New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

After the July 14th public performance of Victory Dance Program A, four members of the three companies took to the stage and answered questions from the audience. The three choreographers and one dancer were joined by New Victory Teaching Artist, Penelope McCourty, who facilitated the Talk-Back. The questions from the audience ranged from the artists' inspirations to how it feels to perform for young audiences. 

Most of the companies performing in Victory Dance don’t often have the chance to interact with young audiences, these dance professionals got feedback on their work that they never expected! Get to know the insights and stories behind behind Big Dance Theater, doug elkins choreography and the Advanced Beginner Group below.


Doug Elkins Choreography
Mark Gindick and company performing with doug elkins choreography, etc. Photo: Jamie Kraus
The Talk-Back panel included: 

Paul Lazar: Artistic Director and dancer from Big Dance Theater
Annie Parson: Artistic Director and choreographer of Big Dance Theater
Doug Elkins: Founder and choreographer of doug elkins choreography, etc.
David Neumann: Founder of the Advanced Beginner Group

What was the initial inspiration for these pieces?

David: I collaborated very closely with the writer Will Eno on the text. We were curious about helping an audience to connect to a puppet through dance. We wanted to comfort audiences if they felt a little lost or confused, since we’re all just people here, trying to get by. 

Annie: The first piece I choreographed that you just saw was inspired by a nocturne written by Stravinsky. The second piece was inspired by page 79 of Costume En Face, notations of work by Tatsumi Hijikata.

Paul, as a performer, how did you step into your inspiration space?

Paul: I didn’t bring my page 79 from Costume En Face to the stage with me, but there are a few examples I remember. One picture was "face flattened by fear," another was "peacock on fire." These are really vivid images. The thing about a picture is that it can suggest very strong movement even if it, itself, is still.  

Did you have a storyline in your head or did you leave it to the interpretation of the audience?

Doug: There are allusions towards stories, but you don’t have to explicitly follow them. The great thing about dance is that you can pay attention to the choreographer's stories or create your very own in your head!

For the last piece, were the dancers trained as puppeteers or puppeteers trained as dancers? What was the puppet made out of?

David: I would say they’re puppeteers trained as dancers, but to be a puppeteer you have to have a very good sense of movement. You have to be able to figure out how the figures walk and move from your own experience. 

The puppet's in the style of bunraku. Underneath the suit, it's made of wood, string and a little bit of elastic. The head was made out of paper mache.


advanced beginner group
The bunraku puppet, Steve, with the puppeteers from David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group! Photo: Susan Cook.
Do you feel different when you're choreographing from when you're dancing?

Paul: It is definitely a different experience. As a dancer, I'm first learning the movement and then discovering how to translate the choreographer's voice into my own style. As a choreographer, I’m giving movement to a dancer to see how it fits. 


Big Dance Theater
Aaron Mattocks performing in Big Dance Theater's Short Ride Out (3), Photo: Liz Lynch
What inspires you to do your job?

Annie: A very strange curiosity about how people move in a space and how to arrange that movement.  I don't think of choreography as dance steps, it’s more like building a house. You take the wood and the windows, put them together, and see how the house looks at the end.

It's all about seeing how little things become more than the sum of their parts. Choreography is about turning small movements into something that has a metaphysical meaning.

Since all four of you usually only perform for adults, what have you learned performing these pieces for young audiences that you didn’t know before? 

Paul: I was hugely enthused about being able to do this. This joy and energy from the audience is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

I love this flow of conversation with the Talk-Backs. All of your questions are so insightful and beautiful, it's like I'm learning about my work all over again. 

Doug: Well, I’m taller than everybody… There’s nothing more joyful than when working with young people. I really feel privileged to be here. 

David: I think that the one thing I’ve discovered is that there are moments where I was surprised how much it affected some of the younger ones. I will definitely revisit those moments to keep digging.

Looking back, showing our work to a younger audience has been a wonderfully chaotic experience. The innocence and the discovery–coupled with the energy from the audience–has been singular. 
New Victory Thumb Interested in inspiring a #LoveofDance in your family? Make sure to check out Victory Dance this summer!
Posted by Beth Henderson

We're at the last stop on our spotlight series of Victory Dance's nine talented companies. The final three groups to perform on the New Victory stage this summer are an exciting combination of New York City dancers. Get ready for everything from tap to New Orleans jazz soccer? They are the American Tap Foundation, Camille A. Brown and Dancers and the Nadine Bommer Dance Company. Check out the history, mission and #LoveOfDance of Program C below!
American Tap Foundation

Who Are They?
The American Tap Dance Foundation (ATDF) is a nonprofit organization committed to establishing and legitimizing tap dance as a vital component of American dance through creation, presentation, education and preservation.

From 1986 to 1999 the American Tap Dance Foundation was known as the American Tap Dance Orchestra. It was created, choreographed and directed by master tap dancer Brenda Bufalino and founded by Ms. Bufalino along with Tony Waag, and the late Charles ‘Honi’ Coles in 1986. During that time the Orchestra performed in hundreds of concert, stage and film projects and thrilled audiences around the world. From 1989 to 1995, the company also operated Woodpeckers Tap Dance Center in New York City and presented on-going classes, performances and related activities. In 2001, with a new generation of tap dancers and enthusiasts, the Orchestra was renamed under the artistic direction and leadership of Tony Waag.
American Tap Foundation
Photo: Lois Greenfield
What Will You See?
Prepare yourself for Tap Treasures, a contemporary musical review of classic and contemporary tap dance created by tap master Tony Waag. It will feature some of the brightest and boldest tap soloists working in the field today. 

When did your #LoveOfDance start?
“My #LoveOfDance began when I met the incredible dancer and choreographer Brenda Bufalino and the late tap masters Charles "Cookie" Cook and Leslie "Bubba" Gaines in 1977 at a tap dance workshop in my home town of Fort Collins, Colorado. They taught and performed with such generosity, humor and artistry that I simply fell in love with the art form, moved to New York City, became a professional tap dancer myself and the rest is history. To this day I enjoy sharing everything I've learned about tap dance with anyone who will listen, and I continue to be fascinated by its amazing history and its current evolution.”— Tony Waag
Camille A. Brown and Dancers

Who Are They?
Looking at history through the lens of a modern Black female perspective, Camille A. Brown leads her dancers through excavations of ancestral stories, both timeless and traditional. The work is strongly character-based, expressing each choreographic topic by building from little moments to model a cinematic sensibility. Theater, poetry, visual art and music of all genres merge to inject each performance with energy and urgency.

The Company has performed in venues both nationally and internationally, including The Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, The Yard, American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival, The Egg, The Kravis Center, White Bird and Belfast Festival at Queen’s (Belfast, Ireland).
Camille A. Brown and Dancers
Photo: Christopher Duggan
What Will You See?
Camille A. Brown and Dancers will present New Second Line. This work, inspired by the events of Hurricane Katrina, is a celebration of the spirit and culture of the people of New Orleans. The title comes from the second line, a traditional brass band parade for weddings, social events and, most notably, funerals.

When did your #LoveOfDance start?
"My mother loved and still loves musicals. She would share her favorites with me and I would learn all the dance breaks. I also watched Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson videos on repeat to get all the steps. I loved the theatricality and vision of musicals and their videos. I had a small voice, so speaking wasn't the easiest way for me to express myself. I always felt safe moving my body to communicate my feelings." — Camille A. Brown
Nadine Bommer Dance Company

Who Are They?
They are the U.S.-based company of Israeli choreographer Nadine Bommer, founder of the Nadine Animato Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Israel. Born in New York City, but raised in both NYC and Israel, Bommer established the Nadine Bommer Dance Company in 2015, allowing her to expand her company while returning to the city of her birth. Both companies perform locally and abroad. 
Nadine Bommer Dance Company
Photo: Oren Mentzura
What Will You See?
Soccer like you've never seen it before! You will see ten female dancers embody super-macho male soccer players and dance a match in Invisi'BALL.

When did you #LoveOfDance start?
"My #LoveOfDance began when I was very young. I was always pushed to dance by my parents, and my teachers told me from an early age that I was talented. Although I appreciated the attention, it wasn't until I was in the Israeli army (as all young men and women in Israel must do) that I realized I really needed to dance. I needed to dance like I needed to sleep, eat and breathe. Looking back, I suppose my parents saw this love for dance I possessed, and I'm grateful they chose it for me."— Nadine Bommer

New Victory Thumb Interested in inspiring a #LoveofDance in your family? Make sure to check out Victory Dance this summer!
Posted by Beth Henderson
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