dance collaboration between Megan and award-winning composer Eve Beglarian. We found it fascinating that the process of developing the work has uncovered and shaped the layers of meaning within it, as have the inter-generational performers involved. We also discussed the importance of live music; it’s not easy to afford and incorporate live music as an independent choreographer, and we are excited that Megan was able to do so for this show! Don’t miss the world premiere at Danspace Project, March 26–28, 2020. You can learn more about Megan and her work at mwdanceprojects.com.
Megan Williams is an independent dance artist, choreographer, in demand teacher and repetiteur. Her choreography has been produced throughout the United States. In addition to performing her own work, she can be seen dancing with choreographer Rebecca Stenn and in Netta Yurashalmy’s Paramodernities project. In 1988, she joined the Mark Morris Dance Group; she danced with MMDG for 10 years, touring worldwide, teaching, and appearing in films such as Falling Down Stairs (with Yo Yo Ma), The Hidden Soul of Harmony, The Hard Nut and Dido and Aeneas. Williams continues her affiliation with Morris, as guest ballet master, guest rehearsal director, and as a stager of his works.
Jessica and Michael had a fun, energized and important conversation with Sean Dorsey, the U.S.’ first acclaimed transgender modern dance choreographer. Sean’s newest work, BOYS IN TROUBLE, unpacks masculinity with unflinching honesty from unapologetically trans and queer perspectives – and Sean likewise spoke openly about how his work incorporates and expresses unique perspectives on gender, as well as social justice. In fact, Sean shared the idea that all dance, as an inherently expressive art, is a form of social messaging for which the choreographer is responsible. He also shared some ways in which his commitment to the queer community and principles of openness impacts all aspects of his work even beyond the stage – for example using his tech rider to ensure that the spaces where his company performs include non-binary restrooms and the option of non-binary dressing rooms. It was particularly refreshing and motivating to hear details about the “terrified beginner’s welcome” workshops Sean hosts for all people of all body types, gender identities and movement levels across the country, as well as how his team’s background in activism allows them to consistently sell out shows to audiences that include many non-dancers. Let’s learn from Sean’s approach to help more people experience dance!
Sean Dorsey is an award-winning San Francisco-based choreographer, dancer and writer. Recognized as the United States’ first acclaimed transgender modern dance choreographer, he has toured his work to 30 US cities. Dorsey has been awarded five Isadora Duncan Dance Awards and the Goldie Award for Performance. He has been named in Dance Magazine’s 25 To Watch and named “San Francisco’s Best Dance Company” (SF Weekly). Most recently, Dorsey was awarded a Dance/USA Artist Fellowship. Dorsey has been awarded major support by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Dance/USA, and many more sources, as well as a variety of commissions from sources including American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, Queer Cultural Center in San Francisco, 7 Stages in Atlanta, and more.
Dorsey’s works are powerful explorations of human experience. They are highly physical, accessible, rooted in story, and danced with precision, guts and deep humanity. His newest work is BOYS IN TROUBLE, is a powerful evening of dances that unpack masculinity with unflinching honesty – from unapologetically trans and queer perspectives.
After a particularly busy fall performance season, Jessica and Clara decided to bring a new co-host onto the Pod de Deux team – and could not have been more thrilled when Michael Mahany jumped on board!! Despite a demanding schedule performing with the recently extended Rock of Agesand serving as New York City Correspondent & Host for Dance Network TV, Michael has already brought remarkable energy, enthusiasm and much-needed social media skills to Pod de Deux. After many years of interviewing dance stars on the Dance Network red carpet and publishing written interviews (like this one with PDD guest Tiffany Mills!), Michael also brings a familiarity with Broadway and commercial dance that will help PDD widen its scope even further. This refreshing new energy is just what we needed for 2020. Welcome, Michael! (Listeners you can follow Michael on instagram at @michaelmahany – and don’t forget @rockofagesmusical and Dance Network at @watchdancetv !)
Clara sat down with award-winning documentary filmmaker Catherine Tambini just days after Catherine’s new film, Perfectly Normal for Me, had its nationwide television premiere on the WORLD Channel. (The film can be streamed on worldchannel.org until November 29th!) Perfectly Normal for Me follows children and teens in a NYC after-school program called Dancing Dreams that is designed to help students with physical disabilities learn dance and express their interest in movement and performance. Catherine spoke about the universality of dance as well as the experience of making the film and her gratitude for the families who allowed her into their lives during filming. She also shared her own evolving experience with dance, speculated on the linkage between dance and social activism, and gave us a peek into the process of making a documentary film. We hope you will enjoy the interview and head over to worldchannel.org to stream Perfectly Normal for Me by Nov. 29th, 2019!
Catherine Tambini is an award-winning filmmaker and documentarian. Her past films include Hate Rising, about the 2016 presidential campaign rhetoric and the rise of the Alt Right; The State of Arizona, about Arizona’s struggle with illegal immigration; and Farmingville, about a small town on Long Island in the wake of the hate-based attempted murder of two Mexican day laborers. Catherine also co-produced the Academy Award-nominated Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse about George Balanchine’s iconic ballerina. She has won and been nominated for many additional awards, including an Emmy for The State of Arizona, the Sundance Special Jury Award for Farmingville, the Impact Award for Outstanding Documentary for Hate Rising, and more. In addition to her documentary work, Catherine has assisted in the production design of many well-known Hollywood films, and she has field produced and shot portions of several reality series. She is a Sundance Institute and MacArthur Foundation fellow. She holds a BFA from the University of Oklahoma and a MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
In this episode, our new co-host Michael joined the mic with Clara to interview choreographer, Tiffany Mills ahead of the world premiere of her new work, Not then, not yet. Tiffany shared how she drew inspiration for this evening-length work from Mary Shelley’s life and writings. The motif of liminality became a powerful, generative force behind the work to explore movement, emotion, and character in between contrasting states of being. Having come from a diverse background of tap, gymnastics, and modern dance, Tiffany revealed how she eventually became interested in choreographing dance from a theatrical and dramaturgical perspective. (more…)
Jessica and Clara had the great pleasure of interviewing five 2019 Bessie Award nominees this year – in order of interview: Caleb Teicher, Molly Poerstel, Shamar Watt, Ni’Ja Whitson and Leslie Cuyjet! (See below for nominations!) The Bessies – which celebrate their 35 anniversary this year – are New York City’s premier annual dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, and our interviewees could not have illustrated this more clearly. We were fascinated to dig into the inspiration and processes behind a sampling of the imaginative, diverse, socially important and truly outstanding works that are being recognized this year. We hope you will enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed conversing. For more about each artist, continue scrolling for individual bios/episodes! Note that the Bessies awards ceremony will take place on Monday, October 14th, 2019. Jessica and Clara will be there, alongside our five interviewees and of course many more. Come join us and be sure to say ‘hi’!
Caleb Teicher – Nominated for three awards: Outstanding Breakout Choreographer, Outstanding Production (More Forever, Guggenheim Works & Process ), and Outstanding Sound Design/Musical Composition (along with Conrad Tao), for the same work
Molly Poerstel – Nominated for Outstanding Performer for Sustained Achievement with Hilary Clark, David Dorfman, Jeanine Durning, Alex Escalante, Juliana F. May, Susan Rethorst, Roseanne Spradlin, and Larissa Velez-Jackson
Shamar Watt – Nominated for outstanding Performer for Sustained Achievement in the work of Nora Chipaumire
Ni’Ja Whitson – Nominated for two awards: Outstanding Production (Oba Qween Baba King Baba, Co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Abrons Arts Center), and costume co-designer / member of Outstanding Visual Design, for the same work, together with Jeanne Medina (Costumes), Gil Sperling (Video – featuring art works by Wangechi Mutu and Galvin Jantejes ), and Tuçe Yasak (Lighting)
Leslie Cuyjet – Nominated for Outstanding Performer for Sustained Achievement in the work of Jane Comfort, Niall Jones, Juliana F. May, Cynthia Oliver, and Will Rawls
Pod de Deux interviewed Leslie Cuyjet as part of a series of interviews with five 2019 NYC Bessie Award nominees. Leslie was nominated for a Bessie for Sustained Achievement with Jane Comfort, Niall Jones, Juliana F. May, Cynthia Oliver, and Will Rawls. We hope to do a full-length interview with her in the future!
Leslie Cuyjet is a dance and collaborative artist based in Brooklyn. She has collaborated, contributed, co-directed, facilitated, designed, and danced with a range of artists, including Kim Brandt, Yanira Castro/acanary torsi, Jane Comfort, David Gordon, Niall Noel Jones, Cynthia Oliver, Juliana F. May, KatieWorkum, Julian Barnett, Stephanie Acosta, Vanessa Walters, NARCISSISTER, Sean Donovan and Sebastián Calderón Bentin, Emily Wexler, David Thomson, Mark Dendy, The A.O. Movement Collective, and Will Rawls, among others. Cuyjet has been presented in New York by La MaMa (La MaMa Moves!Festival/The Current Sessions), Gibney Dance (DoublePlus), Center for Performance Research (Fall Movement), Movement Research (Fall Festival, Movement Research at Judson Church), AUNTS (Realness, Populous), and Danspace Draftworks. Leslie has held residencies at Chez Bushwick, Movement Research, and Center for Performance Research, and Yaddo.
Pod de Deux interviewed Ni’Ja Whitsonas part of a series of interviews with five 2019 NYC Bessie Award nominees. Ni’Ja was nominated for a Bessie for outstanding production and Visual Design of Oba Qween Baba King Baba, which was Co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Abrons Arts Center. We hope to do a full-length interview with them in the future!
Ni’Ja Whitson (CA/NYC) is a Creative Capital and Bessie Award winning, Nonbinary Transinterdisciplinary artist and writer, who has been referred to as “majestic” by The New York Times and recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. Theyare a 2018 MAP Fund recipient, featured choreographer of the 2018 CCA Biennial, 2019 USA Artists Fellowship Nominee, and 2018-2020 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow. Other recent awards include a Jerome/Camargo Fellowship, Watermill Residency, Dance in Process (DiP) Residency, Hedgebrook Fellowship, LMCC Process Space Residency, Bogliasco Fellowship, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange Artist Residency. Whitson is an Assistant Professor of experimental choreography at UC Riverside and founder of The NWA Project. www.nijawhitson.com
Ni’Ja’s Oba Qween Baba King Baba engages spiritual multiplicity and the role of Queerness in the Divine. The work’s title is based on the Yorùbá word “Oba,” which is a genderless term that has come to be known as a king. An iteration of this work was presented during Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance (Platform 2018) curated by Reggie Wilson.
Pod de Deux interviewed Shamar Watt as part of a series of interviews with five 2019 NYC Bessie Award nominees. Shamar was nominated for a Bessie for Sustained Achievement in the work of Nora Chipaumire. We hope to do a full-length interview with him in the future!
Shamar Watt is an artist born in Kingston, Jamaica, he was raised in both Jamaica and Miami, FL. He received his AA in psychology, and a BFA in Dance at FSU. What drives Watt as an artist is the quest to fill in the blank spots of history by projecting and manifesting the potential of the possible past-futures/futures alike. He uses the Body as a weapon to manifest the powers vested in him to attain emancipation and liberation of the whole self – mind, body and soul for himself, the people, and for all mankind, through sound waves, gravitational waves, spirit waves. He is also deeply invested in the potentiality/impossibility of bridging the divide of the old/new African. Watt has researched and performed with Nora Chipaumire since 2015, in Zimbabwe and internationally. Watt continues to work on his own craft as an emerging choreographer/sound engineer. He has been performing and presenting his own work professionally for 3 years. His work has been presented in secular venues and at sacred happenings frequently. Shamar Watt was a 2018 Bessie nominee, and also elected as one of 2019 top 25 to watch from Dance Magazine!
Pod de Deux interviewed Molly Poerstel as part of a series of interviews with five 2019 NYC Bessie Award nominees. Molly was nominated for a Bessie for Sustained Achievement with Hilary Clark, David Dorfman, Jeanine Durning, Alex Escalante, Juliana F. May, Susan Rethorst, Roseanne Spradlin, and Larissa Velez-Jackson. Molly talked about her experience dancing for a range of artists and how these artists have influenced her artistry and creative process. She talked about Jeanine Durning’s “inging,” among others. We hope to do a full-length interview with her in the future! *Note that when Molly refers to Abrons’ underground theater, she is referring to the fact that the theater is not a proscenium theater.
Molly Poerstel is a dance artist whose dance career spans twenty years. As a performer she has collaborated with Ivy Baldwin, David Dorfman Dance Company (05-09), Jeanine Durning, Alex Escalante, Juliana F. May, Susan Rethorst, Roseanne Spradlin, and Larissa Velez-Jackson, among others. Poerstel has taught at SUNY Purchase Dance Conservatory, the Dalton School and The Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School. She was a 2015 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence and is a 2018 BAX Parent Space Grant Recipient. Her choreographic works include: Are we a Fossil, and of Facings (2016), Stolen Grounds (2014), The Highlands (2014), Hungry Ghost (2013) and Do Beast (2012). She is currently in process making bottom feeder, which premieres at Abrons Arts Center in 2020. mollypoerstel.com
Pod de Deux interviewed Caleb Teicher as part of a series of interviews with five 2019 NYC Bessie Award nominees. Caleb was nominated for a Bessie for outstanding production in More Forever Guggenheim Works & Process. We hope to do a full-length interview with him in the future!
Caleb Teicher began his dance career as a founding member of Michelle Dorrance’s celebrated company, Dorrance Dance, in 2011. Other favorite performance credits include The Chase Brock Experience, Syncopated City Dance Company, The Bang Group, Sally Silvers & Dancers, and West Side Story (Int’l Tour and London).
Since founding Caleb Teicher and Company (CT&Co) in 2015, Teicher’s creative work has expanded to engagements and commissions from The Joyce Theater, New York City Center, Works & Process @ The Guggenheim, The Kennedy Center (with Ben Folds & the National Symphony Orchestra), “Regina Spektor on Broadway”, and many others.
Caleb is a 2019 New York City Center Choreographic Fellow, a 2019 Bessie Award Nominee for Outstanding Breakout Choreographer, one of Dance Magazine’s 2012 “25 to Watch”, and a 2011 Bessie Award Winner for Outstanding Individual Performance. His work has been featured in publications including The New York Times, NPR, Forbes, Dance Magazine, Vogue, and Interview Magazine.
Caleb continues to engage with dance communities as an instructor at international Tap and Jazz Dance festivals. He is a proud alum of the School at Jacob’s Pillow and the National YoungArts Foundation.
Jessica and Clara interviewed choreographer, dancer, actor, and director, John Kelly, in between rehearsals for his work “Underneath the Skin,” premiering at NYU Skirball this weekend, October 11th & 12th! John took us through his constellation of muses, influences, and inspiration through the years, from his first sighting of baby ballerina on the Ed Sullivan Show, to Nureyev and Fontaine dancing Romeo and Juliette on television, to his training at ABT, followed by the Harkness School with David Howard – and then on to his chats with Gelsey Kirkland, working with Charles Weidman, painting portraits as an artist, watching punk drag queens at Pyramid, and dancing with Larry Ray’s original Trockadero company, the Cockettes. Through this journey, John talked about how he became drawn to art with physicality and expressionism. For his upcoming show, “Underneath the Skin,” we learned about John’s process of weaving Samuel Steward’s writings, life story, and LGBT history into the theatrical narrative and rich visual design while paying homage to Steward’s heros, Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde. (more…)
Jessica and Clara talked to Jenn Freeman, a choreographer, artistic director of Freemove Dance, and prolific teacher of contemporary dance. Jenn shared how she developed her theatrical and highly physical style of dance while traversing multiple dance worlds from modern dance in academia to contemporary style in the dance convention circuit. She talked about how it all started with a chance encounter with Mia Michaels and led to more exciting opportunities and connections. She also shared her insider view on how the convention dance world has changed over time and how it has been positively impacting enrollment in academic dance programs. (more…)
Jessica sat down with Argentinian dance and dance-theater artist Anabella Lenzu to discuss her impressive body of work and philosophies on life and art. Not only a dancer and choreographer, but also an author and dedicated teacher, Anabella had in-depth perspectives to share on a wide range of topics, including the inseparability of life and creative work; the impacts of technology and social media; how the US and South America differ in their approaches to dance and dance pedagogy; and the process of helping her students find focus and make life choices in an ever-present sea of distractions. Anabella emphasized the importance of maintaining curiosity as an artist and dissolving the often restrictive boundaries between disciplines, communities, individuals and more. Her own enthusiasm for her work was a pleasure to experience! Keep your eyes peeled for Annabella’s second book, “Teaching Dance through Meaningful Gestures,” in 2020.(more…)
In this episode of Pod de Deux podcast, Clara and Jessica sat down with dancer, curator and Bollywood choreographer, Pooja Uberoi. Pooja shared how Bollywood has changed over recent years to incorporate a range of styles including Indian classical dance, jazz, and hip-hop. She is organizing this year’s New York City Dance Week, a 10-day dance festival that partners with studios across NYC to give back to the community. Pooja also curates Funkar (Urdu for “artist within you”), a performance night of diverse contemporary and traditional dance that takes place every month at Dixon place. Pooja talked about her passion for helping artists find a platform, which led her to start ArtistsEast West in 2018 to represent Indian artists abroad. Jessica and Clara also asked her about the dance form she developed, BollyJazz, which combines Bollywood and Jazz. You can find Pooja and Bollyjazz at multiple studios throughout NYC. Finally, Pooja talked about IkiGAI – USA, a multifaceted company that works with artists to help them monetize and make money from various crafts.(more…)
Early in 2019, Clara sat down with Troy Ogilvie – Choreographer, performer and improv teacher – for a wide-ranging conversation that revealed Troy’s deep-seated “JOD (joy of dance)” and many insights into the process of creating movement from a place of purpose. Troy introduced us to the terms kinesphere and proprioception and described her own fascination with the tension between structure and spirit that we find at the heart of dance. She also told us about performing as Lady Macbeth in the world-famous interactive show Sleep No More! Troy teaches improv at Peridance every Wednesday at 10am. You can follow her @troyanosaurus and learn more at http://troyogilvie.squarespace.com/!(more…)
In honor of CDI’s upcoming 5th anniversary performances, Jessica and Clara interviewed the Director of CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI), Alyssa Alpine, and Choreographer, Gabrielle Lamb of Pigeonwing Dance.
Alyssa talked about how CDI started as a pilot initiative and grew to become a successful private/public partnership model of support for artists in NYC. She shared how she works with various CUNY campuses to provide rehearsal and performance spaces for artists, and creative ways in which artists have connected with students.
Gabrielle talked about how CDI helped her produce her first full-length evening performance, launching her trajectory to present more evening-length work. She also shared her artistic process for her world premiere for CDI’s 5th Year Fest, in March.
Alyssa and Gabrielle talked about some of the many challenges artists face today, like supporting emerging and mid-career artists, getting audiences to come to shows, finding entry-points for artistic work, and the competitive dance landscape.
CUNY Dance Initiative will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a series of performances by past CDI artist recipients, called 5th Year Fest, from March 20–23, 2019, at Baruch Performing Arts Center, in Manhattan. Tickets range from $11 to $36, and can be purchased online at www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac
5th Year Fest performing artists include Heidi Latsky Dance; Sonia Olla & Ismael Fernandez; Andrew Nemr; Miki Orihara; Loni Landon; Urban Bush Women; Kinesis Project dance theatre, Gabrielle Lamb; Parijat Desai; MBDance; and Ephrat Asherie Dance. (more…)
For PDD’s first interview of 2019, Clara connected with Conductor Ming Luke over Skype. Despite being an incredibly versatile artist who conducts for a wider variety of productions than is typical in the US (as discussed in the interview!), Luke has developed expertise in conducting for dance and has served as the Principal Guest Conductor for the San Francisco Ballet (SFB) for many years. He shared incredible insight into the nuances of orchestral collaboration with dance artists, from the array of adjustments a conductor may make within a given tempo, to the “ah-ha” moment of realizing how to time the notes that correspond to a grand jeté. We also discussed the ways in which more detailed communication can improve understanding between dancer and conductor. It was particularly revelatory to hear Luke describe the joys of conducting in terms of a visceral emotional-physicality that we might just as easily apply to dance itself! Follow Ming’s always-exciting new ventures at mingluke.com.
Ming Luke is a versatile conductor whose background as a dancer gives him the perspective to excel in collaborating with dance companies. As the Principal Guest Conductor for the San Francisco Ballet (SFB), Luke has led over one hundred productions at the historic War Memorial Opera House. Embarking on eight tours with the company, he has presented time-honored classics like Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet at the John F. Kennedy Center and Sadler’s Wells. Ming Luke has also conducted for the Bolshoi Orchestra in Russia, the New York City Ballet Orchestra, Nashville Symphony/Ballet, Napa Regional Dance Company, Boston Ballet, and l’Orchestre Prométhée in Paris as part of a residency with Les Etés de la Danse. He has worked closely with some of the most preeminent choreographers of the 21st century, including Justin Peck, Christopher Wheeldon, Mark Morris, Alexei Ratmansky, and Liam Scarlett. Beyond dance, Ming Luke has worked with ensembles and orchestras across the world and conducted pops concerts in a variety of venues. He has been recognized nationally for his work with music education and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Conducting from Carnegie Mellon.
We hope you’ll derive inspiration for the new year from our interview with the awe-inspiring Amy Jordan – author, inspirational speaker, consultant, choreographer and classically trained dancer! Amy spoke with us about overcoming the many challenges life has brought her, with dance as a backdrop of strength and renewal. She talked us through her D.A.N.C.E. method of approaching situations: determination, acceptance, never-give-up, courage, and enthusiasm. (You can learn more about it in her new book, Dance Because You Can: 5 Steps to Transform Trauma into Triumph, available on Amazon!) Amy also emphasized the importance of continuing to seek, strive and work through every challenge in life as an ongoing process, rather than giving in to what may be an increasingly prevalent mindset that sees success and failure in black and white terms. Enjoy the conversation, and happy 2019!
Amy has Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes and fought most of her life to hide it. As a professional dancer, she experienced complications from the diabetes that caused her to lose sight in one eye becoming legally blind. Unable to continue her dance career, she turned her attention to supporting others living with diabetes. This began her life-long work as an advocate and motivator. She founded the SWEET ENUFF Movement to help prevent childhood obesity through dance and exercise, which became a top 5 national finalist of First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘End Childhood Obesity Challenge.’
Amy faced another major life challenge when she was hit and run over by a bus while living in New York City. The accident nearly ended her life, and her leg came close to being amputated. She used her dance training and discipline to survive dozens of surgeries and managed to regain use of her leg. After years of rehabilitation, Amy returned to fitness classes, began choreographing and returned to her essence as a dancer in 2014 when she founded The Victory Dance Project, a NYC-based professional dance company. Today, Amy strives to inspire and motivate others to overcome ANY adversity. She continues to choreograph and and is a sought-after motivational speaker and coach. Amy shares her unique DANCE philosophy in her signature presentation Dance because You Can. She believes that the process of Creating Your Own Victory Dance is the key to success in business, leadership and life. Amy’s book, Dance Because You Can: 5 Steps to Transform Trauma into Triumph was released in October 2018.
We were so happy to have the privilege of squeezing in an interview with Paul Lightfoot, Artistic Director of Nederlands Dans Theater, while he was briefly in town for New York City Center’s 2018 Fall for Dance Festival. Paul’s lively enthusiasm made for a conversation that was both informative and entertaining! He shared insight into what he and Sol León each bring to the table in their long-standing choreographic/life partnership, described the origin of the pieces that NDT2 will be presenting at City Center in January (16th-19th), and painted a great picture of the bold history of NDT. Of course we also had to express our awe for NDT’s famously prolific dancers, with whom Paul claims to be “in love, with each and every one of them!” Get tickets here to see NDT in January!
Paul Lightfoot is Artistic Director of NDT. He joined the company in 1985, starting as a dancer with NDT 2. Two years later Lightfoot joined NDT 1, where he danced until 2008. During this time, he started choreographing in collaboration with Sol León. León and Lightfoot have been a prolific and widely known choreographic duo since 1989. Together they have created more than fifty pieces for the company, for which they have received prestigious awards. In 2002 León and Lightfoot were appointed house choreographers for NDT. In 2011, Lightfoot was appointed Artistic Director.
Nederlands Dans Theater is recognized as one of the most prolific and creative contemporary dance companies in the world. It consists of two multi-national companies: NDT 1 and NDT 2. The latter gives classically trained dancers (between the ages of 17 and 23) a chance to develop their artistic personalities during a three-year trajectory. NDT 1 consists of 28 dancers, each one excelling in their solo qualities and renowned for their versatility, astonishing technique and virtuosic expression. Since its inception in 1959, NDT has built a rich, ambitious and idiosyncratic repertoire of over 600 works by master choreographers such as Jiří Kylián and Hans van Manen, León and Lightfoot, associate choreographers Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke, and high-profile guests such as Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, Hofesh Shechter, Sharon Eyal & Gai Behar, and many many more.
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.
Jessica interviewed choreographer Tere O’Connor leading up to his NYC premiere of Long Run at NYU Skirball (10/12 & 10/13). They talked about how Tere’s fascination with structure led to the multi-layered aesthetic he has become known for. Tere revealed some of the processes he uses to convolute movement phrases, focusing on rhythm, the mixing of dance techniques, density, and invalid structures. (Learn more about all of these in the interview!) Tere related his choreographic processes to the nature of the mind itself, which remains in and out of a constant episodic flow of consciousness.(more…)
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!(more…)
Jessica and Clara interviewed Tiler Peck leading up to the premier of her new documentary, BalletNow, which will be available for streaming on Hulu on Friday, July 20th. The film, directed by Steven Cantor (who directed Sergei Polunin’s DANCER) and produced by Elisabeth Moss, shows Tiler assume many roles as curator, artistic director, rehearsal director and dancer in preparation for a performance at the Music Center in Los Angeles last July. In the interview, Tiler revealed what it was like rising to the greatest challenge of her life in preparing for a production that included 15 ballets in three programs, all while dancing in eight pieces. Tiler spoke about her curatorial rationale for the performance, which featured choreographers Justin Peck, Christopher Wheeldon, Michelle Dorrance, Bill Irwin, and more. Beyond BalletNow, we talked about Tiler’s enthusiasm for stepping into a new role as choreographer this summer at Vail Dance Festival, how leadership at City Ballet is developing after the departure of Peter Martins, and how she has become known as “the ballerina who stops time.” (more…)
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!!(more…)
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…)
In this episode, Jessica and Clara interviewed dancer Paul Hamilton about his experience collaborating with a diverse range of choreographers including Alonzo King, Elizabeth Streb, Reggie Wilson, Ralph Lemon and Keely Garfield. He shared a bit about each choreographer’s style and process and talked about his own journey of discovering and re-discovering dance as his passion and joy. He also let us in on some of the fascinating dramaturgical processes behind Reggie Wilson / Fist and Heel Performance Group’s production of Moses(es), and Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room (from which the above image derived).
Soul Train was one of the influences behind Paul’s Bessie-nominated performance of Scaffold Room. Enjoy this video homage to Soul Train!(more…)
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…)
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 inPointe 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.
In this episode, Jessica was in Havana, Cuba interviewing Marta Ortega, a dancer with Acosta Danza. Acosta Danza was formed in 2016 when international ballet star, Carlos Acosta retired from a highly regarded 30-year ballet career with the Royal Ballet and moved back to Cuba. The company commissions international choreographers such as Mats Ek and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui to create original contemporary works on its dancers. In 2018, Acosta Danza will perform in Havana and tour in the US, Europe and Singapore. Learn more at http://www.acostadanza.com/en/
Acosta Danza will perform at New York City Center April 25-27th as part of the ¡Adelante, Cuba! Festival. Get tickets here. (more…)
In this episode of Pod de Deux podcast, Clara and Jessica interviewed Stephan Quinci while traveling in Berlin. Originally hailing from Italy and Ohio, Stephan now calls Berlin his home where he collaborates with artists and investigates his own performance work. Stephan shared how his current training in release technique influences his performance work and free expression on the Berlin Club dance floor. We talked about his dialectic process for creating conceptual performance, and the European performance landscape.
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…)
In this episode of Pod de Deux, Clara and Jessica interviewed performance curator, Ali Rosa-Salas, who serves as the Director of Performance Programs at Abrons Arts Center. We spoke about the many roles of a performance curator and how Ali approaches her work at Abrons as she strives to create a place for inquiry and community. In the process, we learned about the history of Henry Street Settlement and its founder, Lillian Wald. Clara joined Ali and Jessica via skype from Minnesota where she was visiting her family for Thanksgiving.(more…)
In this episode we spoke to Ben Oddo, Content Manager of Dance Network as well as Michael Mahany, NYC Dance Network Correspondent. We learned how co-founders, Julie Stadler and David Medeiros, formed Dance Network. Michael shared his favorite moments as a correspondent and journalist of dance in New York City, as well as his passion for dance, wine, and cooking. Ben and Michael spoke about the network’s growing dance content and future plans for the platform.
We are also so excited to announce our new partnership with Dance Network which will be launched with the release of this episode! Pod de Deux will now be featured on Dance Network along with their family of programs. (more…)
[*If you’re listening with headphones, be sure to use both left & right for this episode!*]
This month, we had the good fortune to catch Marc Bamuthi Joseph for a quick interview while he was in NYC! Marc is widely recognized as one of the most vital voices in performance, arts education, and artistic curation. We packed so much into this relatively short conversation, speaking with Marc about how community engagement and social change are inextricably bound to his artistic practice; his new, soccer-inspired piece, /pehLO-tah/, which will be performed at BAM Oct 18th-21st; and some of the ways in which he ties performance work to community engagement efforts. In the process, we touched on the concept of black joy, parallels between soccer and choreography, and even “the semiotics of the goal scorer’s celebration.” 😉 Obviously a fascinating figure on both intellectual and creative levels, Marc gives us a great deal to think about, and we encourage everyone to see /pehLO-tah/ at BAM, Oct 18th-21st!(more…)
In this episode, we interview Fran Kirmser, co-author of the new book, A Life in Dance: A Practical Guide. Fran revealed how a class assignment turned into a quest with Rebecca Stenn to create a resource book for dancers. Fran read from the book and shared some stories from contributing artists. Throughout our conversation, we talked about the various strengths and skills dancers possess that they can rely on to make their own life in dance and beyond. Look for the book on Amazon and www.alifeindance.com. (more…)
Jessica and Clara finally reunited in the studio for this interview with Miki Orihara, Choreographer and former Graham dancer. We speculated on the differences between modern dance and ballet, and Miki shared her thoughts on how Graham’s technique sticks with the dancer as well as her own efforts to both honor and diverge from that technique. She also shared fascinating stories about entering the dance world after coming to America from Japan and her initial attraction to the theater. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did.(more…)
Jessica and Sarah Benvenuti, founder of Benvenuti Arts, met up for a friendly chat and drink on a rooftop bar in New York City. Sarah shared her seasoned approach to fundraising for small arts organizations and artists while sharing helpful tips for artists interested in increasing their fundraising impact. They talked about practical fundraising strategies, donor and audience engagement, the case for support, grant writing, crowdfunding, fiscal sponsorship, and more. Artists, this is not an episode to miss! (more…)
Jessica had the pleasure of interviewing lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, who was recently nominated for a Tony award for her work on A Doll’s House Part 2 (on Broadway through July 23rd). Jessica and Jennifer chatted over coffee about many aspects of her process starting with her approach to collaboration with directors and choregraphers, to how she gets inspiration, key differences in lighting dance and theater, as well as trends in lighting, and tricks of the trade. (more…)
We had the incredible fortune of connecting with Vincent Paterson, Director and Choreographer who has created some of the most iconic moments in pop culture. Joining us remotely via Skype, Vincent spoke candidly and humorously of his work with Michael Jackson and Madonna, among other legends, and shared a few of the fun stories from his upcoming book. We delved into the process and nature of choreographing for celebrities who come to the table with their own style, as well as the range of responsibilities ascribed to a choreographer and to a director for large-scale commercial or creative projects. Over the course of the conversation, we definitely got a sense of why so many people from all across the arts world love to work with Vincent. We’re honored and excited to share the interview with you, our listeners! (more…)
Clara recently sat down with Eric Gauthier at the Joyce Theater when his company, Gauthier Dance, presented the New York premiere of NIJINSKI. We got through many topics in a short time in this interview, covering Eric’s early inspiration to pursue dance (thanks to the musical Cats!), the process that allowed him to establish Gauthier Dance and grow the company relatively rapidly under the auspices of Theaterhaus Stuttgart, and his overall mission to connect with new and expanded dance audiences by presenting the “sunny side of modern dance.” He explained how Gauthier Dance is like a clown, on one side humor and on the other side a foundation of tragedy. Based on what we’ve seen of the company, we certainly agree and couldn’t recommend them more strongly.(more…)
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(more…)
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.(more…)
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…)
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.
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 www.jordanmatter.com/.
Enjoy this slideshow of a few of the images we spoke about during the podcast!
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 Cumming, Michael 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.
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 of the decision she faces, going into high school, 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…)
We recently joined Oscar nominated filmmaker Steven Cantor in the West Village office of Stick Figure Productions to talk about his new epic documentary, “DANCER.” Centered around the once-notorious “bad boy of ballet,” Sergei Polunin, this character-driven documentary instead reveals a charming and multi-dimensional dancer of prodigious talent who has a complicated relationship with his craft. In conversation with Steven, we delved further into the nature of his latest subject as well as his process of creating character-driven documentaries in general. Don’t miss “DANCER” if you haven’t seen it yet (Amazon, iTunes), and stay tuned for Stick Figure’s latest documentary (also dance-related!), “Step,” premiering at Sundance this coming January.(more…)
In this episode we had a fascinating interview with b-girl, house dancer, choreographer and recent Bessie award winner Ephrat Asherie of Ephrat Asherie Dance. Ephrat revealed how she discovered and became drawn to the “immediacy” of breaking and house dancing. In the process, we learned about the history, music and context behind these dance traditions and how she brings them to the stage. We ended with a valuable discussion on the importance of the role that dance choreographers must assume in understanding and acknowledging their influences, using the example of the widespread influence of hip hop in the contemporary dance world. (more…)
Helene Davis loves her job. We sat down with Dance Publicist, Helene, and learned how she created her dream job and started her own business. We were inspired to hear how much joy she derived working with luminaries in the performing arts world and the people who made her job interesting over the years. (more…)
We were lucky to catch Prince Credell of Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) at City Center during a busy day of rehearsal for the compay’s appearance at Fall for Dance. (NDT will be back for a full engagement in November! Get tickets!) Prince talked to us about his experience working with the exciting range of contemporary choreographers who come through NDT, learning to dance as a character, and some of his proudest moments as a teacher of dance. Speaking with Prince was an absolute pleasure, and we can’t recommend more highly seeing him perform with one of the most impressive and innovative dance companies of today at City Center Nov 16th-19th.(more…)
Jessica and Clara visited choreographer and founder of BalletCollective, Troy Schumacher (and his cute dog Shallot), at his sunny apartment in NYC. We learned about Troy’s collaborative approach to creating ballets by integrating artists who work in different mediums, such as music and photography, into the process and presentation of work. We also discussed his current aesthetic interests and were impressed by his ability to balance the demands of multiple roles: choreographer, director of a contemporary ballet company and not least of all, ballet dancer with NYCB. We had the pleasure of seeing BalletCollective perform last fall and we look forward to seeing the company again on October 27th and 28th at NYU Skirball Center in Manhattan. Buy tickets before they sell out! Oh, and if you too are curious to see the “World’s Greatest Victory Dances” that Troy choreographed for PlayStation, check out the playlist on YouTube.(more…)
Credo: Choreography by Matthew Neenan for Ballet X
We brought costume designer Reid Bartelme back to the studio, nearly a year after our first interview with him, to delve further into his design process and his vast knowledge of the dance landscape at large. In the meantime to our 2015 interview, the New York Times published an article about Reid highlighting his ability to bring together often-disparate factions of the dance world. We addressed the themes of that article, including the best strategies for learning and educating across worlds, the stigmas that sometimes get attached to one dance world by another, and how the terms “downtown” and “uptown” come into play. (Check out Danspace Project!) As usual, Reid was a lively conversationalist and a complete pleasure to engage. Here are few photos of costumes by Reid & Harriet that came up in the course of conversation, including the notorious “S&M bunny” ears for Trey McIntyre’s Ballet X.
We had an engaging conversation about a recent dance film collaboration between filmmaker Ron Honsa, choreographer Robin Becker, and producer Nan Penman. Watch the trailer here. We learned how Robin and eventually Ron became inspired by the historical events and subject matter based on the book They Marched Into Sunlight, written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Maraniss.(more…)
(Ori Flomin, right, watches his dancers perform in his workshop.)
We spent a fantastic day at the ImPulsTanz Dance Festival in Vienna, Austria on July 22nd, during the first week of the festival, and we’re absolutely thrilled to share our interviews from the day! In between taking movement workshops in the morning, observing a workshop dedicated to the work of Tino Sehgal in the afternoon and seeing Simon Mayer’s“Sons of Sissy” performance at night, we spent time speaking to participants and artists on site. Below is a run-down of our interviews (just click “more”), including approximate start times in the recording. Remember they take place on site at the festival, so you’ll hear lively background noise (and even some beautiful opera during Ray Chung’s)! (more…)
In our first Skype interview, we connected with Kimberly Falker, founder of Balancing Pointe podcast and Premier Dance Network. Kimberly shared how she became inspired to start the first dance podcast and eventually the first dance podcast network. She also revealed tips and advice on dance podcasting and opened up about lessons learned and her greatest assets for success—consistency, work ethic and going back to her “why.” Learn how she continues to expand the conversation on dance as she encourages other dancers with her mantra of podcasting for all.
We were delighted to sit down again with Nel Shelby, dance videographer and entrepreneur, to follow up on our brief conversation from earlier this year at the Dance on Camera Festival. In this episode we delve deeper into Nel’s filmmaking process for PS DANCE!, her highly successful new documentary about dance education in public schools that has spawned a movement to bring dance to every child. (You can find our interviews with PS DANCE! viewers here.) We also learn about Nel’s intuitive, collaborative approach to making documentaries and dance films and about how she built her own company, Nel Shelby Productions, over time. Nel articulates her learnings about drawing out interviewees by being present without becoming the focus and shares a positive, optimistic attitude about the future of dance.
Nel Shelby is the founder of Nel Shelby Productions, a production company based in NYC and focused specifically on preserving and promoting dance through dance videography. (more…)
We sat down with Jessica and learned about her approach to choreography and her latest work Thousand Yard Stare, which will be presented at the Joyce June 14th through the 19th. She revealed how her education at Juilliard eventually put her on the path of choreography and how she came to realize that a performance career was not for her. We also talked about her experience forming her own company and opening a dance studio in Long Island City. For more information about her show at the Joyce, visit Joyce.org or visit Jessica Lang’s website.
In this episode we speak with Greg Miller, founder of Dance Parade New York. We were fascinated to learn that Dance Parade was started in response to New York City’s Cabaret Laws, restrictive laws that require business owners to obtain an expensive Cabaret License in order to allow dancing in their establishments. Upholding the Cabaret Laws, the courts went so far as to say that “dance is not expressive.” We couldn’t disagree more, as you’ll hear in our further discussions with Greg about the 5Rhythms technique and the expressive community of Burning Man. Be sure to attend this year’s Dance Parade on Saturday, May 21st, where you’ll see 81 forms of dance! Learn more at http://danceparade.org/ and at https://www.facebook.com/DanceParadeNY.
Pod de Deux attended this Dance/NYC 2016 Symposium discussion and workshop and learned how the CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI) is developing new dance audiences while offering NYC dance companies free space to rehearse and perform. After the session, we interviewed PDD alum Jamie Benson, who presented helpful tips on how to build a following with social media strategies. We also recorded enthusiastic feedback from audience members and another presenter, Charles Rice-Gonzalez, a CUNY Venue Director.
Audience members were enthusiastic to share what they learned from this Dance/NYC 2016 Symposium session, which spotlighted select funding initiatives underway to address racial justice and equity in dance and the larger cultural sector.
At the Dance/NYC 2016 Symposium we gathered thought-provoking feedback on an array of discussions presented throughout the day, including: New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Diversity Initiative, Dance with Technology: Silicon Alley Meets Silicon Valley, National Voices: Embodying Equity and Inclusion at Dance/USA, and A Journey through Juba and Other Social Dances.
In June 2015, the Center for Urban Future published its second Creative New York report, which tracks trends in New York’s creative sector over a ten-year period and offers recommendations for real estate affordability, government funding and support, economic and community development, and diversity and inclusivity. This session, moderated by the researcher Adam Forman, puts members of the report’s advisory board into conversation about the study’s findings and its implications for dance artists and companies. He started the discussion by asking panel speakers: Are you an optimist or pessimist about the future of dance in NYC?
We continued the discussion with audience members and one of the featured speakers, Potri Ranka Manis, Founder and Artistic Director of Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage.
Organizations were onsite at the Dance/NYC 2016 Symposium, offering information to dancers and dance-makers. We learned more about valuable resources provided by The Actor’s Fund (which recently acquired Career Transitions for Dancers), Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Jean-Louis Law, and Pentacle. Listen to learn more!
We sat down with Miro Magloire, choreographer of New Chamber Ballet, to learn how his musical background influences his expressive style of contemporary ballet choreography, what it was like being a piano accompanist for ballet class, and how he selects fascinating contemporary composers for his work, like Karlheinz Stockhausen. We also had an interesting chat about the definition of musicality and how he uses his dancers to express his unique vision.
You can see his work on April 15th and 16th at City Center Studios (130 W. 56th Street) and also on May 19th at Florence Gould Hall (55 East 59th Street). Learn more about New Chamber Ballet and upcoming shows at www.newchamberballet.com
We talked to a few audience members about highlights from a strong roster of creative short films presented in the Shorts Program I at Dance On Camera Festival. We heard a lot about Indigo Grey and enthusiastic commentary about the rest of the roster as well. It was a great way to end our day at Dance on Camera Festival!
We spoke to Marta Renzi, choreographer and director of Honeymoon, a hot short film with a surprising twist featuring dancers Carlos Gonzalez and Tina Vasquez. She gave us a sneak peek into her inspiration and process behind the film before we saw it on the big screen.
Each year, the Dance on Camera Festival at Lincoln Center screens one Work-in-Progress. through the Dance Film Association‘s Production Grant, Alexandra Shilling’s latest video project The Other Side of Stillness | Installation was selected and screened as a special event on February 13. Alex talked to Pod de Deux about the process of making the project and what it was like working with DFA to present her work.
Flamenco is one of the world’s few art forms that is believed to be passed down exclusively through bloodlines. For Barcelona’s Gypsy community, it can’t be learned at a school or on paper. It is lived within the home, created at the bar and perfected on the street corner. Bajari, directed by Eva Vila, goes to all those places with the dancer Karime Amaya, who is working with some of the most talented up-and-coming musicians and dancers to create an innovative show, and little 5-year old Juanito Manzano who takes his first steps toearn his white flamenco boots. We talked to Ron Honsa, board member of Dance Films Association about the film.
Audience members of all ages shared their love for Natalia Makarova after a screening of her self-directed Ballerina Program 1: Body and Soul–the first section of a four part BBC Documentary series. They gushed over her career, partnerships, free spirit, charm, and her lasting influence on ballet.
Horizontes is a documentary featuring dancers from three generations in Cuba, including the famous Alicia Alonso. It screened with the whimsical short film Cubano Bas, made by Kathy Rose with the original composition of Greg Boyer. We spoke to an audience member about Horizontes and to Kathy and Greg about Cubano Bas.
One thing we learned about Galen Bremer, Associate Director of Dance Films Association, is that he likes to pontificate about dance (his words)! Enjoy a few fun minutes of pontification that we managed to squeeze out of his busy day in between screenings.
Did you know that Dance Films Association gives high school students the opportunity to screen their work to the festival via Capturing Motion NYC? Neither did we – until we encountered a bunch of students on site! Here are our interviews with student filmmakers and their film teacher from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. Find Justin Rodriguez’s film, Take 5, and Tillie’s film, This Town, on Vimeo.
Patricia Dye is one of the awe-inspiring educators featured in the film PS Dance!. As we learned in this interview, she teaches a wide range of techniques to high school students at Science Skills High School for Science, Technology and the Creative Arts in Brooklyn. You can learn more about Patricia and the other educators in the film at http://psdancenyc.com/dance-educators/.
PS Dance! is a New York Emmy nominated documentary about dance education in New York City public schools that has now spawned a movement to expand dance education. We found that audience members felt very strongly about this film, and it was a thrill to get such a rush of enthusiastic feedback – about the film itself as well as the need for dance education.
We kicked off our day at the Dance on Camera Festival with Nel Shelby, Director and Producer of PS Dance!, a documentary about dance education in New York City public schools that has now spawned a movement to expand dance education. Nel runs a thriving dance video production company, which she founded based on her background in broadcast and dance.
*Remember we were on site using mobile equipment, so the audio quality is less polished than usual – but stay tuned for a studio interview with Nel coming soon!
We were thrilled to speak with Pod de Deux’s first Broadway dancer in this episode with Dancer/Choreographer Bennyroyce Royon. Currently a cast member in the Broadway revival of The King and I, as well as Artistic Director of BENNYROYCE DANCE, Bennyroyce had plenty of insight to share about how the concert dance world compares to Broadway, the conversational process behind this larger-than-life Broadway production, and the balancing of identities as a busy dance maker. Don’t miss him in The King and I, and don’t miss the next BENNYROYCE DANCE performance on April 21st at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture.
In this episode with Ron Honsa, Filmmaker and Executive Director of Moving Pictures, we continue coverage of the Dance on Camera Festival (DOCF), leading up to PDD’s “takeover” on Saturday, February 13th! Ron Honsa’s documentary about Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers, The Men Who Danced, will be honored this year at DOCF, 30 years after its initial release. Jessica sat down with Ron and learned more about his historical and contextual approach to documentary filmmaking, as well as the importance of Jacob’s Pillow, Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis, and the Denishawn Dance Company to the development of American modern dance. Ron also revealed how he learned to film dance through a chance encounter with Alwin Nikolais and shared advice for dance filmmakers. The Men Who Danced will screen on Sunday, 2/14 followed by a moderated discussion with Norton Owen and Ron Honsa. The festival runs February 12th – 16th; tickets are still available here!
In conversation with Brighid, we learned how DFA selects films for this longstanding festival in partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and how Brighid herself defines dance film. We were encouraged to hear that the dedication and vision of the filmmakers is distinctly important to festival programmers, and we were fascinated by Brighid’s interpretation of dance film as “visual physicality.” We also learned about 2016 festival programming and discussed Brighid’s experience as a performer in Then She Fell, the critically acclaimed immersive dance theater production.
Find Jessica and Clara conducting on-site interviews at DOCF on February 13th!
In this episode we found ourselves traversing a wide range of dance territory with the accomplished Costume Designer and Dancer, Reid Bartelme. We spent the majority of the hour exploring Reid’s process of finding his footing as a latecomer in the ballet world, where he nonetheless achieved early success dancing with some of North America’s top companies. We eventually got into costuming talk and speculated about dance in the world more broadly, questioning where responsibility lies for developing cross-genre understanding. In this episode you’ll get a lively look inside company life and a dancer’s mind!
In this episode we speak with dancer and choreographer Loni Landon about her process of creating lush, captivating movement and the influence of her early career in Germany on her collaborative choreographic process. Importantly, Loni illuminated the difficulty of cultivating an artistic life that pays the rent, even as a dance artist who is widely regarded as enjoying early success and potential. We felt inspired by her proactive approach to changing the dance world for the better as we learned about her enthusiasm for pursuing collaborative projects and dance-based experiences with other artists, as well as her founding of The Playground, a financially accommodating space for dancers and choreographers to come together and explore (www.theplaygroundnyc.org). Don’t miss Loni’s choreography with Keigwin & Co at the Joyce, Dec. 8th, 10th and 12th: http://www.keigwinandcompany.com/event/kc-returns-to-the-joyce-theater/
Heidi Latsky joined us for Episode 13 and brought along a special guest in the form of her dancer, assistant and all-around “muse,” Jerron Herman! We were fascinated to learn about Heidi’s company, HLD, and her work with dancers who have disabilities and non-traditional dance bodies. We discussed how both Heidi and Jerron discovered dance as adults, the creation of Heidi’s “GIMP Project” and the unique artistic virtuosity that Heidi seeks in all of her performers. Be sure to see HLD perform on November 15th at 7pm at NYU’s Skirball Center, and attend the pre-show exhibit as well as the post-show Q&A. You can purchase tickets at http://nyuskirball.org/calendar/axislatsky and learn more about the company at http://heidilatskydance.com/!
“Dancing is fun!” Sometimes we all need the reminder, and this episode couldn’t have been a better one. Finally back in Btoven Studio, with dancer, choreographer and marketing professional Jamie Benson, we had some of the most fun yet as we dug deep into topics that ranged from the social purpose of laughter and the paradox of choice to Jamie’s rediscovery of the joy of dancing. We learned how Jamie incorporates humor into his choreography, works with adult non-dancers in his Shakedown Dance Collective and pursues the ultimate Bradjelina Life. He even provided valuable marketing advice for dancemakers! To learn more, visit our guests page and jamiebenson.com.
In Episode 11, Clara catches up with Uri Sands, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Minnesota-based TU Dance, while he is in New York for a TU performance in Central Park. They discuss Uri’s time at Alvin Ailey (and many other prestigious companies), his choreographic process, and the mission of community empowerment engendered in TU Dance as a company and a school. Learn more about Uri on our Guests page and more about TU at tudance.org.
We made it to episode 10 and what a year it has been! In this episode, we talk to dancer/choreographer/sound designer/DJ Jeremy Nedd about dancing in New York City for dance luminary Kyle Abraham and his experience in Europe as a dancer, choreographer and sound designer. We chatted and wondered about dance snobbery, audience engagement, and intellectual and conceptual dance traditions. Our favorite quote from Jeremy: “Ballet is a feeling.” We could not agree more. Jeremy Nedd studied at SUNY Purchase and danced in New York City before relocating to Europe to dance with the Dresden SemperOper and the Basel Ballett. He has had the opportunity to perform works by Forsythe, Kylian, Thoss, Ekman and others.
Brock Labrenz of An Films is a New York-based director who harnesses his extensive background in performance to create deliberate and sensual audio-visual experiences. His creative endeavors find him somewhere between the exactitude of modern cinema and the ephemeral transition of the body through space.
In this episode, Brock shared his experiences training as a dancer at Juilliard and dancing for William Forsythe–in particular, Forsythe’s creative process. We learned what it was like investigating Forsythe’s concept of choreographic objects in Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time and how audiences engaged with this work. Brock also revealed how his interests in dance and film developed over time and how both mediums support his current work.
We had an intriguing discussion about the role of the choreographer in developing audience values and the importance in creating a conversation with the audience around a concept or process. We also discussed how work conditions in the US and Europe have varying effects on the creative process and performance experience.
In our eighth episode, we discuss dance and technology with Dr. Kate Sicchio—a choreographer, media artist and performer whose pioneering work explores the interface between choreography and technology. Kate talks about how she initially became interested in investigating real-time video systems and the use of space in choreography, and her experience devising inventive ways for technology and choreography to interact in performance. We also discover Kate’s great interest in developing code to hack choreography and exploring various ways to hack the body–an innovative concept you can learn more about in this episode and by visiting www.hackingthebody.wordpress.com.
In this episode we chat with triple threat Writer/Director/Choreographer Wendy Seyb about her experience bringing comedy to movement in dance, theater and film. Wendy tells us about finding her niche in comedy, choreographing The Pee Wee Herman Show for Broadway and watching the dance world evolve over time. As usual we uncover some fun tidbits along the way – like Wendy’s role as Sebastian the Crab on the Disney stage!
Ask La Cour Rasmussen is a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, a native of Denmark and a creative explorer in his own right. We were thrilled to have the chance to speak with Ask about his time with the Royal Danish Ballet, the Bournonville technique for which Denmark is known and his lifestyle as a professional ballet dancer at some of the world’s premiere companies. In the process we learn that Ask is not only a workout enthusiast to put any gym-goer to shame but, like, totally not a bun head. Who knew? Learn more about Ask, Balanchine, NYCB and bun heads – all in this episode!
Diana Pettersen is a New York City-based choreographer and the Artistic Director of a company she founded, Sans Limites Dance. Diana also works as a Teaching Artist for the non-profit Dancing Classrooms New York City.
In this episode we discuss Diana’s exploratory choreography, her experience starting a dance company, and her endeavors to build community not only within the dance world but by bringing dance to the city at large. We also imagine what the world would look like if dance were Olympic sport (can we say Nike pointe shoe?) and get roped into Diana’s #100daysofimprov video after the recording (hint: Facebook).
In our fourth episode of Pod de Deux podcast, we have a friendly chat with William Cannon, a professional contemporary dancer. He talks about his recent transition to freelance work in NYC, emerging trends in contemporary ballet, recent projects with The Metropolitan Opera and Twyla Tharp, and fond experiences working with contemporary choreographers like Christian Spuck, Cayetano Soto, and Nicolo Fonte. We also shared views on dance reviewers, dance on television, and interesting work being presented in NYC.
We speak to Ben Richards in our third episode of Pod de Deux Podcast. Ben is a freelance video artist, dancer and choreographer who lives in New York City and spent three years in Montreal. We initially met Ben at Jacob’s Pillow dance festival, where he has worked on the video team for the last five summers. In addition to freelance video work in NYC–now Ben’s primary focus–he is the videographer and live stream manager for the New York Public Library’s Live from the NYPL initiative.
We sat down with Ben early in the new year to discuss how he got into various dance-related endeavors, life at Jacob’s Pillow, and how the camera can bring life to dance.
In our second episode of Pod de Deux podcast, we talk to Naomi Luppescu–a dance costume designer and founder of NaLu Designs. She talks about her career in NYC, her approach to meeting the functional and aesthetic needs of the choreography, where she draws inspiration, and current trends. Her costumes can be seen in Ailey II’s New York Season at the Joyce Theater (from March 17th through the 22nd) in two pieces by choreographers Kate Skarpetowska and Manuel Vignoulle. Read more about Naomi on our Guests page.
In our first episode of Pod de Deux podcast, we talk to Traci Finch–a classically trained freelance dancer in New York City. She talks about her career, whether college prepares young dancers for the realities of dancing professionally, sewing pointe shoes on the subway, and the Nutcracker. Read more about her on our Guests page. We are beyond excited to present our first podcast episode! More episodes will be posted bi-weekly.