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.
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.