Pod de Deux podcast episodes

2019 BESSIE NOMINEE: Leslie Cuyjet

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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.

2019 BESSIE NOMINEE: Ni’Ja Whitson

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Pod de Deux interviewed Ni’Ja Whitson as 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.

2019 BESSIE NOMINEE: Shamar Watt

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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!

2019 BESSIE NOMINEE: Molly Poerstel

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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

2019 BESSIE NOMINEE: Caleb Teicher

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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.

WE WERE MAKING A LOT OF NOISE: John Kelly

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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…)

THE STAKES ARE HIGH: Jenn Freeman

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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…)