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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.

 

Akram Khan
Chotto Desh gives voice to many conflicts kids are faced with.
While not everyone can become a professional director or famous choreographer, the arts should be an integral part of everyone's education. By helping to make sense of conflict, empathize with others or even find new ways to solve problems, the arts can provide kids with a valuable toolset to apply to the challenges in their lives.

Director Sue Buckmaster believes kids deserve the same quality of work as adults. When her colleague proposed that she adapt famed British choreographer Akram Khan's autobiographical DESH to a work that kids could identify with, she knew she had found her next project. 

Chotto Desh focuses on the early life of Akram Khan and how he navigated the tricky conflict between his father's Bangladeshi culture and his own contemporary, British way of life. As a young man, Akram funnelled this culture clash into the only form of expression he could: dance. He and Sue Buckmaster hope that Chotto Desh will encourage kids to find solace and a voice in the arts. 

We were lucky enough to get to ask Sue some questions about the adaptation process and the importance of the arts for young audiences! 
 

 

Akram Khan
Akram Khan in rehearsal.
1. Chotto Desh is an adaption of Akram Khan's earlier work DESH. Why was it adapted?

Yes, Chotto Desh, meaning "small homeland", is an adaptation of the original, award-winning DESH, which Akram Khan created a few years ago for adult audiences.
The content of DESH is very relevant for this generation of young people. They have a growing sense of awareness of the racial and cultural tensions emerging in our society and need something to help them understand the effect it has on them and their families.  It felt very timely and important to share the wonderful work of Akram with a wider audience, when cultural diversity is a delicate issue and contemplating the arts as a career is becoming less of an option for many young people.

2. How different are the two pieces?

Before adapting DESH, I had already created a number of kid-friendly shows in my role as Artistic Director of Theatre-Rites. Two of those shows have already performed at The New Victory—Mischief and Mojo! However, I faced a new challenge in adapting and respecting an existing work for younger audiences. 
The original DESH was at times quite harrowing in content, referencing the political and historical context of Bangladesh. Political references have been softened, but not removed since none of us believe in patronizing a younger audience. 

 

DESH
Akram Khan in DESH.
It was important to do research with young people about the parts of DESH which they could relate to. Obviously focusing on the childhood experiences of the central character became clear but also their own interest in technology and the tensions they have with their own parents, many of whom have mixed cultural heritage.

There are more references to Akram's younger experience included in this show, to help our youngest audience to connect. This involved talking to Akram about his younger experiences growing up within a family with Bangladeshi roots and yet inherently knowing this was not his own homeland. By focusing on Akram's experiences up to the age of 16, as opposed to DESH, which explored his later, adult feelings about cultural identity, we were ensuring a younger audience could understand the story and relate to it. 

3. What excites you about dance today?

Dance is one of the best forms of self-expression. It's an outlet for emotions that can turn into negative behavior if not channeled. It's also one of the most powerful ways to communicate ideas you aren't able to pin down with words. Dance enjoys a connection with the audience without having to tell them what they should be feeling—it's open to interpretation and therefore values the audience's opinion and feelings.

Chotto Desh The choreography of Akram Khan is immensely detailed and takes extraordinary talent, so it was challenging to find dancers who could perform it and play the role of Akram onstage. Luckily we discovered Nicolas Ricchini and Dennis Alamanos, both incredible performers and dancers who have dedicated themselves to bringing this new version to life. They were a delight to collaborate with, and their performances have already received much acclaim in the UK and Europe.

4. Why are dance and the arts important in today's world?

Art is an essential part of our well-being, whether we are being creative ourselves or having the opportunity to watch others express themselves.

Young people should have access to the same quality of art that adults get, receiving the same attention to detail and consideration. Investing in the arts is an investment in our future because letting young people experience art allows them to reflect on their world. It could even inspire artists of the future! At a more basic level, we need to give children positive experiences in the here and now, regardless of future expectation, because we want them to know they are worth it. 

I also value the amazing experience you can have in an audience of both adults and children. Something very special happens when the two perspectives mingle. A truly universal and heartfelt response is conjured up that reaches beyond age, gender or culture. This shared experience is inclusive to all and encourages the understanding of differences. 

5. What inspires you about Akram's story?

Akram made sense of his own culturally rich but confused life by channelling his emotions through his body—through dance. He and his company, and I and my company, Theatre-Rites, are committed to supporting young people to find this same form of self-expression. At a time when more children are being brought up with mixed cultural heritages and many economic pressures on their family life, we all hope that Chotto Desh plays a small part in helping them find their own identity. 

 

DESH
Mischief performed at the New Vic in 2011!
Everyone is entitled to lead a creative life and should be able to seek out opportunities to do so. Art is one of the most successful ways of reflecting on our lives; we all need it in some form or another. We should never dismiss it as a luxury nor take it for granted.

6. What is the most exciting part about working with the Akram Khan Company?

In my own work, I follow my instincts and keep changing a piece until it feels right. For Chotto Desh I needed to follow my gut while also respecting Akram's original vision. It definitely made me get out of my comfort zone. I studied the original until I understood how to protect its essence, so Akram continued to trust and support us throughout the whole process. Great care and attention was given to all elements of the production, guided by the amazing producer Claire Cunningham, whose initial idea it had been.

I am delighted that we have created a production which is accessible to so many children and adults and has toured extensively around the world, reaching so many people. And of course it has re-ignited my connection to The New Victory, a fabulous place to engage with young people! I hope your audiences enjoy and are inspired by the show.

Photos: Richard Haughton, Patrick Baldwin
 
Sue Buckmaster About Sue Buckmaster

My first dabble with dance was with the Theatre-Rites show The Thought That Counts at the Barbican, London, this choreographed moving objects. After seeing it, Emma Gladstone asked me if I would like to make a commission for a family dance piece for Sadler's Wells and Dance Touring Partnership UK. From that, Arthur Pita and I created Mischief together, which has performed around the UK, as well as The New Victory!

I am the fifth generation of theater practitioners in my family. My great-grandfather founded a  unicycling troupe, my grandparents were musicians in a music hall act called The Musical Elliotts and my parents were puppeteers, The Buckmaster Puppets.

I trained in drama but now I primarily work as a theater director. I founded my theater company, Theatre-Rites, with Penny Bernand in 1997. Since then, I have directed several site-specific shows, visual theatre productions and dance performances in the UK and around the world. I currently have three projects on the go, and a few in development with Theatre-Rites. You can learn more about those projects here!
 

   
 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more? Explore the exhilarating exploration of dance for the whole family with Chotto Desh


 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Play with magic, tricks, and crafts in this Family Activity! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past Family Activities on our blog or at at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.
 
To be an official magician, you must recite the Magician's Oath: 

"I, (your name here), a magician, hereby stand by the Magician's Oath:
—I promise never to reveal the secret of any illusion to a non-magician. 
—I promise never to perform any illusion for any non-magician without first practicing the effect until I can perform it well enough to maintain the illusion of magic.
—I promise never to ask a magician how their illusion was done honoring the practice and tradition of the artform."

 

Sergent Pepper

Some magicians can move things with their minds—this is called telekinesis. Wow your family and friends with this trick to convince them that you have superpowers, all in the name of science!

Materials: Aluminum tin or pie plate, toothpicks, black pepper, dish detergent, water

Step One: To set up the illusion fill an aluminum tin with water just enough to cover the bottom. Sprinkle black pepper into the middle of the tray—make sure to use a bunch of pepper in just one specific area!

Step One: Take a toothpick and dip one end in some dish detergent. You can even decorate it beforehand, as it is your magic toothpick!

Step Three: Now you are ready for an audience. Invite spectators to gather around the aluminum tin, and explain that your magic words will give power to the magic toothpick to cause the pepper to scatter. When you have cast your spell, place the dish-soap end of the toothpick in the center of the blob of pepper and watch the pepper scurry!

BONUS: Trick your spectators by giving them a soapless 'magic' toothpick and encouraging them to try the spell. Only you will be the true magician!
 

Gizmos and Gadgets

As all magicians know, not all things are exactly as they seem. Jason Bishop and his magic partner, Gizmo the dog, work very hard to bring color and magic into our lives. Create your very own Gizmo in this nifty trick for your family and friends!

Materials: Printer paper, scissors, clear tape, permanent markers, washable markers, page protector (found at any office supply store)
The Materials
Step One: It's time to draw Gizmo! Draw a simple picture of a dog on a white sheet of paper with colorful markers—the more colorful the better! For younger children, parents can outline Gizmo in pencil and have children color him in. When drawing your dog, think:
  • What breed do you think Gizmo is?
  • What colors is its fur? Is it long haired, short haired?
  • Is it smiling? Panting? Sleeping?
Draw Gizmo
Color Gizmo
Outline Gizmo
Step Two: Get ready to make magic! Tape your sheet of paper with your colorful dog on it inside the sheet protector, and trace the outline of Gizmo onto the clear plastic sheet with your permanent marker. Then put the other sheet of white paper in between the colorful Gizmo and his outline—fashion a small tab with a clear piece of tape at the top of the blank sheet so you have something to grab onto to make the magic seem effortless! 

Insert the Dog
Trace Gizmo Again
Make the Other Sheet
Step Three: Slowly slide the back sheet of paper out of the plastic sheet to magically color in Gizmo! 

Ta Dah!
 


Pitter Patter

Magicians often converse with participants and audiences to engage them while doing their magic—it also helps to distract audience members so they don't carefully study your sly moves! This dialogue is known as patter. Write a short magician's introduction filled with one liners to use when performing your magic tricks. 

Watch these magicians' patter for inspiration!
Jason Bishop
Jen Kramer
Smoothini

Step One: Now that you have two magic tricks ready to go, come up with your Magician's Name and the name of your magic show! 

THINK:
  • What kind of magic do you specialize in? Levitation? Hand Tricks? Contortion? 
  • Are you performing in a stadium? In a living room? To a panel of judges?
Step Two: Write out a short magician's introduction. Fill in the madlib below!
Family Activity Mad Lib
Step Three: Practice your introduction to yourself and get the timing right. Then perform it for friends and family. They can't wait to meet their new friend, the magician!
 


Family Activities

We invite you to share a giggle, try some new moves and deepen your understanding of the performing arts with our Public Engagement Activites: TXT Marks the Spot, Talk-Backs and more!
 
Twitter   How did your magic toothpick trick turn out?
Share a photo of them with us on Instagram or Twitter, #NewVicFamilyActivity.
Facebook   What did your audience think of your patter and Gizmo magic?
Like us on Facebook and tell us what you thought up!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

At the New Vic, we help parents introduce the performing arts to kids as young as two years old and build anticipation for the shows with specially-designed Family Activities. To get ready for Paper Dreams, three New Victory staff members did the Family Activity themselves with their kids. These super-moms shared their experiences below.
 


Olga and LucienMy son Lucien and I tried out the Paper Dream's Family Activity and formed a paper jam band on Sunday afternoon. We crumpled leftover wrapping paper, rustled it, waved it over our heads like a banner. Then we scrunched it into a ball which crinkled as we passed it back and forth. I made us hats out of wrapping paper and a leftover doily and—why stop there—I also made paper bracelets, a necklace, a brooch which became a flower, then grew petals and might have eventually become a forest. Newly accessorized, we gathered the instruments in our house (plus a percussive bowl and whisk) and jammed. Lucien just turned one, so he couldn't tell me outright that he thought we were the coolest band in all the land, but the activity kept his attention for a long time. 

Paper Dreams is going to be Lucien's second New Vic show. I think theater is invaluable in the lives of, well, everybody, but especially kids, as it's an opening into the possibilities of the world. Theater exposes them to different ways of feeling and seeing; experiences and viewpoints that they might not have otherwise considered, and places beyond their own imaginations. All of that connects to research showing that early theater exposure boosts empathy and tolerance. As a bonus, theater is also a way for me to connect with Lucien, so I'm looking forward to many more great afternoons together. 
—Olga Putilina, Artistic Programming Associate
 
Nico!

My kids love any arts activity, whether they are making something themselves—like this dreamcatcher—or seeing a performance at the theater. The Paper Dream's Family Activity was the perfect fit for us! I believe the arts are so important to kids because they are experiencing an act of storytelling. By performing and creating, they are able to express themselves, and when they see something onstage, they experience someone else's story. All young kids love to hear stories and they soon start to make up their own. For instance, I started off telling him about legends surrounding dreamcatchers, yet my son decided the toys that decorate this dreamcatcher protect him, "Any bad thoughts are eaten by the dinosaur, blasted by the LegoMan or squished by BB8!" 
—Lilaia Kairis, Director of Digital Services
 

Lindsey and GilTheater is important for young kids for so many reasons. One reason is that, it impacts them both in the short term and long term. My son, Gil, is still talking about Wrinkle and Cotton from White and the shapes from Cité. He acts the shows out, talks about them like dear friends and remembers them fondly. 

Theater also creates space and time for bonding. When we go see a show together, we rarely argue and the whining seems to disappear. These are really warm and special memories for me as a family!
Outside of that, it also expands their understanding of the world—these experiences are something other than our regular 'school, park, home' circuit. New people, new stories, new places are part of our experience.

My goal with theater is to enrich the lives of my kids—good theatrical work for very young kids is also really good theater! The same reasons that theater enriches us adults is also true for little kids...it makes us all more connected to the human experience. It is entertaining and fun and surprising and amazing and when we exit the theater, we are changed. 

Last—but not least for many of us who have a couple of little balls of energy—they sit transfixed,  quietly in awe and we get to watch them. I get the same feeling I get when I sneak into to look at them while they are sleeping...honored to be their mom and thrilled that they are still and quiet!
—Lindsey Buller Maliekel, Director of Education/Public Engagement
     
 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more? Bring your smallest spectators and discover the magic of movement and imagination at Paper Dreams


 
Posted by Beth Henderson
Tags: 2016-17, Staff

The performers of Circus der Sinne's Mother Africa: My Home all come from the Hakuna Matata School of Acrobatics. Learn more about the school here and then play with acrobatics, rhythm and foot juggling in this Family Activity. For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past Family Activities on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.  
 

How To: Partner Acro

The cast of Mother Africa flips, twists and does amazing tricks in the air, but first you need to start with a strong base! Learn some basic partner acrobatics from New Victory Teaching Artist WT McRae in this video:
 


Rhythm Nation

Mother Africa: My Home isn't just acrobatics! There is also amazing music, dance and rhythm. All around the world people like to wear bells and objects that create sound on their wrists, ankles and waists. In Africa and the Amazon rainforest, some people wear anklets made of clacking seedpods. In this activity, make your own percussion anklet! 
Seedpod AnkletBell Anklet
Materials: Beads, jingle bells, pipe cleaners

Step One: Measure a pipe cleaner around your wrist or ankle. 

Step Two: Thread beads and bells through the pipe cleaner and connect the two ends together by twisting. Make jingle bracelets for both your ankles and wrists! 

Step Three: Once you're wearing your percussion jewelry, play these songs from Mother Africa: My Home and dance along to the beat.
 
 
  • Can you stick to the rhythm? 
  • Can you go low?
  • Can you go high?
  • Try to make an inventive dance move and teach it to your family!
Foot Juggling

Mother Africa: My Home features amazing acrobatics and contortion, but Circus der Sinne is also known for its incredible foot juggling! In this activity, learn the basic principles of foot juggling. 

Materials: Throw pillows, balloons, anything soft with a shape

Step One: Watch this clip from CNN's African Voices of a Circus der Sinne performer practicing her foot juggling. 
 
 

Step Two: Lie on your back and try to balance a pillow on one foot. Once it's balanced, try throwing it into the air with your foot.
  • Can you throw it to your other foot? 
  • How many times can you throw it in the air? 
  • Can you throw it to the foot of someone lying next to you? 
 
Step Four: Experiment with other things in your house. For example, try to a keep a balloon up in the air using only your feet.
  • How many seconds can you keep it aloft?
  • Can you throw it and catch it?
  • Can you pop it?
 
Step Five: Once you're done experimenting, it's time to create your act. Choose three tricks to perform in a sequence.

HINT: Start with the easiest and end with the most challenging. Don't forget to bow at the end (in the circus it's called a style!). 
 


Family Activities

We invite you to share a giggle, try some new moves and deepen your understanding of the performing arts with our Public Engagement Activites: TXT Marks the Spot, Talk-Backs and more!
 
Twitter   How did your percussion anklet turn out?
Share a photo of itwith us on Instagram or Twitter, #NewVicFamilyActivity.
Facebook   What did your audience think of your acrobatics and foot juggling?
Like us on Facebook and their responses!

Basic Partner Acrobatics video by Blake McCarty and Kyle Scott 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Not everyone grows up to have the career of their wildest dreams. But Jason Bishop is one of the lucky few, and he worked really hard to get there. Since he was a teenager, Jason has been obsessed with making the impossible possible by performing slieght of hand tricks that amazed his family and friends. Now, he gets to perform in a theater where Houdini himself made a big splash!

We sat down to talk with Jason and his dog Gizmo about their start in magic!
 
 
 
Jason Bishop
Why did you first start performing magic?

I always appreciated and enjoyed magic. I'd watch it on TV or live whenever I could. But I never thought I could do it. I didn't think I was special enough or figured I didn't start early enough. But I was a fan! Then at about 15 I just became totally consumed. After that, every day was filled with studying books, videos and practicing or dreaming about magic. 

Without telling us how the trick works, what was the first trick you ever learned? What's the most difficult trick you've ever done?

Probably the first was a simple sleight like the French Drop. It's a great utility sleight. Most magicians learn it early on and yet most big magicians will still use it when they need to! It's the method you use to make something vanish in your bare hands. 

The most difficult is the card manipulation. It's something that requires concentration and lots of practice to keep up on. Making cards disappear or appear or bounce off the stage requires constant attention and effort. Although some of the big illusions require a lot of effort and attention, too, like the Double Levitation. 

When and how did you decide that you wanted to be a professional magician?

Jason
Growing up, I never for a moment felt I had to be anything anyone else wanted me to be. I always had my own idea of what I wanted to do. When I decided on being a magican early on, it just seemed right. My thought process was, "Yup, I'll be a magician, that's that." Looking back I can see why some people had big, big reservations and doubts about my choice. But, at the time, I honestly couldn't understand why they doubted it, since I could see it so clearly. Of course, I didn't know all of the challenges I'd face along the way, but now I'm glad I didn't doubt myself and took that leap of faith!

Houdini once performed at the New Vic! How excited are you to follow in his footsteps and perform in the center of New York City?

Extremely excited! I was never really into reading about tricks as a kid, but I loved reading about the history of magicians. Houdini was around in an amazing time for magic with other top magicians as well. To perform at The New Victory, to be at 42nd and 7th, an area steeped in the rich history of magic and vaudeville, is completely breathtaking. I have to pinch myself thinking of the caliber of performers who havestood where I'll be standing. It's a total honor.

What advice would you give to aspiring magicians?

Learn, learn, learn, learn. And never in your life stop learning. Always look for the way to improve what you do. Don't quit. But, at the same time, seriously evaluate yourself and your magic. Be honest with yourself and then improve where you find any weaknesses. 

Do the best magic you can and always look for ways to be yourself as a performer.

What magicians inspire you?

Rob Zabrecky is a favorite, a very new and extremely different performer. I love that! David Copperfield set the artistic bar in magic extremely high. Also, I find Penn and Teller to be refreshingly creative. There are so many more, I could take all day talking about them!

How did you first meet Gizmo?

Jason and GismoI met Gizmo 4 years ago. I went to see him when he was 8 weeks old. After I fell in love, I used that night to decide if I'd get him. I called the next day and his owner said she was selling him to someone else! I was very persistent, made my case, never quit and she agreed to sell him to me if I arrived the very next day before 1pm. It was a snowy mess, but I got there, got Giz and he's been my buddy ever since!

Question for Gizmo: What's your favorite part of performing with Jason?

Running onstage to gasps of love from the audience! And the catering. I love the catering!

And Gizmo, what are you most excited to sniff in New York City?

I've heard there are very exotic dogs here. I want to know what they smell like!!!

 
   
 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more? Get tickets to explroe the incredible magic of Jason Bishop: Straight Up Magic before they disappear in a flash! 


 
Posted by Beth Henderson

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we're talking to third-year usher Cynthia Arce from the Bronx. 
 

Cynthia ArceWhat has been your favorite show at the New Vic?
Cirque Ziva. This show was very unique and unlike anything I'd ever seen. It was definitely memorable. My favorite scene was when a lady balanced chandeliers on her hands and feet and spun around.

What show are you most excited for this season?
Mother Africa because I've heard some of the ushers who have seen it before talk about it. It sounds exciting.

The thing I like most about being an usher is…
Learning from one another. I appreciate everyone's opinion and point of view. I learn so many new things from fellow ushers that expand my knowledge of theater.

My favorite memory from working as an usher was...
Playing team-building games at Front of House meetings before the show. Through this job I have learned that working in a team environment is comforting and that everyone is there to help you. It changed me, because now I know that I am never alone, and that I don't have to be afraid to ask questions at work. We're all in this together. 

My dream job would be...
I dream of becoming a lawyer because I'm interested in how the judicial system works. Criminal justice has always been my passion. It's fascinating to learn why a person has committed a crime.

My love of theater started…
At The New Victory Theater!

Who inspires you?
My grandmother. She is the strongest woman I know and has a huge heart. She is my number one supporter and motivator. She always pushes me to reach my highest potential. 

What was your favorite story as a kid?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I enjoyed how this book was so realistic that it looked like the caterpillar was really eating through the pages. My favorite part of the book was when he ate so much that he got a belly ache. It reminded me of myself and how much I enjoyed junk food.

What's your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject is English because in writing there is no right or wrong answer; you can make it your own and no one can take that away from you. When I write, I am free to let all of my thoughts fly out without worrying. It's such a good feeling.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not at work?
Sleep!

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
The Pier. It's a beautiful open place by the water where you can sit and admire the view or lay down and relax under the sun. 

Describe the most challenging thing about being an usher.
It's challenging to defuse difficult situations that may arise on the job.

Describe your dream vacation
A hot, sunny, tropical place somewhere in Latin America, where I can lay on the beach under a palm tree and enjoy a cool breeze as the sun sets.
 

 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more about The New Victory Theater Usher Program? Take a look here!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Noluyanda Mqulwana, Nolly for short, grew up in the township of Khayelitsha near Cape Town in South Africa. Growing up, Nolly saw that many of her neighbors didn't have a plan for their future. To give herself something to work for, she began studying ballet with Dance for All at the age of nine. She knew that dancing would give her the strength to avoid the pitfalls of her peers, but she never imagined the adventures she would find on this career path!

Now, she's coming to New York City to dance in Mother Africa: My Home with a company of dancers, musicians and acrobats from all over Africa! We spoke to her about her inspiring journey...
 
Noluyanda's Headshot
1. In your own words, what was your childhood like? 

Coming from a disadvantaged community, I had nothing to do after school. A lot of my peers didn't care about the future ahead and sat around, doing nothing. Because of this and other bad influences, many sadly fell victim to HIV.

Even at a young age, I knew dancing would both keep me busy and give me strength to avoid getting involved with the wrong crowd.

2. Can you describe the moment when you first fell in love with dance? 

I fell in love with dance when I was about nine. I was always an active kid who liked playing sports, so when I heard that my school would offer dance classes, I got very excited! I really did fall in love at my first lesson.

I was so enthusiastic when I started that I constantly wore my ballet slippers so I could practice all the time!

3. How would your life be different if you weren't a dancer? 
 
I wouldn’t have been as disciplined or driven as I am today. Also, if I didn’t have dance, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school. Since I was raised by a single parent, I would’ve started working at a very young age to help my mother. I still had to work to help support my family, but I was able to both go to school and work as a dance teacher. 

4. What is it like to be a dancer in such a large circus troupe?

Since I come from a classical ballet background, it’s a totally different world for me. Even the music and scenery on the stage are different! It’s been incredibly fun to go from the technical world of ballet to really "get down" with a type of dance called pantsula.
 

 
Another big difference is the amount of stamina involved. I used a certain amount of energy as a ballet dancer, but Mother Africa requires a lot more. Cardio needed to become one of my passions, too. I thank God every day that I’m able to be a diverse dancer!

5. Which act in Mother Africa: My Home is your favorite to watch?

Nolly DancingHonestly, all of them are my favorite, because each artist works with such focus and discipline. If I had to pick, I’d choose the smaller transition moments between each act. In these few minutes, the artists are challenged to find and connect with the idea of "home." When the transitions happen, these artists are given a freedom to move creatively, which helps the whole production grow.

6. When did you start traveling? Do you have a favorite place you've been to?

I started traveling when my professional career was just starting, at seventeen years old. It’s been a dream come true!

It’s hard to have a favorite place. Ever since I started traveling, I've always liked to stay in a country long enough to learn as much as I can about it. Then, if opportunities arise, I move on to the next one. However, Germany stole my heart five years ago, and it’s still my home to this day. So, that would have to be my favorite place... for now!

7. Why do you think it's important to teach kids about dance? 

Back in the day, dancing was ignored since most people didn't think you could make much money as a professional performer. Today, kids have the opportunity to choose something that might not be the most conventional way to earn a living, but gives them joy and happiness. Even if kids don’t pursue dance professionally, it keeps them healthy and teaches them a lot of principles like dedication and discipline. 

8. What's your favorite form of dance?

All dance forms are my favorite! I live my life through movement and, because of that, I have to be ready for all kinds of styles... and I love each and every one.
 
New Victory Thumb See Nolly in action at Mother Africa: My Home. This exciting circus spectacular runs from now until January 1st. Get your tickets here!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson