Monday, July 7, 2014

Two Men by Soloist Renado Tozer

I unfortunately didn't get the pleasure of seeing the Zumanity show, but when I heard there was a male pas de deux, I had to see!

Firstly, I must say The sheer athleticism of these two men, Johan Silverhult King and Patrick King, is simply amazing! 
For five minutes I watched as pair have an emotional and physical stand off; battle each other, caress, push away, lust, control, accept, deny, cuddle. So beautiful and the way the bodies move so intimately together....Any idea how intimate and thrilling it is to leave your life in someone's hands and hope they don't drop you? As a former gymnast, I find all of them highly erotic,  sensual, yet and powerful!
And then there's that kiss. A lusty, pain-staking long awaited kiss, that lingers, and brings this beautiful and rollercoaster of a love story full circle. A story that can really be only told through them, because its a story of their own person relationship--The two men have been married for over 25 years now!!

I wanted to learn more, so I research a bit and came across an article.
In an interview with Steve Friess, from the November 11, 2003 cover issue story from The Advocate, the men describe their personal trials, and how they ended up dancing with Zumanity...

 "We never thought of it as being a gay dance," Patrick insists...Adds Johan: "To us, it's just a relationship. It has always been a human story, whether it's men or women or a man and a woman."          
The dance that led the Kings to Vegas started after the move to Italy as a way to create something together after years of Johan merely following Patrick's direction. It wasn't intended for mass audiences, but word spread among friends and the couple went on to perform a 45-minute version at Rome's World Pride celebration in 2000. That same year, they auditioned for Cirque du Soleil recruiters scouting in Italy.
The Kings heard nothing until August 2002, when Cirque -- with Zumanity in mind -- invited them to perform a 12-minute version of the dance on a yacht off St. Tropez for an elaborate private party thrown by Cirque founder Guy Laliberte. "They asked for something sensual, provocative and athletic, so by the end we were naked," Patrick recalls. "We had Ivana Trump with her jaw hanging to the floor." That being precisely the effect Cirque hoped for from Zumanity, the couple were signed within weeks to become a part a slice of the variety show!            

I think there is something incredibly brave about this piece and the story behind it is admirable, beautiful, jaw-dropping, and inspiring! I truly hope that I may have the pleasure to inspire as they have! If you want to check them out more here are their websites:

Dancer: Renado Tozer
Photo: Walter Zamojski

Thursday, June 26, 2014


I had to admit, the posters intrigued me. Spirito looked like something I would love to see. I own a small ballet school, and I often feel the need to see dance performances to keep my own inspiration going. Still, I made excuses. I was tired. I’d never heard of 127th Street Dance. It was going to be late. My weekends had been busy. But all of these excuses were thrown out the window when my sister (also my student) called to tell me that she’d auditioned and had been invited to join the company dancers in the performance. I bought my tickets immediately, and I’m so glad I did.
The eclectic collection of pieces had me enraptured from the start. I kept forgetting to breathe. The choreography was brilliant, and the dancers themselves were so committed to what they were doing. The level of expression and passion in their dancing were amazing, and I have to say, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. 

The choreography was original and unconventional. Often, I feel that the trend is to fit as much as possible into a short piece of music. This is impressive, but it all happens so fast, it’s hard to appreciate it. Some of the best moments in Spirito were the ones where the dancers stopped moving, or just breathed in the moment, or continued a progression long enough for the audience to appreciate the intricacies of the movement. 
The emotional energy throughout the pieces was also amazing. One piece would make the audience laugh, the next struck them silent. In some, I found my leg muscles moving right along with the gravity-defying leaps; in others, I nearly slipped into a meditative state. Several times, the tears fell freely onto the program I was clutching. For me, it awakened something inside of me that had been set aside for all the paperwork, the class progressions, the business of ballet. It awakened my dance spirit, and allowed me into a world where I speak the language. It was a beautiful moment that I never wanted to end. (And in case you were wondering, my sister was beautiful in the performance, and I’m ever grateful to 127th Street Dance for giving her that opportunity.)

If Spirito comes anywhere near you, it’s not something you want to miss. Dancer or not, you’ll leave with a dancer spirit.

~ Nicole Moscou

*Tickets for SPIRITO available at

Performances at Kirkland Performance Center
July 18 & 19, 8PM

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Work-Life-Dance Balance, by Corps de Ballet Dancer Ciara McCormack

I am a person of many passions- I am a dancer, of course, but I am also a writer, a teacher, an administrator, and a business owner. How I find the time to do all of this isn’t the question, because, in all honesty, I don’t. Each week, I spend a combined 55 hours rehearsing, sending e-mails, chasing 3 year olds, doing accounting, demonstrating proper posture, filing papers, and (every once in awhile) writing articles.

Yet, each job I do could easily be a full-time job, and each additional commitment steals time from the others, making it impossible to do each job to my full potential. On top of the stress of having a busy schedule, it’s stressful to know there’s more I could be doing for each occupation. I could be stretching and going over my choreography more at home, spending more time on lesson plans and curriculum research, or putting more effort into my business accounting and marketing…

So, why is it that I am still taking on new projects- applying for new jobs, saying yes to extra tasks at work, adding more shows to my calendar?

1. Because I’m still testing the balance point between all of these roles- I love working with little people in the classroom just as much as letting my body free in the studio and feeling the satisfaction of checking something off of a to-do list. I can’t eliminate any one of them, but I can continue to re-adjust the ratio- taking on more classes at the expense of a couple hours at my day job, adding rehearsals at the expense of frequently reviewing local performances. If a change doesn’t work, I can always try a new one.
2. Because I know what I want to be when I grow up. Eventually, I tell myself, I will be in charge of an arts-education non-profit that connects professional dancers to schools through long-term residencies. My purpose now, early in my career, is to say yes to everything that will contribute skills, knowledge, and experience to make that goal successful.

Beyond work, there is the job of having a personal life- having a relationship, allowing time for relaxation, celebrating and enjoying the company of people outside your home and office. After that, I do my best to sleep and do my chores, but learning how to truly balance that part of life with the rest of it- well… that’s the hard part. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

6 Steps to Overcoming Adversity in your Training, by Corps de Ballet Dancer Tira Sweet

The last couple of years, both in and out of the studio, have been filled with great triumph and even greater adversity. As a dancer, it is common to hear how much work you have left to do; your pelvis isn’t neutral, you aren’t pulling up enough, you could be using more rotation. You’ve heard many of these corrections and more over the years, but how do you process them when you’ve fought so hard and fallen short? 

1. First thing is first, stop beating yourself up. It is natural to make mistakes, even as you’re learning. Oftentimes dancers hear a correction and think that everything they’re doing is wrong, despite vast attempts at fixing the problem. Technical strength is a process. Some things go right, and other things go wrong. 

2. You’ll never be “perfect”...and that’s okay. A wise man once said to me “Once you’ve reached perfection, you might as well be dead. We all make mistakes until the day we die.” Not to be overly morbid, but I think he has a point. We’ll always make mistakes, it’s human nature, but what matters is what you learn from them.

3.   If you’re willing to put in the time and effort that it takes, your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength. Work hard, be specific, focus on refining your craft. Just don’t obsess over it. Often you’ll find that once you’ve worked on that area enough, you gain confidence in showing off the progress that you’ve made.

4. Take time to appreciate your strengths. It’s not being vain or narcissistic, you’re just giving yourself a confidence boost. Telling yourself what you perceive to be a strength can help you avoid focusing on the negative.

5. Take pride in being a PERPETUAL student. I don’t mean for this to sound daunting, but we will always be students of some sort. Regardless of whether you’re enrolled in a school program or not, the universe will always have something to teach you. Be patient, as these can be applied to your training.

6. Surround yourself with people who support you. Find a “safe haven” so to speak, where you are pushed to work hard, but can let your guard down while doing so. This allows for more progress, when you’re not stressed out about it all the time. Gather with people who will help you recognize your strengths, and help you with the hard stuff. Simple words of affirmation can go a long way.

For me, my safe haven is here at 127th Street. I am pushed to excel not only by myself but by all of the company members. I am continually inspired by each one to better myself as a dancer and as a person. Thank you.  

Photos by Vycktoryja Selves

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Home Away From Home

Home Away From Home
By Scotty Flores

I miss my family. I miss being within 5 minutes of my friends. I miss chasing after my neurotic puppy whose fur you can find on every couch, rug and sock.  I don’t miss the triple digit heat. I miss driving alone with my parents and our long talks that keep us up past 2am. I miss cobalt blue glass in every corner of the house and the sound of a million keys jingling coming home from work.

Moving to Seattle to pursue dance has to be one of my best decisions to date. However, being far from home is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. This will be my first summer away from home after a spring semester. I won’t be able to visit until December, that’ll be nearly a year away from my loved ones. As much as I love where I am and what I’m doing, I still get homesick.

I’ve made enormous strides in my time studying, training and living in Seattle the past two years. Looking back at my progression stuns me quite a bit. Two years. And look where I am now. I still have a long way to go, of course, but a lot has happened. A lot of the time I wish I could run to my friends and family to share the joys and pains I’ve encountered these past two years. It’s been quite hard adjusting my life to an entirely new place where I knew absolutely no one.

Seven months ago I auditioned for 127th St. Dance Co and little did I know how dear to my heart they would become. Within my first rehearsal as a company member tears were shed with one another while working on a new piece. I’m pretty sure about ninety percent of those tears came from me. Those first five hours with the company were physically, emotionally and mentally draining. I loved every second of it. It didn’t take to long to find sanctuary with the 127th.  

We are all working towards the same goals and want each other to succeed. We push one another other to improve, exceed and shine. We hug, we laugh, we cry and lean on each other. We share a passion for something far beyond movement. 127th St. Dance Co. has been my safe haven. The company is my family. They’re my best friends.  

Although my heart aches from time to time, I am reminded constantly how blessed I have been these last two years. The opportunity, love and lessons I’ve leaned with 127th have become priceless moments of my life I will forever value. This makes it all worthwhile. Being far from home hurts, but because of what I am doing, I know I’m in the right place and on the right path.

“Missing is just a part of moving on.” –Unknown

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Soloist Renado Tozer on Gymnastics and Dance

Gymnastics holds a huge place in my heart. I was basically raised in a gym, with the taste of chalk in the air and the soft eight inch foam mat below my feet. Gymnastics is a sport that tests the limits of human strength, flexibility, and movement. 
After 12+ years of it, I had to part ways with it due to the strain I put on my body. Fortunately, dance became a wonderful outlet for me, and even better, I didn't have to give up my gymnastics skill set! That's right, I found what is called Acro Dance, and fell in love! Acrobatics adds a layer of gymnastic technical skill (a little flash and thrill) on top of dance skills.  

It is a subset of dance that many dance schools may not teach because most dance studios don't have the necessary equipment for acrobats to practice with. Dance wise, acrobatic performers, for the most part, do not attempt to represent the emotion of a piece of music, however, if you know me at all, I'm a FEELER.

Come see me and the rest of the company in action July 18-19th at the Kirkland Performance Center!

Renado Tozer, 
Soloist, 127th St. Dance Company

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A note on motherhood from the Director

I am a mother. I am an artist. I am a woman. I wear my baby.
It is a sad assumption that mothers cannot have careers in the professional dance world.
I am doing it.
I have been an artist since birth. In its many incarnations, my art has seen the world of the two-dimensional and the multidimensional. In my mid-twenties, after a lifetime of dance and visual arts training, my life felt rested in the art of dance and choreography. I planned to be a professional dancer, briefly forgetting the root of my passion, which was always choreography. For me, it is creation that fills my soul. I didn't know how true that was until I created a human being. After the traumatic birth of my son, Oliver, my body could no longer perform as it once did. But I could still create dance. There's nothing like giving birth to give life and flow to creative juices. I launched 127th St. Dance Company in 2010, at age 33, when my son was a few months old. I was one hundred percent committed to this new life that I knew came to me, choosing me. And I was one hundred percent committed to following my calling as a choreographer. I knew I could do both and I could do both at the same time. My son attended rehearsals, strapped to me in the Ergobaby as I was steadfast in my attachment parenting philosophy. I did not want to leave my nursling, nor give up my career. I knew I had much to say as an artist and I knew I could do it with my baby in tow. So we danced. I taught choreography, managed a fledgling company's dancers, choreographers, finances, insurance, fees of all kinds. I wore my baby until he had weaned himself to only a few feedings a day.
Rehearsing WEEDS March 2013

Rehearsing WEEDS February 2013
By the time I became pregnant with my second child, 127th St. Dance was a well-established and baby-friendly company. I gave birth seven days after one of our performances and a month and half before another. I knew I had to get back into rehearsals as soon as possible and had little time to recover. With physical therapy and armed with our Ergobaby, I went into my first rehearsal three and half weeks postpartum. I was exhausted, but I did it! A few, short weeks later, 127th St. Dance Company performed Spirito, a piece inspired by the traumatic birth of my son.
Still of Spirito, performed at Bastyr University with Penny Simkin.

For a while, I told myself that I had to do this for my children, that I had to teach them that they could do anything. I thought I was fighting to make sure they knew that they could follow their dreams. As I get older, I am realizing that I've missed the point. They are here to show me that I can do it all. I can have all of my loves in one place. I can create these beautiful children and I don't have to leave them behind to create my life's work. I am humbled by the work these two young people have done for me.
Gratefully theirs, b

3 and half months postpartum
3 and half months postpartum