What Moves You @ Stacia Sleight

A major idea behind the “What Moves You?” project is to connect movement-professionals and fans from around the world. It showcases a common love and is a verbal documentation of what is known when we physically move – that dance transcends AND celebrates culture, gender, race, age, body-type, and more. I reached out to my friend Stacia to be a part of the blog this week because she’s making similar efforts by working simultaneously with dancers in different cities through her Remote Dance Project. And on top of that awesomeness, she’s just an artist you don’t take your eyes off of because of her infectious creativity, genuine beauty, and undeniable talent. Check out her project and read her response to “WMY?” below!

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Stacia Sleight
Choreographer / Teacher

What Moves You?
“Taking a deep look at ‘what moves me’ led me to a series of reflective questions: Is it my surroundings? Lending a helping hand? Hoping to inspire a young soul? From the first memory of my mom strapping my 2 year old self into the smallest, shiniest ballet slippers, I knew I wanted to be a dancer. Yet, it wasn’t until my overly cliché ‘quarter life crisis’ that I knew I needed to be. See for me, what moved me wasn’t found in the tangible. The fire within me only found it’s brightest glow after seeing the coals turn grey. I spent so much time waiting for others to deem me ‘good enough’ to take me along for their ride when in reality, I just didn’t have the balls to make it happen for myself. What moves me is the energy I am finding more and more everyday to create my own opportunities. My fire burns to forge a creative path for myself and other passionate souls who share the common goals of performing, collaborating and pushing the boundaries of movement. Although sometimes it might feel like you’re taking one step forward only to get pushed two steps back, know that if your intention is focused and your commitment is strong, your path will emerge. And if you’re anything like me, you don’t just want to find your path, you need to.”

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A proud New York native now living in Center City Philadelphia, Stacia Sleight holds a BFA in Dance from SUNY Brockport. Stacia’s current passion project is the Remote Dance Project, a multi-city dance collaborative that unites dancers from across the Northeast each month to explore movement and how it might translate in film vs. traditional performance spaces. Currently creating a full length, multi-media work to debut in 2017, Sleight actively sets movement on a wealth of 7 deep rooted, athletic female dancers using inspiration from each individuals deepest, darkest experiences. Sleight has developed several technique and improvisational class styles to target a range of artists from beginners to advanced movers. While teaching weekly Modern Dance Technique, Stacia’s movement style focuses strongly on release technique and spatial ownership with great influence from her teachers and mentors during her years studying at SUNY Brockport. Alongside teaching and choreographing, Stacia has performed and worked hand in hand with modern dance companies across the region including Dianne McIntyre, Monica Bill Barnes, Kegwin & Company, John Jasperse, Treeline Dance Works and the Brockport Dance Faculty.

Check out Stacia here and follow her on Instagram here!

Photo Credit @ Melissa Engle Photography (stairs) and Oh Boy Artists (b&w)

What Moves You? @ Michele Wilson

Now that Michele is in my life, I literally don’t know what I would do without her! She is one the most charismatic, fierce, funny, strong, determined, honest, cheeky, creative….I could go on and on…women I know. We danced during and after college together for a company called Jostle, and now that I get to spend more time with her as a member of SoHa, I fully understood how incredible she is. Her heart shines through her dancing and her smile lights up a room. I’m very lucky she is a part of the company and in my life. Let’s see what moves her!

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Michele Wilson
Dancer and Administrator

What Moves You?
It moves me to see music, emotion, feeling, meaning, and inspiration coming to life.  Movement is the conduit through which all of this flows from one person to the next.  Sending and receiving messages viscerally, no words needed.  I’m always moved.

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Michele Wilson grew up dancing at several local dance studios in her hometown of Elmira, NY. Michele then went on to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from the State University of New York, College at Brockport. During her years at Brockport and since, she has studied with artists including Wally Wolfgruber, David Dorfman, Bill Evans, Jacquie Davis, Jenn Nugent, and James Hansen. After graduation, she headed to New York City where she works and plays as a dancer and arts administrator. Deeply rooted in the NYC dance world, Michele has held positions at Gallim Dance, the American Dance Festival, Youth America Grand Prix, and Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People, as well as Gibney Dance where she currently works as the Director of Strategic Partnerships. Michele produced and performed in the SUNY Brockport AlumniDance Showcase for four years.  She also served on the Junior Committee of Dance/NYC for two years, and is now a member of their Advisory Board. Michele has performed extensively in NYC and across the country with choreographers including Missy Pfohl Smith, Marisa Ballaro, Jocelyn McIntosh, Stacy Pottinger, and Jenny Showalter, as well as in the half-time show of the Pro-Bowl in Honolulu.

Check out some of the companies she’s involved with here and here!

Photo Credits @ Scott Shaw

What Moves You? @ Grant McDaniel

There are some people you meet that will change your life, whether they know it or not. Grant is one of those people for me. I took a “year off” after high-school to enroll in a dance program in Vienna, Austria called Spiral(e). Grant was my mentor that year and still is in many ways. Grant taught me to dance from the inside-out…to dance from the core of who I am and to tell stories with my body. I’m forever grateful to him. He’s an incredible teacher for movers and non-movers because he triggers your self-awaereness and helps you realize what you have to offer as a person, and THEN as an artist. Which is the whole point of art and dance, right? To tell stories about who we are, individually and as a human race. So let’s see what’s moving Grant…

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Grant McDaniel
Teacher, Coach, and Writer

What Moves You?
“It moves me to see people come into their bodies for any reason at any age. It moves me to see people discover dance at any age for what ever reason. It moves me to inspire people to believe, be excited and aspire.”

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From Grant:

“I began dance training at the late age 22/23 in 1971. Literally everyone told me I was wasting my time and would never work professionally as a serious dancer. Fortunately that first training was in one of the top schools in the USA: The Dayton Ballet Company school Director Josephine Schwartz. Three years later I moved to Toronto, Canada to study with Toronto Dance Theatre on a full scholarship. What followed was 13 years of wonderful and exciting work with Dance Makers, Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers and many free lance projects.

From Canada I moved to Italy and dropped out of the dance scene for a year or two (actually I did the same in Canada a couple of times ) and dropped back in as a teacher and choreographer and director of Grant McDaniel and Dancers. A move to Trieste resulted in The Space, (in the former psychiatric hospital San Giovani – a place that revolutionized and radicalized the work with psychiatric “utenti”) and where a generation of dancers were born and grew and developed and trained. Palermo next and another new group of serious contemporary dancers.

An experience performing in Vienna gave me the contacts to make a move to Vienna possible in 1996. My first job was teaching movement in the Rhythmics department of the University of Vienna, then the Max Rheinhardt Seminar. In 1999 I founded and directed Spiral(e), a 3 year Contemporary Dance / Theatre education.

Having been told at the beginning of my dance life that I was “too old” I made it a point to never say that to anyone coming into my studios or schools. What I did was find a way to train a mature body that produced a serious professional performance technique. Gradually I found myself training people who wanted to work in a healthy and strong way with their bodies but who were not necessarily interested in dance or theatre. Out of this came my method Body Connections. I am now collaborating with Edi Gustini , one of my former students in Trieste, to formalize and publish these concepts under the title “The Neutral Frequency of Movement”.

At almost 70 I am still performing and exploring new ways of  training and working with the body.

Check out more here or reach out via email at grantmcdaniel@vienna.at.

 

What Moves You? @ Leah Tubbs

Three years ago I presented and curated my very first show, “A Modern Tribute”. There were a lot of challenges but I worked hard and ended up with an incredibly talented group of artists – and they helped create two sold out shows! Luckily I’ve been able to work with several of them again, and one of those wonderful connections happened with Leah. We also bonded because we both have roots in and love Harlem; and each of our companies are doing work to promote underserved and/or emerging artists through dance. Plus, she’s dedicated and passionate about community work, and a rockstar for dance advocacy and female empowerment. So…she’s pretty awesome. I’m a huge supporter of her company’s mission and just her in general. Right now her company is currently producing a show to celebrate female choreographers of color. If you’re interested in submitting work or supporting the show, check it out here. And on top of that, Leah and I are presenting work together in August – so stayed tuned for more info! For now though, let’s see what moves Leah…

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Leah Tubbs
Dancer, Arts Educator, Choreographer, Artistic Director

What Moves You?
The mission of my dance company, ModArts Dance Collective (MADC), moves me! MADC provides a platform for female choreographers of color to hone and celebrate their artistic voices in an open, engaging environment surrounded by like-minded people, as well as build a safe, sustainable community of artists from different genres to challenge, motivate, and inspire each other. I hope to be a vehicle of positive change while serving the community of Harlem and other under exposed cities…”Be the change that you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

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Leah Tubbs, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, studied dance at Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) and the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. She has been blessed to dance with Dayton Contemporary Dance Second Company (DCdC2), Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre (CCDT), Lula Washington Dance Theater, Project 21 Dance, L.A. Choreographers and Dancers, Donna Sternberg and Dancers, Jazz Ballet Company, Ballet Afrique, The Zifadanz Group, and Jazz Ain’t Dead. ModArts Dance Collective (MADC) was established in 2011 by Leah Tubbs to celebrate female choreographers of color while building a safe, sustainable community of artists in Harlem, as well as other underexposed cities.

Check out her website here, and see some video footage here!

What Moves You? @ Nancy Paris

Being in a field where it’s hard to make a living, and living in a city where it’s difficult to “make it”, I am so happy to have recently met Nancy, our featured artist this week! She’s a native New Yorker but has been able to travel the world as a dancer and choreographer. I was immediately impressed by her background, experience, and knowledge about the history and community of dance. She’s a force to be reckoned with, having had a solid and dynamic career, and I admire her passion for story-telling and dedication to dance. With all this knowledge, I had to ask her to join the WMY? project!

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Nancy Paris: Dancer & Choreographer
New York, NY

What Moves You?
Anyone exhibiting kindness towards others. Music – I need it to function. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and peanuts. Wine, preferably red – but whatever you have open.
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Nancy’s extensive dance background includes training at The Juilliard School, American Ballet Theater, and The Martha Graham School.  She was a leading performer in Canada’s Contemporary Dancers and the Rod Rodgers Dance Company in New York, and was featured in production shows at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Cafe Versailles in NYC. Nancy has performed and taught internationally, was a guest artist of the Mexican government for an International Modern Dance Festival in Mexico City, and has taught at leading dance academies in New York City, Stockholm, Osaka, Toronto, and Montreal. In 1992, Nancy began her work as a choreographer, creating shows for Harrah’s Atlantic City, The Mirage Las Vegas, and industrial shows for Pepsi International, Maybelline, Estee Lauder, Diageo, and GE. In 2011, Nancy and her husband, filmmaker Charles Yurick, created and toured They Called It Rock – a show featuring a mash up of Latin ballroom, jazz, contemporary dance, and Classic Rock music. They are currently developing two projects: Radio 930 a Broadway-style book musical, and dance show 33⅓ – Legendary Music In Motion. Other projects together include the film documentary Never Stand Still – Dancing at Jacob’s Pillow and the 2011 US Tennis Opening Night Ceremony televised on ESPN.

Check out more about her latest show here.
Far left photo credits @ Lois Greenfield.

What Moves You? @ Catherine Roth

One of the major reasons I became so deeply involved in dance is because of how much I believe in its community role. The way movement can transform and build a community, in all senses and ways (small or large), is continuously inspiring. And that’s why I am so thrilled to feature Catherine this week – because we’ve both remained dedicated to making dance accessible for everyone. We have known each other basically our whole lives, since we grew up in St. Croix together, and it makes me smile every time I think about the path she’s created for herself within the dance world. She became a rock-star ballerina growing up (I was always jealous because I dropped out of our ballet class in first grade…oops) but has continued to be true to herself… she’s an incredible performer, arts-advocate, friend, and all-around amazing person. Let’s see what moves her!

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Catherine Roth: Dancer and Co-Founder of Agora Dance
Washington D.C.

What moves you?

Collaboration and community continue to drive and inspire me.  When Agora Dance was created, I had the desire to serve the dance community.  There are incredibly talented, hard-working artists out there, and I felt like I could help facilitate exciting projects that will feed them artistically and hopefully financially.  But for dance to be effective, it needs to reach people- all people.  With Agora Dance, along with traditional venues, we’re trying to bring dance into un-traditional spaces, like parks and restaurants, to demonstrate what I already feel- that contemporary dance isn’t esoteric- it can connect to any community and that there’s value in watching it.

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Catherine grew up in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a small Caribbean island. She feels incredibly lucky to have had access to ballet training and two wonderful dance teachers, Heidi Wright and Sonja Dickerson-Faust. Catherine majored in Ballet Performance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where along with continuing to study ballet, she had my first serious experiences studying modern and jazz techniques. After graduating in 2010, she moved to NYC where she apprenticed with Brooklyn Ballet and participated in smaller choreographic projects. Catherine also spent time dancing, choreographing and teaching in St. Croix before moving to Maryland in 2012. In the DC Metro Area, Catherine has danced with Bowen McCauley Dance, Ballet ADI, and Moveius Contemporary Ballet.  In September 2015, she co-founded Agora Dance, DC & Philadelphia based contemporary dance company, with Olivia Sabee and Niko Sommaripa.

Check out her company here!

What Moves You? @ Natalie Connor

There aren’t enough words to describe the love I feel for our featured artist this week. She is one of my closest friends and has been my day one since I started considering dance as a profession. We have so many memories dancing, choreographing, and teaching together. Her love and skill with children’s dance education has been inspiring and heart-filling to watch over the years. We should all thank the universe that there teachers like her in this world. So all that said, let’s find out what moves Natalie!

 

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Natalie Connor: Dance Educator
New York, NY

What moves you?

Being able to help children discover how amazing and powerful dance can be as an outlet for self-expression. Also the children’s joy and sense of freedom when they dance never ceases to inspire me!

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Natalie is a dance educator and a first grade assistant teacher in Brooklyn. She grew up dancing, exploring various styles including jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and modern. Starting in high school, she gained a love of teaching dance to children and has experience teaching a range of ages from 3 years old to 13 years old. She currently teaches 4-5 year olds in an after school program, engaging them in dance/creative movement that fosters their coordination, agility, and creative expression.

What Moves You? @ Leah Fox

Whenever I saw Leah dance (whether in rehearsal, or in the street with her tap shoes pounding some wood), she brought a smile to every face. Leah is a dancer-creator-teacher-yoga inspiration-mom-awesome person. Her remarkable musicality makes her a rhythm queen, and her open heart is continuously genuine. Knowing her reassures me that no matter where life takes us, we’re always moving. So, what Moves Leah?

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Leah Fox: Teacher + Maker
NYC + Lancaster, PA

What moves you?

Dedicating time to play, to be creative, to make messes makes me feel whole and connected to myself. Teaching others (kids + adults) to express themselves though yoga, dance, or making art brings me joy.

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Leah is a mom, a yoga + movement teacher, and a maker. When her son was born, she transitioned from teaching dance full time in the NYC schools to making malas. She has always been interested in the spiritual side of things, and her necklaces are a physical representation of a practice that connects the wearer with something greater. They are made with 108 beads, and are traditionally used for meditation + prayer. She calls it her evolving collection : Charm & Magic, and each piece helps people tune into themselves and the true expression of who they are.

Read more about Leah here.

What Moves You? @ Britney Falcon

Britney is like a quiet storm. Her dedication to dance is rocksteady …and then she hits you with a crazy athletic move or a deeply personal moment out of nowhere. Or maybe it just seems that way because I have known Britney for over 10 years (whoa) and she’s constantly one of the most resolute women I know. Her ability to defend and stand up for creative expression in herself and in others is a true talent. So when you know a powerhouse like her you also want to know what makes them tick. She’s the perfect feature for this week too because she has some upcoming shows. Check out her response to our What Moves You? project and read more about her below!

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Britney Falcon: Artistic Director & Choreographer for Falcon Dance
New York, NY

What moves you?

The way the paint falls across a canvas, is the way I see movement and energy falling across an open space. When I construct a new dance, there is often a rhythm or sound I feel, which guides the shape of the work.

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Brit Falcon, from Rochester, NY, received a BFA in dance from The College at Brockport. While attending she was nominated by the dance department as the School of Arts and Performance Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award 2009. She also received the Friars Foundation and Rose L. Strasser Dance Awards, as well as a Merit Scholarship to the Bates Dance Festival. She has been given opportunities to perform work by artists such as William Evans, Larry Keigwin, Oliver Steele, Kista Tucker Dance, Inc., Treeline Dance Works, TrioDance Collective, and Jen Kosky Dance Theater. Her choreography has been shown throughout Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New York, and in venues such as 92nd St. Y, Dixon Place, Triskelions Arts, BAX/ Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Green Space, Rochester Fringe Festival, Alchemical Theatre Laboratory, and The Center for Performance Research. Britney is currently apprenticing with David Dorfman Dance, and working with mentor Taylor Hatcher at Taylor Hatcher Sports Therapy (taylorhatcher.com). She is the artistic director for Falcon Dance

Check her out at www.falcondance.com or go to one of her upcoming shows!

 

 

What Moves You @ Sophia Maier

I have a huge passion for photography. Before I realized how important dance was in my life, I was deeply involved in pursuing a career in photography. To document moments with people and places is a powerful way to tell stories and make statements. It even captures movement in a unique and untraditional way. While in Berlin, I was lucky enough to connect with Sophia, a photographer who has recently done work on a project supporting victims of the recent Nepal earthquake. I wanted to feature her this week because of her artistry in capturing movement and moments, and for her ability to give back to a community she cares about deeply. Let’s see what’s moving Sophia…

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Sophia Maier: Photographer/Journalist
Munich, Germany

What moves you?

My dog. Nepal. The world. Injustices in the world. Life. As well as death. Fear of death. Profound humans. Inspiring conversations. Searching and seeking for the truth. Understanding there is no truth. Realizing there is just hope. Living in hope. Love. Loving humans. Trying to love myself. Failing to love myself. Myself. Being myself. Hope again. Hope for a better future. A wonderful future.

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Sophia Maier was born in 1987 in Munich, Germany. She holds a Master’s degree in politics and philosophy. Her Master thesis is about the sense of life in Albert Camus’ existential philosophy. While she was a student she started her travels to various countries. Her first trip allowed her to work in an orphanage in Soweto, South Africa in 2012. Her next big trip, in 2014, was working in Nepal as a english teacher for buddihst monks and involved long travels in the Himalayas. After the big earthquake in April 2015 she visited the country twice to help the victims and during that time her project, “Faces of Nepal” emerged. The project shows photographs of people who have lost everything – their home, their family, their future. Proceeds from these photos go to charity. Check out her work here.