Photoshoot w/ Shannel Resto: Having A Field Day in Patricia’s Closet! by Andrew Tran

I’ve always loved working with photographers. The way they can see the beauty in every moment, movement and minute detail and then share that captured magic with others is incredible and inspiring. Photography is a collaboration between the subject, lighting, makeup, costumes and conditions with the person behind the camera trapping that lightning in a bottle through their lens. I especially love working with photographers who understand dance and high action shots as well as still or studio work and Steven Menendez is a longtime favorite.

📷: Shannel Resto | Ft. Taylor Ennen, Alex Tenreiro Theis, Nicole Baker, Camille Workman

I did a recent shoot with Shannel Resto, an exciting young, aspiring photographer in April. Shannel came to me with an idea of using color blocking and bold, bright colors for a fresh Spring 2018 look that would have extra “pop” through layering the photos w/ gels.

We played around with Pintrest to create a vision board for the project. I immediately thought of Patricia Field as a source of inspiration for the clothing. I contacted her showroom and spoke with Michael. He had it approved and then let me come in and “play dress up” in Patricia’s “closet.” I was granted full access to anything in her showroom and archives to pull fashion for the shoot! What a “Field” day it was!

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After exploring the endless options, we finally agreed upon using some fashions by Lara Padilla, David Dalrymple (who has designed for Pat for years), Iris Bonner of @thesepinklips (who was just commissioned to do Stephen Petronios new bodysuits) and Jody Morlock (she is killing it right now on the fashion scene!).

Patricia Field has been an inspiration for me for years!  As most New Yorkers and millions of others, I was obsessed with Sex in the City and her dazzling costuming of the ladies and gentlemen of that special time in NYC.

I was personally introduced to her when I first moved to NYC in 1996 when her store was in 8th street in the Village. That's where I met NYC’s iconic nightlife royalty such as: Amanda Lepore, Richie Rich, Jo-Jo Americo, Keny Keny and more.

I got the chance to walk in one of her fashion shows in the late ‘90s, complete with 6-inch stiletto heels, hot pants, bat wings and yellow/green/blue hair extensions piled on the top of my head coming all the way down to my back. Pat was known to come to some of my pop up dance performances before ETD was formed. Pat has also been a kind and generous supporter ETD in the past.
I have been a friend, collector and collaborator with Scooter LaForge as well. He hand-painted costumes for two of my works: "Relax...It's just Ibiza," in 2014 and most recently, "Song For Cello and Piano,” in 2016.  He is a proud protege of Pat’s and works very closely with her.

This shoot with Shannel, a budding talent, felt like a haze of nostalgia and transported me back to of all of those key, formative moments in my life and career in the city, interacting and collaborating with such renowned NYC legends, and a glance into what other thrilling possibilities the future can hold when we work together in collaboration and creativity to make magic happen!

May Instructor Spotlight: JESSICA PHOENIX by Nicole Baker

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This month we are highlighting one of our newest instructors, Jessica PhoEnix. She is an incredibly talented Dancehall and Afro Caribbean teacher. Jessica definitely brings the FIYAH to all of her ETD Outreach Workshops!


1. When did you begin dancing? Has being a dancer always been your dream job?

I started dancing at age 6, my mom danced when she was young. And later after having us, she owned a fitness franchise for over 10 years. So my sisters and I were definitely encouraged to incorporate physical activity & performing arts.

Actually up to about age 15 I wanted to be a veterinarian, but after graduating from high school and heading to college, I knew dance was it!

2. When did you join ETD Outreach? Where do you teach for us? How has your experience been so far?

I believe its been about 5/6 weeks now. My main location is with the Acacia Network Detox/Rehab program in Bronx. And now a Mental Health care facility in Queens. My experience has been incredible. The power of music and movement is very real. I have established great connections with my participants and truly enjoy bringing healing and happiness.

3. What other dance, theater, or film companies have you worked for or taught with?

I have had a very full and vibrant dance life thus far including International & National touring with iLuminate & Universoul Circus. For the past 8 years I have been focused on the development of my company Fiyah Productions, LLC. In 2013, Fiyah Productions produced the first of its kind, full length Dancehall Theater production in New York. It performed annually through 2017.  

In addition to FIYAH Dancehall Theater, my focus has also been in women's community fitness. I cofounded the FIYAH FIT brand in 2015 whihc is a  ladies Afro Carib Dance Fitness tecnique.

4. What is your ultimate goal as a professional dancer/instructor?

Currently my goal and lasting dedication is to continue advocacy for Afro Caribbean culture from the ground level up. Cultural Artivism, Health & Happiness through Music, Art, & Dance as a platform to educate, entertain, and reach community spaces and beyond.

5. Describe your style of dancing and teaching. What artists have impacted you the most?

I mostly teach Dancehall and Afro Caribbean in Dance and Dance Fitness formats. My style of teaching is definitely a mix of structure with an organic flow. No class will be the same because I like to leave room for an exchange of energy between myself and the participants. The style of dance I teach has foundation, technique, and is deeply rooted in social, community, and cultural life. So I like for my classes to reflect that.

The people I have met during my travels to Jamaica have inspired and motivated me to continue my path.

6. What public figure has had the biggest influence on you and why?

Honestly, my biggest influences are in my family and in my personal relationships. While of course I admire many public figures, I don't know their full stories. So I feel the biggest impact from the heroes who I have connected with and know their personal experience.

7. Do you have a quote or mantra that you live by?

I have a few. The big one right now for me is "Busy but balanced" putting more value on what keeps me grounded, happy, and peaceful.

What's been the largest obstacle/struggle in your life to becoming an artist in NYC? How did you overcome it?

One of the big ones that I learned was how to balance and not let the distractions take me away from why I began and where I want to go. There can be so much to get caught up in here in NYC. To me, much of it is trivial and small matters in comparison to what truly matters.

With all the distractions, it can be very easy to miss the beauty that the city has to offer. If its not positive and productive to the mission, it's not worth it.

Constantly balancing, taking time, & recentering has allowed me to be both accomplished and at peace in mind, body, and spirit

 For more information about Jessica and her amazing programs, please visit her website:  http://www.fiyahproductions.com/

For more information about Jessica and her amazing programs, please visit her website: http://www.fiyahproductions.com/

 

 

THE WALLS THAT FEAR BUILDS by Eryc Taylor

As artists it is our mission, obligation and duty to build bridges, not walls. Though we may not be able to change the hatred, fear and ignorance which fester in some people's hearts or alter such unfortunate situations as a result of other's thoughts or actions, we can all do our part as individuals to actively seek to be more inclusive than exclusive, encourage diversity, celebrate uniqueness, and support and uplift our fellow artists, particularly those who may be marginalized or misunderstood.

I am deeply proud of my Mexican heritage. My mother was born in Mexico City along with eight other siblings, and came from an artistic background (my grandfather was a painter). Following a divorce, the children immigrated to the USA with my grandmother, an American of Irish and German ancestry, when my mother was 10 years old.

My first trip to Mexico was when I was 13, and it had a huge impact on my life. I was finally able to spend time with my grandfather and we formed a bond that lasted until he passed. He wrote me cherished letters on his old typewriter and I believe that the artist in him identified very much with the artist in me. He loved to learn about my early choreographic work and the cities I'd explored when touring with dance companies which took me all over the world, though I had not yet brought my own work to the country of my families' origin. Being able to share my work and collaborate with the people and artists of Mexico has been a lifelong dream.

That opportunity finally arrived when Eryc Taylor Dance was scouted by a producer in 2014. We were connected with Artistic Director Cristobal Ocana of Umbral Danza Contemporánea A.C., who produces the renowned International Dance Festival Avant Garde and we began a fabulous relationship which would span several years, which we all thought would grow and develop even further.

Our first tour to Merida, Mexico in 2015 was a phenomenal success! ETD conducted workshops for vulnerable youth and master classes for young aspiring dancers. We performed in a stunning theater called The Armando Manzenero. On our second and third tours to Merida we performed at an even more gorgeous theater called the Jose Peon Contreras. Each tour expanded. On our second tour we were invited to come back to Merida in perpetuity and Cristobal Ocana announced publicly the extraordinary news that ETD would take over The International Dance Festival Avant Garde. It was a powerful moment and career highlight.

We returned in 2017 and it was a huge success yet again. My lifelong goal was expanding to horizons beyond any of our initial aspirations, and we showed no signs of slowing down! ETD helped organize a cultural dance program for young Mexican dancers from the Umbral organization. The girls who came to NYC were the winners of a big dance competition that Umbral hosts every year. We coordinated a week long schedule of dance classes with our company, including classes at Ailey and BDC. We hosted a small showing at New York Live Arts for them to perform their work. This new mission was to be called #buildabridge with four different events scheduled for 2018 in the works and a fundraising campaign underway.

But sadly, this ambitious next step in our hugely successful and deeply meaningful collaboration would end abruptly. Right around the time that President Trump announced he was sending troops to the Mexican/American border, ALL communication with us and Cristobal Ocana was stopped. After reaching a breaking point in communications, and in need of contracts to protect ETD and my dancers, Cristobal eventually replied with a link to a story which appeared in https://aristeguinoticias.com/:

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Translation: "Do not direct your frustration against Mexicans: Peña a Trump "If you (Trump) want to reach agreements with Mexico, we are ready ... but we will never negotiate with fear," warned President Enrique Peña Nieto, who also took up what the presidential candidates have said, after the president The US will sign an executive order to deploy elements of the National Guard along the southern border, while the border wall is being built."

A text to me from Christobal followed: "Eryc muy tenso el ambiente entre nuestros paises." Translation: "Eryc very tense the atmosphere between our countries..."

So, that was it. I responded that I understood, and that we could hopefully work together again in the future, possibly in 2019, but I am doubtful that will happen.

A wonderful opportunity for continued artistic collaboration and mutual cultural exchange was suddenly thwarted by hate and ignorance bred from irrational fear. The misplaced suspicion of immigrants who built this nation and continue to make it rich, diverse and interesting has resulted in a crippling fear and hatred of the U.S. from other nations. It's a vicious cycle. How utterly humiliating and degrading to entire countries and cultures when the U.S. President publicly announces, worldwide, the intention to build a multi-billion-dollar wall around its neighboring nation and place travel restrictions on a very targeted, select group of people, marked by their faith, in a guise to keep out "dangerous individuals" (mostly loving, hard-working families like the one I come from).

Don't let fear win! Look at who or what you are cautious or fearful of, examine why and try to embrace or go beyond it. Eradicating this paralyzing emotion starts with each one of us!

By Eryc Taylor

Eryc Taylor Dance receives first grant of 2018 by Andrew Tran

ETD RECEIVES MARTA HEFLIN FOUNDATION GRANT 2018

We're honored to announce Eryc Taylor Dance has been awarded a $10,000 grant from The Marta Heflin Foundation (MHF).

In 2014, the Marta Heflin Foundation was founded to honor the wishes of Marta Heflin, critically-acclaimed for her roles in Robert Altman's films. Following her passing, part of the late actress's assets became a private foundation which supports the work of charitable organizations throughout New York City, often in the performing arts, true to Marta's passion. 

We would like to sincerely thank the Marta Heflin Foundation for supporting Eryc Taylor Dance and ETD Outreach for the third consecutive year. The awarded funds have directly increased the reach and impact of each of our programs, from 20+ weekly movement workshops across NYC to original, self-produced works shown internationally. The Marta Heflin Foundation has been an invaluable catalyst to ETD's growth and success, and we will be sure to continue rising in 2018. 

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INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT: AJ GUEVARA by Andrew Tran

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AJ Guevara has been a company dancer with ETD since 2016 but this is his first year as a movement instructor with ETD Outreach. No matter the population, AJ has an incredible ability to relate with anyone! He is a natural. We are so excited to have him on #teamETD. Here is a little about him and his life in NYC as a professional dancer...

When did you begin dancing? Has being a dancer always been your dream job?
I discovered dance at a young age, recreationally enrolling into Hip-Hop as a supplement to my martial arts training. After a prolonged hiatus, my intrigue for dance was reinvigorated as a teenager. It was then that I began formal training to eventually persue it as a career.  The trajectory with dance was somewhat accidental; In my youth, I remember being attracted to to the fields of animation, architectural design and aeronautics. 

What other dance, theater, or film companies have you worked for or taught with?
This is my inaugural season teaching with ETD. Currently, I teach in the Bronx at one of the Acacia Network sites.  My experience has been very fulfilling.  It’s great to share the space with individuals who are discovering the joys and possibilities that movement brings to the body and mind.
Over the span of my 15 year teaching career, have been blessed with opportunities across the globe.  Some affiliations include AXIS Dance Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane,  Gibney Dance, Company E, Fairfax County Public Schools,  NBCUniversal, and U.S. State Department

What is your ultimate goal as a professional dancer/instructor?
My goal as an instructor is to share the benefits of movement as an outlet for creativity, communication, and self-practice.  I also thrive to spread the idea of movement as an all-inclusive modality that can bring people together regardless of ability, background, or experience.

Describe your style of dancing and teaching. What artists have impacted you the most?
My dance style is a product from a cornucopia of influences.  I would say that primarily, it is a fluctuating blend of Jazz, Ballet, Hip-Hop, and Yoga. On the teaching side of things, I take an approach that has a progressive flow with task-oriented movement explorations. I also implement a somatic approach to a kinetic phrases to encourage an individual experience for everyone present

What public figure has had the biggest influence on you and why?
President Barack Obama and his legacy, for the countless milestones he’s  achieved; both as an individual and as Commander in Chief.

Do you have a quote or mantra that you live by?
Carpe Noctem is Latin for “Seize the Night”.  For me, its the idea of harnessing the energy of a difficult experience, braving the journey, and using it as an opportunity for growth.

What's been the largest obstacle/struggle in your life to becoming an artist in NYC? How did you overcome it?
The day-to-day struggles in NYC are the most difficult.  It almost takes a certain endurance to live as an artist here.  I overcome the stress of NYC by dedicating time for myself.  Whether I do absolutely nothing, or a leisurely activity, I actively schedule ‘re-grounding’ time to do whatever I please. Even if its only a couple hours a week, the mental and physical benefits are incredible.

 

 FOLLOW AJ: FACEBOOK AJ GUEVARA // INSTAGRAM @AJ_INTHELIFE

FOLLOW AJ: FACEBOOK AJ GUEVARA // INSTAGRAM @AJ_INTHELIFE