a performing and teaching company

Original Encore Cast

Read Christian von Howard’s Interview!
Read Madeline Hoak’s Interview!

CARY McWILLIAM, Original Encore Dancer, Guilty Pleasure is Pizza Party Movie Night

Longtime Company member (1998-2008) Cary McWilliam played the part of the Costumer in the original production of Encore.

What was your experience like in the creative process of Encore? Do you have a favorite memory? I remember struggling with the speed of Encore. That dance is fast! And half the action from the dance was backstage with all the quick costume changes, which also had to be highly choreographed. I always thought it would be interesting for the audience to see that part too.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? On a beach sipping a pina colada. I am feeling lucky.

What is some advice you would give upcoming dancers? I’d give the same advice a former professor of mine, Gay Delanghe, once gave me. “Crosstrain” and “Swimming is good for you.”

Do you have a pre-performance ritual? It changed all the time. Sometimes I would have a ginger ale before every show – a drink I would never have any other time. But that didn’t last long. Most often it would be quietly marking though sections or steps I felt needed extra work.

Where/What are you doing now? I am not dancing. I teach with The Joyce Theater and Center for Arts Education.

Favorite style of dance? Well modern dance of course. It’s varied and always surprises me.


Maker and Muse: Daniel and Cary circa 2000 in Obsession.

When and how did you decide to pursue dance as a profession? I have always danced but it was in college that I had my first real modern class. I was struck. I transferred immediately to a dance major and kept going from there.

Favorite dance movie? Oh boy! I was at the perfect age for Flashdance, Footloose and Dirty Dancing. But none compare to the quintessential dance movie – Saturday Night Fever. Holds up over time. Magic Mike ain’t bad either.

Favorite food? A fancy salad.

What do you like to do when you are not dancing? Rest.

The most unusual thing in your dance bag? I don’t’ carry a dance bag anymore. I still have huge bags I lug around though. I could probably find a match box car or a pokemon card in any bag I have.

Who is your celebrity look-alike? I used to get Elaine from Seinfeld all the time. Now? No one. Not even that woman from Veep.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? NYC baby!

*DGDC Note: Cary does live in NYC, with her husband and son!

CHRISTIAN VON HOWARD, Original Encore Dancer, Keeps Coloring Pencils In His Dance Bag


What was your experience like in the creative process of Encore? Do you have a favorite memory? Felt like I was in on the early ground work that set this evening length work in motion. Served as assistant to Danny on several occasions. Performing the work in Michigan with Danny, Stacy and Jamie!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Retired!!!! Living in some beautiful place where my friends can come visit.

What is some advice you would give upcoming dancers? Be professional at all cost – always show up early, prepare yourself mentally and physically for each day, do your research, immerse yourself in other arts besides dance, most importantly – Do The Step, Take Your Notes, and remember being corrected isn’t personal.

How did you get into dance? Through creative movement classes at the recreation center on the Air Force Base where my family was stationed.

Do you have a pre-performance ritual? Listen to Music – Go through my show choreography on stage – A series of long breaths before hitting the first step.

Where/What are you doing now? Teaching at Montclair State University, The Ailey School and directing the VON HOWARD PROJECT

What is your favorite style of dance? I don’t have one; dance is dance!


Christian and Daniel in Encore, June 7, 2007

Do you look up to anybody? Who? My parents and my Colleagues who have been successful pioneers & innovators in the field; young and old.

What is a professional goal you have for yourself? Keep making honest work and never apologize for the decisions I make.

When and how did you decide to pursue dance as a profession? At an early age. Had my first professional position at the age of 16. Dance was a calling, I haven’t looked back or regretted a moment since.

What is your guilty pleasure? Buying Shoes :)

What is your favorite dance movie? There are many favorites – The Red Shoes – All That Jazz – Xanadu – The Wiz

What is your favorite food? Pizza

What do you like to do when you are not dancing? Travel, really fun when the two go hand in hand

Do you prefer dancing barefoot or in socks, or any other shoe? Doesn’t matter to me

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? Maldives

What is your spirit animal? A few different animals as the each have characteristics that reflect me – Cat – Wolf – Turtle – Loyal being the biggest attribute.

What is the one question you want answered? When will Trump be impeached? No SERIOUSLY!!!

Who is your alter-ego? Big Peach – A little ghetto, to the point, but very sweet. Also know as Cakey to DG.

Who is your celebrity look-alike? Common, Lionel Richie

Watch Christian and Daniel, with dancer Jamie Scott, intermingle in the celebrated Embraceable.

MADELINE HOAK, Original Encore Dancer, Spirit Animal is a Pigmy Marmoset


What was your experience like in the creative process of Encore? Do you have a favorite memory? I was six months into living in New York, and I was challenged throughout the whole creation process. I’d been away from dance for about a year when we started rehearsals. I was exhilarated and nervous to be working with such a great cast and dancing in New York City! Danny’s style was different than anything I’d previously been exposed to, but I also felt like it fit me well. We share a love of jazz music, so my soul was happy to be performing to it. A favorite memory: getting Congo! Michael and I worked it into the ground. And I loved watching the improv section with the hat. It felt so natural and easy on stage. Not like a performance at all.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I see…I’m living outside of New York – somewhere with a yard, and ideally a porch swing. I’m working at a university teaching aerial and circus history. I have two kids, and maybe a dog. I think I’ve written a circus book….

What is some advice you would give upcoming dancers? Drill it. Drill everything. Night and day. The speed can feel restrictive, but the ease and joy will come when the moves are ingrained in you.

How did you get into dance? I’ve always been pretty wiggly, so my parents put me in classes at a local studio when I was 4 or 5. Then my mom sat 6 year old Madeline down for a very serious conversation at the dining room table. “You have to pick: dance or gymnastics.” At the time I was doing both, and she could foresee complicated (and expensive) teenager years with competitions and touring. I picked dance because I liked the music. It was definitely the right decision, and I figure I still have plenty of years to learn how to do a back flip.

Do you have a pre-performance ritual? Yes. But it differs for every show depending on what I need. I’ll run through the show in my mind, warm up certain moves or double check sticky moments. I usually have specific music I will listen to to get hyped, or into character, or calm my nerves if they are along for the ride.

Where/What are you doing now? I segued into a full time circus career in 2013. I have performed aerial internationally, and now am an adjunct professor of Aerial Acrobatics at Muhlenberg College and Pace University. In the past few years I have spent more time crafting lectures and a full college course in traditional American circus history for Pace. But at this very moment, I am on the train riding home from a day teaching dance to first graders in Queens. Dance will always be with me in one way or another!

What is your favorite style of dance? I’ve always been mesmerized by the tango and flamenco. I have no idea how to dance either one, but I absolutely love watching them. In both, there’s deep sensuality and emotion to the movement, and yet a casualness in the form.

Do you look up to anybody?Anyone with honed self-discipline and excellent time management skills. People who finish things. All of my beginner aerial students for their bravery. Caregivers. People who fight tirelessly for other people’s rights.

What is a professional goal you have for yourself? I’m achieving one in just a few weeks! I had a goal this year to give a public circus history lecture. I’ll be speaking at the Sigal Museum in Easton, PA on June 17th. Next up, I’ll learn a backflip…

When and how did you decide to pursue dance as a profession? When I was 9 years old I watched Teresa Nugyen perform a solo at my local studio’s annual recital. She had just been crowned Miss Dance of America that year, and I loved everything she did. I was entranced. And I felt something. To this day, I can’t pinpoint the feeling, but I felt something. I was hooked. I specifically remember thinking, I want to do that. I CAN do that! I want to be on stage, and I want to make people feel something.

What is your guilty pleasure? A mani/pedi. And Smartfood popcorn… maybe at the same time…

What do you like to do when you are not dancing? Hike, read, color, and lounge on the couch binge watching something fabulous.

Do you prefer dancing barefoot or in socks, or any other shoe? Barefoot, for sure.

Who is your celebrity look-alike? Some people say Natalie Portman.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? New Zealand. But only for a little while. I’m a New England girl at heart.