Pod de Deux podcast episodes

WOMEN OF BROADWAY: KELLY DEVINE

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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 a poignant 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.

Read more reporting about the unprecedented year for female choreographers in Michael Mahany’s blog post, “Broadway’s Remarkable Year For Women On Broadway.”

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.

Women of Broadway: Lorin Latarro

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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.

WE’RE DRIVEN BY EMOTIONAL CONTENT: Kyla Barkin & Aaron Selissen

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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.

PLEASE LOVE WHAT YOU DO: Richy Jackson

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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).

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I DID IT AND I ANALYZED IT LATER: Gabri Christa

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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

You can see the film Gabri made with Kyle Abraham, QUARANTINE, on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/42853661

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). 

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN: Megan Williams

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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.

ALL DANCE HAS A MESSAGE: Sean Dorsey

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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.