The Vissi Dance Theater is committed to art and artists that use the gift of dance and drama to explore moral and social issues. Through art, the Vissi Dance Theater seeks to speak to the human condition, lift the spirit, ask questions, celebrate the joy of life, and reflect the truths of human nature.
Veronica and Holly get a chance to interview some of the dancers from the Vissi Dance group. Here is the first interview with Yukari Ikegaya, the associate producer:
Veronica: So tell us about your upcoming trip to Japan.
Yukari: So we are going to Japan, next January 2020 and we will have a show over there for two days in Shizuoka, Japan. That’s my home town so I want to bring you know the Vissi company to Japan. This is my third time there and want to do more than just dancing, we want to have more awareness and more international exchange of culture and also have a workshop there along with a performance.
Holly: How long have you been dancing with this company?
Yukari: I have been with this company since 2005, so 14 maybe 15 years now.
Holly: What experience have you gained from this experience, especially traveling all the way around the world?
Yukari: It is so exciting because you know some people cannot come here so we figured that why don’t you bring them to Japan. People can see and share what we are doing.
Holly: What do the workshops consist of?
Yukari: We engage the show, audience and performer make it into a collection, see what we are doing and get close by bring people together to learn dance, talk and learn more about the culture.
Holly: Is there any difference or similarity?
Yukari: Dancing is universal, without words we can understand more through movement.
Veronica: When you say movement, what type of particulate dance does this relate to, the background and cultural aspects of it?
Yukari: Well, we do ballet, jazz, contemporary, African as well. It’s not limited to just one dance or one movement-it’s about the style.
Veronica: What makes your company different from others within your genre?
Yukari: We do more than just dancing, we share culture through dancing without words in order to share feelings and emotions.
Veronica: Are you excited about the trip to Japan? What makes this trip different from others?
Yukari: We have a sponsor on this trip from Japan and we will be there for one month and we will be doing workshops every year so we just keep going.
Veronica: That’s great! How long will you be here in New York before heading to Japan?
Yukari: We are leaving in the middle of January but, I will be there earlier to promote though the newspaper, media, sell tickets and hold special workshops.
Here is the second interview with Tonika Ayana Custlow Stuart, Rehearsal Director / Asst. Artistic Director/Deputy Assistant:
Holly: What was your was challenging dance routine and do you have a favorite?
Tonika: I guess I would have to say utilizing the hat in the battle scene. I dropped it once but I guess that would have to be the changeling moment for me. Overall, I would say that you would have to pace your self and keeping your stamina at a certain level in order to project your choreography.
Holly: What inspires you to dance?
Tonika: Feeling, energy and sharing it with the other dancers. But I truly believe it’s a gift from God so I will utilize it as long as I am given the tools to do so.
Holly: Based on that statement alone, what do you want others to take away from your dance?
Tonika: I want people to feel everything I do, I want them to believe that they can get up and joy me. I make it look easy enough for you to look at me like I can do that.
Holly: If you could go back to your younger self, what advice and lessons would you give?
Tonika: Audition more, constantly train, more consistency with training. We do it to perform but we really need to take the time to learn the basics, strengthen your core and keep things solid. Just be more hardcore!
Holly: Where were you before this company?
Tonika: Well, I moved here from Atlanta, originally from Baltimore, Maryland and I was dancing with a company in Atlanta. So within that time I’ve already been here for two years and I had to find my way to work and eat. While I was dancing with another company, just doing another project, I was introduced to Courtney and have been here ever since.
Holly: What advice would you give to inspiring young dancers entering the industry? What would you want them to know?
Tonika: You have to know what type of dancer you want to be, who your dancing for and everyone is not going to get the gig or the funded company position. If you are dancing for the gift that was given, such as myself, you will find fulfillment where ever you go. You don’t have to do it in a big name to be a professional dancer. Just for fulfill and share with the world and stick to it! A company name does not make or break you as a dancer because you are the dancer.
Holly: What was your most memorable experience while you have toured with this company?
Tonika: We have traveled to Japan and Italy so that’s king of hard. I would say my first experience was performing outside in Italy in a gorgeous amphitheater almost like the Romans were here.