In this installment of PDD’s fall/spring series covering the Dance Now 25th anniversary season, Paul Hamilton speaks with Choreographer, Writer, Director, and two-time Bessie winner Jane Comfort, who is being honored on Thursday, December 3rd at 7:00pm during the festival’s evening celebration. This interview is a wide-ranging conversation in which Jane shares thoughts about her work, her long career, and motherhood. You can find more information about the celebration honoring Jane and purchase a $20 ticket here, or check out the full season and ticketing options at https://dancenow.online/! Find out more about Jane and her work at http://janecomfortandcompany.org/about-jane/.
JANE COMFORT is a choreographer, writer, and director whose 2018 40th Anniversary Retrospective at La MaMa won a Bessie Award for best revival. She was also given a lifetime achievement award by the American Dance Guild. Her work has long explored the intersection of movement and text, often mixing high and low arts to make social and political commentary. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two BESSIE Awards, a Doris Duke Award for New Work through ADF, and multiple artist fellowships from NEA, NYSCA, and NYFA. She also works in theater and opera, and choreographed the Broadway musicals Passion, by Stephen Sondheim, and Amour, by Michel Legrand.
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…)
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!
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.