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.
John Kelly is a performance and visual artist, vocalist, and dancer whose multifaceted career spans more than three decades. His performance works are sometimes autobiographical or character-driven, and other times focus on the struggles encountered by artists and social outsiders, and the nature of creative genius. He has received 2 Obie Awards, 2 Bessie Awards, 2 NEA American Masterpieces Awards, and fellowships from The American Academy in Rome, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. John employs theatrical, visual, movement-based, and vocal means of expression in his works. He will be presenting a new work entitled “Underneath the Skin” at NYU Skirball October 11th & 12th.
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.
Jenn Freeman’s company Freemove Dance presents the comeback run of …it’s time… – a piece performed last year as part of 14th Street Y’s inaugural curated season. The evening-length production, co -presented by the Theater at the 14th Street Y, played to sold-out houses in 2018. Its main theme is the intricacies of human relationship to time; it is choreographed by Jenn Freeman, with an original score by renowned percussionist Dani Markham (Tune-Yards, Childish Gambino). The work will be presented September 19-22, 2019 at the venue’s theater, located at 344 East 14th Street (near First Avenue), New York, NY 10003. The tickets ($20 online; $25 at the door) can be purchased online at14streety.org/itstime.
Jenn Freeman (Choreographer) is the founder and the Artistic Director of Freemove Dance. Her appearances in the modern dance pieces by top contemporary choreographers include leads in the works by Sonya Tayeh and Kyle Abraham | Abraham.in.Motion.) She has worked as assistant and associate choreographer on major commercial productions for TV (including Fox’s The X-Factor US with Florence and The Machine and So You Think You Can Dance), theater (Iphigenia in Aulis at the Second Stage Company, dir. Rachel Chavkin and The Wild Party at the City Center, dir. Leigh Silverman), and concert tours (Madonna and Cirque du Soleil.) As a performer, she was featured in The MTV Video Music Awards, The Jimmy Fallon Show, Comedy Central’s The Comedy Awards, and in The Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary Tour. Freeman is an internationally recognized educator who has been teaching across the U.S. at Revive Dance Convention, The national Dance Honors, Contemporary Now, and Axis Connect. She has made work at New York’s Marymount Manhattan College; Wayne State University, MI; BYU, UT; UT Austin, TX. She also frequently appears as a guest/master teacher at Steps on Broadway in NYC. Visitwww.freemovedance.com to learn 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.
Originally from Argentina, Anabella Lenzu is a dancer, choreographer, writer and teacher with over 25 years experience working in Argentina, Chile, Italy, London and the USA. Lenzu directs her own company, Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama (ALDD), which since 2006 has presented 380 performances, created 14 choreographic works and performed at 100 venues, presenting thought provoking and historically conscious dance-theater in NYC.
Lenzu has written for various dance and arts magazines, and published her first book in 2013, entitled Unveiling Motion and Emotion. The book contains writings in Spanish and English on the importance of dance, community, choreography, and dance pedagogy. Her second book, Teaching Dance through Meaningful Gestures, is expected in 2020. The book explores how technique is a philosophy and a theory, and how the body is an instrument for expression.
Currently, Lenzu conducts classes at Peridance Capezio Center and NYU Gallatin, and is Artist-in-Residence at CUNY Dance Initiative, 2019-2020.
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.
Pooja Uberoi is the Producer for NYC Dance Week and founder of Funkar, an initiative that is part of NYC Dance Week. She has more than 13 Years of experience as a dancer and teacher in Jazz schools, the Bollywood industry in Mumbai, India and New York City. She was a Board member and Head of The Dance Works, one of the biggest dance schools of Western dance in India before moving to NYC. Pooja has performed her choreographies and taught at the prestigious CBS this morning, Dance USA Dance and in schools in India, New York City, California, Canada, Puerto Rico, Israel and Mexico. Pooja also owns a dance company in New York named IkIGAI – USA. She is also a consultant for a music school and runs an international artist management company called Artists East West.
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/!
Troy Ogilvie teaches Improv, choreographs, and performs dance and dance/theater. From 2013-2015, Troy performed as Lady Macbeth in Punchdrunk’s “Sleep No More.” She has danced for and collaborated with choreographers including Roy Assaf, Andrea Miller, Sidra Bell, Itzik Galili, Shannon Gillen, Zoe Scofield, Margie Gillis and many, many more. Troy has also curated, produced, and performed in two solo shows – ‘RESET’ in 2011 and ‘PRISM’ in 2017. In 2011 she was named one of “Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch.” Troy has taught and continues to teach and choreograph in countless venues and dance studios in NYC and New Jersey. She holds a BFA from Juilliard.
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 about the CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI):
CDI is an unprecedented model for collaboration between the City University of New York (CUNY) and the New York City dance field. A residency program that opens the doors of CUNY campuses to professional choreographers and dance companies, CDI supports local artists, enhances the cultural life and education of college students, and builds new dance audiences at CUNY performing arts centers.
Since its official launch in 2014, CDI has subsidized more than 100 residencies for emerging and established NYC choreographers on 13 CUNY campuses in all five boroughs. Created directly in response to the shortage of affordable rehearsal and theater space, CDI has granted over 5,800 hours of studio and stage time to artists, and attracted 11,500 New Yorkers to performances, open rehearsals, and workshops. CDI’s unique model, which pairs the resources of the City’s vast urban university system with private funding, now awards 22 to 25 artists a year with residency space and fees.
More about our guests:
Alyssa Alpine, Director of CDI
Alyssa Alpine is an arts producer, curator, and administrator with twenty years of experience in New York’s non-profit arts world. Since graduating from Columbia University, she’s held positions at organizations large and small, like Lincoln Center, New York Live Arts, and Mexico Now. She recently started New Jersey City University’s Center for the Arts, a new umbrella for the University’s arts programming. Now directing the CUNY Dance Initiative, she brings a deep personal commitment to the performing arts community as well as in-depth understanding of how it functions.
Gabrielle Lamb was born in Savannah, Georgia, and trained at the Boston Ballet School. In the year 2000, she joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, and in 2003 she was promoted to soloist. At the invitation of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, she moved to New York City in 2009 to join his company Morphoses. Ms. Lamb began choreographing in 2005 and has won many choreography awards since then, including a Princess Grace Award for Choreography in 2014. She was a CDI resident in both 2015 and 2016. Her movement style and theatricality have been profoundly influenced by the choreographers whose work she danced during her performing career, including George Balanchine, Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato, and Shen Wei. In addition, Ms. Lamb is a self-taught video artist and animator. Her choreography and dance films have been presented by many venues and festivals around the world.
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.