Just a moment of self promotion: Morphoses opened Bacchae last night at the Joyce to a very important and enthusiastic audience. The wonderful dancers presented on this blog and I would love to share this show with as many people as possible. It is important not only as a re-imagining of a classic greek myth, but also as a remaking of a dance company's model. Lourdes Lopez, artistic director, and Luca Veggetti, resident choreographer, have created a spellbinding show! More information below!
Yusha Marie-Sorzano is originally from Trinidad, she received her primary instruction from New World School of the Arts, The Miami Conservatory, and The Dance Theater of Harlem. She attended the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program and in her junior year was invited to join Ailey II. She has been a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and TU Dance under the direction of Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands. Ms. Sorzano has performed works by Ulysses Dove, Mauro Bigonzetti and Ron K Brown as well as with recording artists Wynton Marsalis, Beyonce Knowles, and Rihanna. She was a guest artist on Dancing with the Stars and has most recently starred as the lead dancer in the independent film "You Me and The Circus". When not performing Ms. Sorzano enjoys teaching both nationally and internationally.
did you first begin dancing?
oI started dancing soon after moving to the states from
Trinidad at about 9. I am a product of the public school magnet program
and took my first ballet class in a tiny studio attached to the cafeteria. It
wasn’t very pretty and smelt like tater tots.
style of dance do you prefer and why?
oI can’t really answer that question. Each style offers something unique.
However, I will not deny that at the end of the day there is nothing like an
old school jazz combination…..pure satisfaction!
have you worked with in the past?
oAs far as concert dance I have danced with Ailey II, Complexions, The
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Morphoses. In addition, I have
done some work commercial work with Beyonce, Rihanna, and was a guest artist on
Dancing with the Stars. My career has been a pretty mixed bag. It keeps me on
do you aspire to work with in the future?
oNot sure at present. As long as it inspires me I am on board.
a freelance dancer, how do you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs or
skills you utilize for income?
oI teach modern and contemporary classes as often as possible. It’s
pretty awesome to be on the other side of the room. I tend to pick up new ways of
approaching the art form when I have to use my words to explain it. It’s also
really inspiring when someone gets “it” for the first time.
Have you attended college or another kind of training?
oI am an alum of The Ailey/Fordham BFA Program.
is the most challenging thing about your career?
oStaying in shape during the in between.
do you feel and think when you’re on stage?
oSee Billy Elliot’s response in the film, Billy Elliot,
when asked what he feels when he dances. I think that sums it up!
do you keep yourself motivated and maintain creative thinking during your off
oI find that I maintain motivation through unpredictability. I try
not to plan too much or get stuck in a routine. Don’t get me wrong; routine is
what makes a dancer. I just find it thrilling to not know where I may end up at
is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?
oEveryone’s body is different. You have to do what works for you. I like
to apply this statement to my career as well
element, theme, or character from the Bacchae do you relate to most?
oNot sure, though I am continually challenged by Agave.
is the best/funniest/most challenging experience of the rehearsal process thus
oThe best: New faces, sensibilities, and artistry
oThe funniest: That’s a tough one…it changes daily.
oThe most challenging: Staying true to the work while still learning the
vocabulary. It takes a second to understand how a choreographer works. What
their likes and dislikes are. I find it challenging to balance what is asked of
me with what I want to say as an artist. We are the vessel for Luca’s language.
So it’s important to be clear about what we are trying to convey.
Christopher Bordenave, a native of Los Angeles, CA, began his early dance training under master teachers Lula Washington, Karen McDonald, and Debbie Allen. He has studied and received training on scholarship with American Ballet Theatre, the Ailey School, Springboard Dans Montreal, and the Dance Theater of Harlem. Christopher has danced and performed works by Nacho Duato, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Zhukov Dance Theater, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. He also holds a BFA from the Alonzo King LINES Ballet/Dominican University BFA program as a member of the Inaugural Class.
To see Chris live, go to Morphoses performance of the Bacchae at the Joyce- October 24-30th, 2011. Or to see Chris in 2-d go here.
What style of dance do you prefer
I am a child of contemporary
dance. Everything happening
tomorrow or the next day is where I find myself.
Who have you worked with in the
I have worked with Desmond
Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, Nacho Duato, Alonzo King, and Yuri Zhukov both as
student and professionally.
Who do you aspire to work with in
Being a freelance dancer, how do
you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs or skills you utilize for
I have been blessed to maintain myself solely as a dancer.
Have you attended college or another kind of training?
Upon graduating from high school in 2006, I attended SUNY Purchase for a
semester. I transferred to The Ailey School's Fellowship Program for a year
while taking online classes through a community college, and then graduated
from LINES Ballet/Dominican University in 2010 with a BFA in dance.
What is the most challenging thing about your career?
What do you feel and think when you’re on stage?
Every emotion all at once continuously until I'm in the dressing room.
What is the most valuable advice you have received
from a teacher or mentor?
To readers, I am honored to have been found by an editor at Harper Collins to review Jock Soto's new book. You will see my official review below, but the unofficial review is that I would love to meet this man. He presents himself so positively and in service of the art form. It is truly a must read.
Jock Soto with
New York: Harper
271 pp, $24.99
Review by Brittany Fridenstine-Keefe
memoir, written with Leslie Marshall, comes out today. Entitled, "Every
Step You Take," the book is a charming homage to an inspiring male dancer
who dedicated more than two decades dancing at the New York City Ballet.
Jock Soto is
part Navajo Indian, and part Puerto Rican. His first encounter to dance was in
the form of Indian Hoop dances. After seeing Edward Villella on the Ed Sullivan
show, Mr. Soto was determined to learn more about formal western dance genres.
His family is an inspiration in the sacrifices and support they offered to
enable his study of dance. Mr. Soto’s pursuit of training led him to the School
of American Ballet, New York City Ballet's official school, and a separation
from his parents at a young age.
Much of the book
is Jock's tribute to his deceased mother. Perhaps this is the meaning behind
the title. Perhaps he still feels a connection to her as he serves dance. His
family was a part of his dance despite distance. Although positive in his
reflections, his separation from his roots is an underlying theme. Simultaneously,
he acknowledges his need for space and a connection to who he is.
recounts growing up in the gay community in the 80s. Mr. Soto reflects on his
growth as an individual through each of the relationships; doubly as he
witnessed the AIDS epidemic tearing apart his community. Working hard and
playing hard, Mr. Soto ran in the circles of many prominent art figures,
including a close relationship with Andy Warhol.
career was an embodiment of the American dream; he was quickly and easily
promoted to a leading dancer at NYCB. He shares his is appreciation of his many
ballerinas including: Lourdes Lopez, Heather Watts, Wendy Whelan, Stephanie
Saland, and Miranda Weese. As he recounts these relationships, he shares
numerous human moments from behind the scenes. Mr. Soto worked in a magical
time when the work of George Balanchine, Lincoln Kirstein, and Jerome Robbins
was well established and inspired. The New York dance scene was supportive and
at the nexus of the form.
book, Jock presents himself humbly. When People
magazine voted him one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the
World", he shrugged it off stating his merit was merely to fill a
performing arts quota. But he doesn't take himself lightly; he remains focused
on his mission as a dancer. Mr. Soto recounts the fleeting moments of a life
onstage and the struggle to keep each performance alive. Before each
performance, Mr. Soto would say, "it is going to be a different story
tonight." Therein lies his dedication to "every little step" he
book Mr. Soto shares recipes, which correlate to his growth. He keeps his
aplomb as he comically recalls using Gorgonzola in a tiramisu, but clearly
cooking has become a new creative passion. A vehicle to meld his creativity
with entertainment and invest in the people he cares about. He continues to
service the field as a teacher at the School of American Ballet.
Jock Soto is an
important male figure in the ballet world. As such his memoir, "Every Step
You Take," is a refreshing and inspiring account for any artist living
Brandon Cournay is originally from Detroit, Michigan. He has danced with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Kegwin + Company Extended. Brandon has performed the repertoire of Twyla Tharp, Ohad Naharin, Lar Lubovich, and Nacho Duato. Brandon has also performed in theRadio City Christmas Spectacularand has appeared in commercials for Puma and Target. Brandon received his BFA from The Juilliard School.
You can see him in action at the Joyce Oct 24-30th in Morphoses production of Bacchae.
I have been chassé ball changing since I was ten years old. I signed up to do a musical theatre camp at my school and after that, I was hooked. I became obsessed with my teacher's Capezio jazz sneakers... So, I talked my parents into getting me a pair. You better believe I wore them to school, no shame.
What style of dance do you prefer and why?
I prefer anything that is physical, organic, and inspiring.
Who have you worked with in the past?
I am having this really cool journey performing in both commercial and concert dance. Professionally, I've worked with the Chase Bock Experience, Mark Morris Dance Group and I'm currently dancing with Keigwin + Company.
While in school, I had the honor of working on creations with Matthew Neenan, Nicolo Fonte, and Larry Keigwin. When we would learn pieces for our repertoire concert choreographers such as, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovich, and Ohad Naharin all came in to help set and coach their pieces that we were performing. It was such an amazing experience to learn and work with the creators of such brilliant works.
Who do you aspire to work with in the future?
I'm really inspired my choreographers such as Aszure Barton, Crystal Pite, Peter Chu, Hofesh Shechter.
I want to work with anyone that is really pushing the envelope in dance. I'm really interested in working with anyone who is creating something inventive, imaginative, and accessible.
Being a freelance dancer, how do you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs or skills you utilize for income?
Teaching and choreographing are what I consider my ‘side jobs.’ I really enjoy it though, so I rarely consider it work. Which is cool. I also judge for dance competitions on the weekends.
Have you attended college or another kind of training? What/where?
I received my BFA from Juilliard in 2009.
What is the most challenging thing about your career?
I'd have to say the most challenging aspect of my career is living a balanced lifestyle... in sort of a "work hard/play hard" kind of way. As artists we are constantly on, constantly learning and exploring; sometimes whether we like it or not. Specifically for freelancers self-motivation is vital, our schedule and intentions change daily. It's easy to cram your self- planned day with tons of classes, auditions, and rehearsals to benefit your work and not take anytime for yourself... And vice-versa. It took me a long time to learn that taking a little time for yourself can benefit your work inside the studio tremendously.
It took me a long time to learn that guilty feeling of skipping your 10am ballet class to go see the new Twilight movie will soon go away. I stress the time in this scenario because we all know that movie tickets are only $6.00 if you go before noon. Paying for a full priced movie ticket as a freelancer in New York emphasizes the obvious and biggest challenge that plagues us all... Finances.
What do you feel and think when you’re on stage?
On stage, I try to sensitize my whole body as much as possible. I like to pretend I'm performing in a theatre that's 360 degrees around and that the audience is seeing me at every possible angle. Even if the choreography has a specific direction, to me there is no front. I want to know and feel what my leg bones, arm muscles, ribs, fingers, eyes...etc. are doing at all times, wherever they are in space. When I bring awareness to my whole body I feel I am able to communicate better as an artist. It's no longer about executing steps physically, but about how I am using my instrument, my entire body to embody and enhance the artistry of the work.
How do you keep yourself motivated and maintain creative thinking during your off time?
I like to see a lot of dance. I think it's important to educate yourself on what you like and what you don't... and more importantly, WHY you like or don't like something.
I also listen to music a ton, the little dancer in my head is constantly improving to something up there.
What is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?
Risa Steinberg, one of my mentors at Juilliard, was talking about evaluating feedback about your work. She said that if someone loves your work... awesome, if someone absolutely hates your work... awesome, but the problem comes when someone leaves the theatre without having an opinion of your work. I thought that was a very interesting statement.
What element, theme, or character from the Bacchae do you relate to most?
I relate most to the ever evolving pace and flow of the Bacchae. As well as the inspiration of the work, always looking forward to try something new.
What is the best/funniest/most challenging experience of the rehearsal process thus far?
Best- Creating with such amazingly talented, diverse, and inspiring artists everyday. It’s been an honor to work and learn from such an eclectic group of dancers.
Funniest- Karaoke night!
Most challenging- Scooting up the stairs. At the Vineyard my thighs were so sore, I could barely walk!
Gabrielle Lamb Gabrielle Lamb is a native of Savannah, Georgia, and was trained at the Boston Ballet School. She joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal in 2000 and was promoted to soloist in 2003. Since 2009, she has been living in New York City and performing with Morphoses and Pontus Lidberg Dance. Her repertoire includes principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Peter Quanz, Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, and Nacho Duato. She has also created leading roles in new works by Shen Wei, Stijn Celis, Pontus Lidberg, and Mauro Bigonzetti, among others.
Ms. Lamb is also a choreographer as well a self-taught video artist and animator. You can see some of her videos here.