a performing and teaching company

COMPANY MEMBERS

STACY MARTORANAstacy_1

Hometown: Cockeysville, Maryland

What’s your dance background? I attended the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts as a Contemporary Dance Major. From 2009- 2012 I trained in the Cunningham Technique at the Merce Cunningham Studio. During that time I was a member of the Repertory Understudy Group for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, learning and performing Merce Cunningham’s work alongside the main company. Since January of 2012, I have been dancing with the Mark Morris Dance Group. I have also danced for Rashaun Mitchell, Helen Simoneau Danse, Neta Pulvermacher, and have danced with the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company since 2006.

As an artist, what led you to Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company? I first met Daniel Gwirtzman as a student at The University of the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he was a guest artist. I immediately loved his class- the athleticism, musicality, technical challenges, and speed needed for the work (which did not come naturally to me!) I saw some of his dances on video and thought that they were intelligently crafted and enjoyable for both the dancer to perform, and the audience to view.stacy_3

What is your favorite thing about performing? The thrill! What a joy to do what I love and share it with those in the audience. I also love the challenge. Being out there in front of a live audience is a vulnerable place to be. Nothing is hidden, nothing can be edited out. This can be terrifying and at the same time the best feeling in the world.

What is your favorite piece in the Pillow performance repertoire? The Tisket solo. Technically it is extremely challenging, which is something I love. The character is also extremely fun to portray and the choreography is charming and smart, getting the audience involved.

What’s your warm-up ritual? Right before I go on stage I do some strong intense exhalations to get the nerves out (or at least try!) I also have to rub my hands together forever because they are always cold.

What’s in your dance bag? Dance clothes, socks, iPod, water, a Cliff bar, makeup, a brush, and most importantly, deodorant.

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? I have never been there before, but I think every dancer hopes he will have an opportunity to dance there one day. I am thrilled and honored to have that opportunity.

Have you ever performed outdoors before? Yes, last summer with The Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company in Rochester, New York. It was fun, yet also extremely challenging. We danced in the grass, meaning everything we do requires more effort. While we typically dance on sprung floors, in an air conditioned studio, we were in this case in the warmth of the summer on ground that were definitely not sprung. However, I think every dancer likes a good challenge, and thrives from one. This includes me. I love working hard and conquering something new. There is also something wonderful about dancing in the fresh air, and surrounded by nature.stacy_22

What has been your favorite experience with the Company? I wouldn’t say I have one favorite experience. I have for sure enjoyed having the opportunity to perform Encore so many times, and with so many different people. The dances of Encore will forever be ingrained in my body. I love returning to them over and over again and finding something new each time. Danny is also a blast to dance with! His performance energy, ability, and love for what he does. He also always has incredible dancers in all of his shows, and it is a joy to dance with great dancers.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer? The most rewarding aspect of being a dancer is always changing for me, depending on what I am working on at the time. Right now it is that I an wake up every morning knowing that I am doing what I love to do. I made the choice many years ago to do this, and have not let that dream go. What more could I ask for?

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July? The show will be a blast. Daniel’s work is so exciting, and the cast is excellent. There is a wide variety of works including dances with all members of the cast, as well as solo and duet works. The audience will leave satisfied and hungry for more.

 

DEREK CRESCENTI

Hometown: Shelby Township, Michigan

derek2What’s your dance background? I started dancing at a local dance studio in Michigan doing jazz and tap; BFA University of Michigan in 2011; frequently working with DGDC in NYC and am currently a member of Spectrum Dance Theater/Donald Byrd in Seattle, WA.

What led you to Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company? Daniel’s style and attitude toward dance made an impact on my dancing during my time at the University of Michigan; he frequently held residencies at Michigan, and spanning my four years of training there, my artistry as a performer was influenced by that presence. The rhythm, challenging footwork, and outgoing personality required for his work are what drew me to working with him upon graduation last spring.derek_reworked

What is your favorite thing about performing? The connection and sense of community that I have on stage with other performers while performing.

What is your favorite piece in the Pillow performance repertoire? I would have to say that Olympiad is my favorite piece of repertoire that we are bringing to the Pillow. The piece is pure endurance and excitement; by the end you feel a sense of exhilaration that you made it through the whole piece!

What’s your quirkiest warm-up ritual? Besides the fact that I have to dance on a very full stomach, I always have to do either 12, 15, or 20 pushups right before going onstage. It has to be one of those numbers.

What’s in your dance bag? Anything and everything: tape, ice packs, snacks, extra clothing, anything that I have ever needed once during a rehearsal period usually stays in the bag for good.

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? No history, but I am very excited to be with the Company as we make our debut during this very exciting and historical season!derek-31

Have you ever performed outdoors before? Yes, I was one of the dancers in the original premiere of Olympiad and Museum when we performed the works outdoors at the Nazareth Arts Dance Festival last summer in Rochester, NY. It was challenging dancing on uneven grass, but the sun and the close proximity of the audience made the performance so much more real. Especially performing the Summertime Suite actually in the summertime in the sun!

What has been your favorite experience with the Company? My favorite experience would have to be the garden party we had at the Gwirtzman household last year after our performance in Rochester. It was so wonderful to relax and celebrate with such a great group of people!

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer? The impact that we have on audience members; I greatly enjoy it when people leave a performance entertained, inspired, or excited in some way.

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July? It is going to be a blast! You should come and enjoy some fun in the sun, because we will definitely be having a great time on stage and want to share it with everyone!

MADELINE HOAK

Hometown: Worcester, MAmadeline_1

What’s your dance background? Ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop, acting. Professional experience: modern, dance theater, aerial acrobatics.

As an artist, what led you to Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company? I started with DGDC as a teaching artist. I have a passion for sharing my talents and watching others make discoveries through movement. After a few months of teaching for the Company I started rehearsing with them. That was in 2006, and it’s been a long, wonderful journey ever since!

What is your favorite thing about performing? Connecting with the audience and sharing time with my talented peers. I love the creation and rehearsal process with such extraordinary people, and then the opportunity to share our joy.madeline_31

What is your favorite piece in the Pillow repertoire? Well, Git It! holds a special place for me. I’ve performed it with many different people and taught it to many other duos. I never tire of revisiting it, and it never loses its spunk and playfulness.

What’s your warm-up ritual? Rolling from one end of the room to another while staying connected to the floor the whole time. It may not sound unusual, but there’s a lot of funny scootching involved.

What’s in your dance bag? Water. Crunchy peanut butter Cliff bar and/or roasted unsalted almonds and dried cranberries. Clean underwear. Clean t-shirt. Notebook. Pen. Ipod. A foam roller. Hair clips. Ibuprofen.

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? What are your feelings about the 80-year old festival? I’m thrilled to be finally going. I grew up in Massachusetts and never saw a performance there. I learned about it as a historical site and its contributions in Dance History class in college. I have known people that have gone and performed there. And now, I am finally going to see this place I’ve heard about for so long! madeline_21

Have you ever performed outdoors before? A lot, and it’s magical. Performers fill space with energy, and when your space doesn’t ever end, your energy has to multiply to accommodate. It’s a wonderful feeling. The only qualm I have ever had with dance and theater is that it usually takes place indoors, and the only two things that I think can make the performing arts better are being outdoors and live music.

What has been your favorite experience with the Company? It’s hard to choose. Creating Re:form at the Queens Museum of Art was a great experience. Commuting out to the Museum, walking through the park to and from rehearsals, having assignments to explore the museum as part of the work, watching a huge mural be finished and installed while we were in the creating process, being with everyone on lovely summer days. That creation process stands out to me as a favorite.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer? I always have everything I need with me. In college (and still today) I would be late, rushing to pack for a rehearsal. And I would think, “Okay, what do I really need. Really? Nothing. I just need myself.”

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July? Stunning is the first word that comes to mind. It’s going to be stunning!

DANIEL GWIRTZMAN

Hometown: Rochester, NYdanny_11

What is your dance background? I was the kid who was always dancing, could never sit still, was in constant motion, kicking a leg up high, or spinning as I cleared plates from the kitchen table!  I grew up performing folk dance, musical theater and modern dance.  After graduating with a degree in dance from The University of Michigan I toured with  Garth Fagan Dance and the Mark Morris Dance Group among other companies,  and in 1995 co-founded Artichoke Dance Company, a repertory troupe that continues  today.  In 1998, Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company was formed.

What is your favorite thing about performing? The freedom. A dancer’s day is very regimented, do this, do that, do it this way.  It is a life of repetition, of trying to replicate forms with exactitude.  But ultimately this is not what makes dance an art, and it is certainly not what makes one a performer.  It is those moments when I am outside of myself, that transcend the actions of doing  into some freeing place of being.  Dancers are addicted to the rush of moving their bodies in space and of expressing their interiors, their emotions, their deepest feelings.  I love the heightened space of performing, of both transforming into someone/thing other, and releasing that which is most sincere to who I am as a person.

What are your favorite pieces in the Pillow repertoire? I have to say this time around I am really loving Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.  It’s goofy and zany and just a load of fun!  I always love performing South and Rose Room.danny_31

What’s your warm-up ritual? I’m pretty serious when warming-up.  I don’t listen to music.  I just spend a lot of time getting warm and then staying warm, reviewing material I already know.  The performance sort of starts for me when I’m in the dressing room.

What’s in your dance bag? What’s not?  My gosh!  Being a choreographer/director certainly adds to the baggage.  Which by the way is rarely just one bag.  Tennis balls, winter cap (in case it’s cold), long sleeve shirt (ditto), extra socks, arnica, Traumeel, elastikon for my feet, toiletries, a stain remover pen, extra contact lenses, pens, two iPods, cables, videocamera, water, and always emergency nuts!danny_21

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? I studied there for three summers during college and then performed in the Ted Shawn Theater immediately after.

Have you ever performed outdoors before? I’ve performed a few times at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors; at the Spoleto Festival in Italy; at Jacob’s Pillow; and last summer on the grounds of the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY

What has been a memorable experience with the Company? There have been so many, but given this stormy weather we’re having right now, one particular performance comes to mind.  Many years ago I performed a trio with Cary McWilliam and Jason Ignacio (Puzzle) in Beacon, NY in a barn studio in the thick of summer.  A downpour prevented us from performing outside as planned.  As we lay entangled on each other, steam literally rose from our skin.  I’ll never forget the looks on our faces to each other as we continued dancing, watching this phenomenon.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer? Getting to fly.  Being a dancer informs every moment of my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  The sacrifices are immense and so are the joys.  As much as I like to talk, at the end of the day I am happiest when my body takes over and does the speaking for me.

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July? This is an accessible, musical, entertaining program of twelve dances featuring twelve charismatic dancers.  There’s something for everyone!

Jules Bakshi

Hometown: jules-1aMontclair, NJ (via Bombay, India)

What is your dance background? I was a gymnast for eight years, and my mom insisted that ballet would make me better. I detested tights and my iron curtain era ballet instructors, but she was right. I  discovered modern dance in 6th grade, and I was like “this is me!”  It was only a matter of time before I was pouring my heart into dancing. As luck would have it, Montclair High School has its own dance company and that kind of became my tribe. I discovered my desire to make dances and collaborative performance art, and my teacher Mary Blackburn nurtured my instincts. I studied at Barnard College under the guidance of Mary Cochran, Colleen Thomas, Paul Scolieri, and Katie Glasner and began dancing professionally with the Tze Chun Dance Company. I have since had the pleasure of dancing with many wonderful choreographers, notably Douglas Dunn, Emily Faulkner, and with Daniel Gwirtzman on several projects.

What led you to Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company? I first met Danny at Barnard, I was cast as an understudy in his piece “Field”. Next thing I know, I’m officially in the piece frantically trying to pick up the steps as Danny threw them at us (like most of his work, it was an extremely athletic piece that moved super fast!). I remember waiting in the wings, heart racing, ready to jump out onto the stage and accessing every ounce of strength and energy in me. I was challenged, and I really liked that. jules-21

What is your favorite thing about performing? Being totally present in the moment and inhabiting the universe of each different dance.

What is your favorite piece in the Pillow performance repertoire? I love Porter. I’m not in it so I get to watch, and as exhausted as I am after Olympiad, it makes me want to get up and dance some more!

What’s your warm-up ritual? I usually put on a bagillion layers and roll around on the floor. Since working with Emily Faulkner, who teaches Alexander technique, I’ve started repeating some of her Alexander mantras to myself during warm up to get centered and move in a more integrated way.

What’s in your dance bag? Water, a onesie, tiny foam roller, snax, Chogyam Trungpa’s Meditation in Action.

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? I’ve heard so many wonderful things, but I’ve never been. It’s definitely going to be an important moment for me. jules-31

Have you ever performed outdoors before? These days I hardly ever perform inside! I worked with Douglas Dunn for the past two years on Vain Combat, a guerilla style dance that we performed on the streets of New York for unassuming audiences. It was awesome. In NYC you get a wide range of responses to work like that, everything from total dismissal to absolute fascination.

What has been your favorite experience with the Company? Dancing Museum last year in Rochester with my friend and longtime dance partner Tony Bordonaro, was pretty special.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer? Being a dancer is pretty brutal sometimes. It’s rough on the body and let’s just say, you don’t become a dancer to make the big bucks. But at the end of the day, doing something I love gives me a sense of self worth and fulfillment that has ultimately made me a truly happy person. I know that to be the case for many other dancers as well. There’s really nothing like getting up in the morning, and letting your soul move around through your dancing body.

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July?

Because we’re working hard and it’s a show that will most definitely make you smile!

Christopher Nolen

Hometown: Pasadena, California

chris_13

What’s your dance background? Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Kyle Abraham’s Abraham In Motion, Gregory Dawson Dance Collective, Double Take Dance, Princess Cruise Lines, James Cameron’s Avatar (dancer), commercial artist Peaches, guest artist at Taipei Royal Ballet; training in ballet, modern, jazz, African, tap, modern, contemporary and hip hop.

As an artist, what led you to Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company? Daniel’s quirkiness mixed with old school modern dance and the new wave of contemporary.

What is your favorite thing about performing? I feel like I’m home when I’m on the stage. There’s nothing more exciting for me than to be in front of an audience giving everything that I have and for them to accept me for who I am.

What is your favorite piece in the Pillow program? I like all of them. They are all very unique and express a different side of dance and express a different part of my inner soul. Hard for me to choose which one is my favorite.chris_2

What’s your typical warm-up ritual? Don’t have one. I normally prefer to do a ballet barre and tons of stretching beforehand. Also love listening to my Ipod to get me pumped up for the show

What’s in your dance bag? Ibuprofen, Tylenol, muscle rub, water, dance belts, dance shoes, knee pads, socks, towels, resume, headshots, deodorant, sometimes lotion

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? I have never performed at Jacob’s Pillow before and I am honored to be a part of the history. This is an amazing venue. Everyone who is anyone in dance has performed on this very stage and I’m so thrilled and excited!chris_3

Have you ever performed outdoors before? Yes I have performed at several outside venues including Lincoln Center and many abroad In China and Russia. It was awesome. I felt like I was a commercial artist. The week at Lincoln Center it poured down raining and the show still went on and we still had a full crowd. It was awesome to see so many supporters of dance.

What has been your favorite experience with the Company? Working one on one with Daniel. He is amazing! I like his style. Its very unique and he still gives room for the artist to bring themselves into the work. He’s also patient, which you don’t find everywhere.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer? Being able to do what I love everyday! Sounds clichéd but it’s the truth. I love waking up and knowing that I am doing something that I am passionate about. Its hard to put into words, I’d rather just dance and show you what I mean!

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July? Because it’s FIERCE! And if they don’t come they will really be missing out on a good performance!

Jacob Paulsonjacob-1

Hometown: Adrian, Michigan

What’s your dance background? Ballet, Jazz, Horton, and Graham.

What led you to Daniel and the Company? The first audition I attended I really enjoyed his interactions with his existing company members. It seemed fun and positive and I really loved the community Daniel has surrounding him.

What is your favorite thing about performing? Impacting a younger generation. Performing gave me aspirations growing up and I love the fulfilling nature of feeling accomplished. I perform to inspire youth to aspire and dream.

What is your favorite piece in the Pillow repertoire? I’m enjoying Museum. It’s always nice to create, learn, and rely on a partner. I’m enjoying building a partnership with Samantha.jacob-2

What’s your warm-up ritual? I just really like to blast music. Music always helps me get in the mood to dance.

What’s in your dance bag? What isn’t in my dance bag? Headshots, Headbands, Band-aids, Gatorade, most importantly are spare shirts and B.O. Control

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? I’ve never been to Jacob’s Pillow. I’m thrilled to be experiencing it with DGDC. It’s amazing to bring dance together in a venue that has seen such an amazing history.

Have you ever performed outdoors before? I’ve been participating in similar dance settings as Jacob’s Pillow my whole life. In high school I attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and in college, Perry-Mansfield. Both intensives provided ample opportunities for outdoor performing. I don’t think there is anything better than nighttime performances with nature surrounding. Art and Nature, it’s inspiring.jacob-3

What has been your favorite experience with the Company? Just getting the opportunity to dance with the dancers =).

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer? For me, it has been the traveling. I’ve seen most of the United States because of dance as well as over 20 different countries.

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July? It’s about supporting a community of artists. Everyone in the company brings a wide range of aesthetics, with different backgrounds and personalities. This diversity is what creates the great dynamic for DGDC’s community of dancers. This community feeling will radiate from the stage at Jacob’s Pillow.

 

samantha_11

Samantha McHale

Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee

What is your dance background? I grew up in a studio setting, studying all forms of dance.  At the age of 10 I began studying modern, which included Graham, Horton, and Limon techniques.  I went to Arizona State University and received my B.F.A in Dance, focusing mostly on release technique.  Since moving to New York, a year ago!, I have performed with various companies throughout the city at venues such as The Kitchen, Dixon Place, and New York City Center Studios.

What led you to Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company? The personality I saw exuding from his dancers when they were performing his work.  And I thought, “This is something I would love to be a part of!”

What is your favorite thing about performing? It is hard to describe. There is an electricity in the air from the time when you are backstage warming up until the time you are getting off of the stage.  Being able to share my passion with an audience is exciting and never gets tiring!

Your favorite piece in the Pillow repertoire? Olympiad because of the large cast on stage, the driving music, and the fact that it is challenging physically.samantha_2

What’s your warm-up ritual? My quickest warm up ritual would be the Pilates Stomach Series.  It warms up my core as well as gets my blood moving!

What’s in your dance bag? A water bottle and a Balance bar.

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? No, however, I am so excited to be able to perform at such an important and historical dance festival.

Have you ever performed outdoors before? What was that like? I have performed outdoors on multiple occasions.  One outdoor performance in Arizona proved to be very challenging due to the fact that the concrete we were dancing on was scalding hot, despite the fact that the performance was at night!  Summertime in Arizona is brutally hot, so I am glad that the climate at Jacob’s Pillow will be milder.samantha_3

What has been your favorite experience with the Company? The community work that we engage in, particularly at SAGE, a senior center where the Company has been in residence.  Working in a community setting and exposing people to dance that wouldn’t normally come into contact with this art form is one of the most rewarding experiences that a dancer can have!

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July? Because it’s a guaranteed good time!

Micah Moch

Hometown: Los Angeles, CAmicah-1

What’s your dance background?

I started serious training in middle school when I attended a performing arts school for music and dance was mandatory in place of P.E. I then attended the Lula Washington Dance Theatre and studied ballet, tap, hip-hop, modern and West African dance. I also have studied at the Ailey school and Northern Illinois University in Theatre Arts. Professionally I have toured the country and the world to Kosovo, Russia, China and Brazil with Lula Washington Dance Theatre. Danced as Glow Sprite at Disneyland named “Orange Fury” and created the movements for the Na’vi tribe in James Cameron’s film Avatar.

What led you to Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company?

I was really interested in the theatricality of the company and the intriguing rhythms of the movement.

What is your favorite thing about performing?

Feeling and sharing energy to and from the audience.micah-3

What is your favorite piece in the Pillow performance repertoire?

King Porter Stomp [from Encore] has proven to be my most challenging number. It’s a fast paced romp with no room for hesitation but it’s one heck of a ride!

What’s your quirkiest warm-up ritual?

My Thai toe strengthening exercises.

What’s in your dance bag?

Snacks! Water, extra dance clothes, ballet/jazz shoes, head shot/res (never know who you’ll see in the streets), lacrosse ball, bike inner tubes, smell goods and contact solution.

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow?

I’ve performed at the Pillow once before with Lula Washington Dance Theatre. I am excited to be returning to the festival especially on such a momentous occasion. It is a very special place steeped in history and tradition and I am honored to be apart of it.

micah-2

Have you ever performed outdoors before?


Yes. Performing in the elements is always an adventure!

What’s it been like working with the Company?

I enjoy rehearsals quite a bit. They are extremely focused but everyone shows up and it’s such a fun group of people I’m working with.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer?

For me it’s working towards having your body open and receptive to achieving whatever your mind can perceive.

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July?

“In the Summertime when the weather is high, you can stretch right up and touch the sky!”…Come touch the sky with us on a lovely summer evening in the mountains.

courtney_1Courtney Baron

Hometown: Hewlett, New York

What is your dance background?

I grew up training primarily in jazz and ballet, while studying at the American Theatre Dance Workshop/Eglevsky Ballet School in Herricks, New York. I later attended the University of Florida where I focused deeper into modern dance, and graduated with a BFA in Dance Performance. Since graduating, I have worked with the Neta Dance Company, Tatiana Baganova, Dana Ruttenberg Dance Group, Jordana Che Toback, and Germaul Barnes. In addition to dancing with the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company, I am currently working with Danielle Russo Dance Company, and apprenticing with Zvidance.

What is your favorite thing about performing?

Being able to show the world who I am.

What is your most challenging piece in the Pillow performance repertoire? Why?

Definitely King Porter Stomp [from Encore]. Definitely because of speed and how precise it is, how specific it is; you have to know where you are in each and every moment, and you’re doing one emotion and one movement and then before you know it, you run up to, like, the next sixteen counts. So it’s just extremely fast and you need to really be on your game. It’s my favorite piece as well…probably because it’s the most difficult. It’s extremely fast paced, and features both sharp and fluid movement qualities. It allows for the quirkiness and individuality to come out!

courtney_3Which dance most suits your personality?

Again, I would say probably King Porter Stomp! Surprisingly. I think that my attention tends to kind of shift at any moment from one thing to the next [laughs]; it’s hard for me to hold my attention for a long period of time, and I think that what really kind of drives Stomp is that, you know, you’re always onto the next thing and there’s always something that’s captivating in every moment, and that’s interesting and that’s full-bodied in every moment, and that’s indulgent every moment. I like to indulge in the little things, so I’m enjoying it for those things. And it feels very natural in my body once I get into it, so that also says a lot about that.

What’s your quirkiest warm-up ritual?

I really like to lie down on either side, and massage both sides of my head with the ground…haha…I don’t know if it’s a mental trick or not, but I feel like it helps activate both sides of my brain! I know, weird…

What is your favorite thing to have in your dance bag?

I tend to not really carry that many dance-related things with me, probably just my cell phone; I mean, just as a person I need to always have my cell phone. [laughs] I don’t really carry around tennis balls or foam rollers or anything like that, so I just carry necessities; my wallet and cell phone and things like that…and socks!

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? What are your feelings about the 80-year old festival?courtney_2

I don’t have any personal ties with the festival, but as a young dance student I was educated in its history. I’m so excited to finally visit there, and better yet, perform!

Have you ever performed outdoors before? What was that like?

I have performed in many different surroundings and terrains, although never outside on a stage!

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer?

Feeling like I healed the people watching me.

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July?

You will love each and every one of us!

Jeff Davis

jeff

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

What is your dance background?

I started dance by taking only jazz and tap when I was eight years old. Now I love doing all types of dance, modern, ballet, hip-hop, folk, anything. I studied dance at Point Park University and danced five seasons with Attack Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA. I was on the national tour of FOSSE among numerous other regional musical theater shows, theme parks, operas ballets, music videos and flashmobs! In addition to DGDC, I am currently working with John J Zullo/Raw Movement, the Hudson Vagabond Puppets, and as a choreographer with Glitter Kitty Productions.

What is your favorite thing about performing?

Playing different characters, wearing costumes, being around other artists and creative people…and overcoming challenges.

What is your favorite piece in the Pillow performance repertoire? Why?

“South” [from Encore] because it’s a little jazzy like me!

What’s your quirkiest warm-up ritual?

Playing a three or four minute song and improvising full out! Starting chill and building in intensity. Or playing crazy rap and get pumped!

What’s in your dance bag?jeff-31

Water bottle, towel, 3-5 shirts (I sweat a lot), at least 2 pairs of underwear, flip-flops, business cards, combination lock, bathing suit, small screwdriver, pens, sketch book, spare phone charger, 6 pennies, 2 nickels, and some beach sand at the very bottom.

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? What are your feelings about the 80-year old festival?

I have never been to Jacob’s Pillow. I learned about it in dance history class and have heard very good things. I’m excited for the upcoming experience!

Have you ever performed outdoors before? What was that like?

Yes, most recently in June at the Astoria Dance Festival. It was random because it was at a beer garden so half the audience was there to see dance and the other half was watching soccer. Slightly distracting but overall funny. I’ve performed in outdoor festivals in Georgia and Italy as a young dancer; at Walt Disney World I was part of the daily parades as a character performer; at Busch Gardens, Virginia for about 400 performances of “Holiday in Roma” on a tilted outdoor stage; and at many outdoor shows across the country as a puppeteer…Most famously as “Rex” the 10ft Tyrannosaurus rex puppet. In Cyprus our set almost blew off the side of a mountain and in Reno nearly rolled into a river…The show must go on! Wear sunscreen!

What has been your favorite experience with the Company?jeff-22

I like the large group vibe of Olympiad and meeting the new dancers. It’s fun trying to build unity and cohesion with people one is just meeting. The dance is also very challenging which can be frustrating but also fun!

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer?

Getting to see the world from a dancer’s point of view. Having the chance to be living, breathing art.

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July?

Amazing Dancers Doing Amazing Choreography to Amazing Music in an Amazing Venue…Duh!

Becky Chaleff

Hometown: Pennington, NJbecky-1

What is your dance background?

I started as a wee one doing ballet like every other leotard-clad tot in town. I quit dancing when I was twelve, like every other teenage-wannabe in town, and I resumed dancing in high school with a renewed interest in not just ballet, but modern dance, as well. I continued dancing at Barnard College, where I first met Danny, and pursued a freelance career after graduating. I spent a lot of time at the Merce Cunningham Studios, where I studied on scholarship, and had the opportunity to be coached by Merce and perform with the Repertory Understudy Group. I’ve had the privilege of working with choreographers Douglas Dunn, Keith Thompson, Pat Catterson, Molissa Fenley, and, of course, Daniel Gwirtzman, among others.

As an artist, what led you to Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company?

I first met Danny when he set a piece at Barnard College. I was young and inexperienced, but incredibly eager, and the energy I put into my dancing seemed well received within Danny’s choreography. Danny and I touched base again a few years after I graduated, and I’ve been happily working with him ever since.

What is your favorite thing about performing?

There’s something that shifts when the lights go on and the audience becomes tangible. Within that atmosphere, when everything gets kicked up a notch or two, I find myself discovering layers within the choreography and within my own dancing that are individual to that experience, infused with energy, and imbued with an exciting unpredictability. It’s a real rush!

becky-2What is your favorite piece in the Pillow performance repertoire? Why?

I love the Encore rep for many reasons, but mostly because of the enthusiasm and cheer that they require in light of their technical challenges. These pieces are such great fun, especially the ones I get to do with Daniel. He’s such a great person to dance with, and we always have such a good time performing together.

What’s your quirkiest warm-up ritual?

Tendus and plies! Can’t beat ‘em.

What’s in your dance bag?

Water, a change of clothes, and deodorant.

Do you have any history with Jacob’s Pillow? What are your feelings about the 80-year old festival?

I don’t have any personal history with Jacob’s Pillow, but I sure am happy to be able to perform there this summer.

Have you ever performed outdoors before? What was that like?

Yes. The first outdoor piece I did was with Douglas Dunn, on the rooftop of a building in the financial district. It was hot! It was surprising to learn how difficult it can be to find your balance without the usual markers, like lights and points on stage.

becky-3What has been your favorite experience with the Company?

Difficult to say. Probably the last round of Encore at the Joyce SoHo [January 2011, Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference]. Everybody in the cast was so familiar with the work already that we really just let loose and enjoyed ourselves.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dancer?

All the shades of power and intimacy that you find yourself expressing. It’s a terrific contrast that can only be embodied by people in touch with themselves in this very particular way.

Why should someone come see the Company at Jacob’s Pillow this July?

Danny’s work is, I think, well suited to outdoor performances, and in this space the dancers are bound to enjoy themselves tremendously. It should really be a lot of fun!