Monday, June 6, 2011

Meet Jodi and Anne: Circus Studio Week TAs!

Meet Jodi and Anne! These two women will be the wonderful and talented teaching artists that lead our Circus Studio Week - and teach your kids juggling, acrobatics, the diabolo, and other wonderful and mysterious magical circus tricks.

Jodi Gelbman
New Victory: In addition to being a New Vic teaching artist, what else do you do?
Jodi Gelbman: I am fortunate to have a varied and exciting career. I perform and direct; I am a narrator for audio book recording; I have appeared on television and commercials; I also teach for Lincoln Center as well as Disney.
Anne Zuerner: I am a choreographer and dancer. I have a dance company called RoxanneLola MovementMachine. We perform my contemporary dance choreography in theaters and non-traditional spaces all around the city.

NV: What is your education and artistic training background?
JG: I studied acting at the Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. There I studied not only acting, but also clowning and physical theater. In addition to that, I grew up at a regional theater and much of my education came from my years spent working there. But, perhaps my most important training came from my father, who is also an actor.
AZ: I have a B.A. in dance from Barnard College. From ages 5 to 18, I studied ballet at the Newport Academy of Ballet, Phillips Academy, and at summer programs with Boston Ballet, Hartford Ballet and Dance Aspen. In college I studied modern dance techniques such as Cunningham, Graham, and Limon and attended summer programs at Tisch School of the Arts, Mark Morris Dance Group, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and MELT at Movement Research. I continue to study ballet with Janet Panetta and Christine Wright. I chose to set out on my own as a choreographer right out of college rather than audition for companies. I continue to learn about contemporary choreography by seeing lots of dance shows all the time!

Anne Zuerner
NV: Where have you traveled for your career in arts or arts education?
JG: As an actor I have performed in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, and New York. Internationally, I was thrilled to perform in Moscow, Russia. This summer I am excited to spend two weeks teaching in Alaska.
AZ: Performing, studying and teaching dance has brought me to Haiti, Scotland, South Africa, San Diego, Germany, Memphis and Aspen.

NV: Why is it important to teach arts education in schools? Outside of schools?
JG: There are many reason it is important to have arts education in schools and out of schools. Arts education is one of the best ways to teach cooperation and working together. In the theater we call it working in an ensemble. Working well with others is a skill that will translate into all aspects of life.
Additionally, I believe arts education teaches people problem solving and risk taking. We often teach young people how to get to the “right” answer, but we rarely teach kids how to think outside the box and be different. It is just that kind of thinking that leads to the next big invention of our time. Arts education provides an enjoinment for young people to realize that it’s okay to try something new and be different.
AZ: Studying the arts is a way to develop many important skills for life such as working with a team, problem solving, using your imagination and creativity, asking questions, and discussing ideas. Training your mind to think creatively can relate to any field you pursue. My study of dance has taught me about culture, history, anatomy, and discipline as well as how to move my body. Being a choreographer helps me keep my mind nimble because I am constantly thinking on my feet (both literally and figuratively) and reacting to situations that arise in the studio.

NV: Why are you excited for the upcoming Studio Week?
JG: Studio week is a great experience for me because I love working with all the eager young people that sign up to work with us. Sometimes kids come up with things that adult would never think of and I'm always surprised and delighted to see them work. And, of course, it's just so much fun.
AZ: I love working on partner acrobatics and I'm excited to teach my choreography to the workshop students. I love the playful yet rigorous atmosphere of Studio Weeks where having fun is serious business.

Brownstone in Bedford Stuyvesant
By: reclaimedhome, Creative Commons
NV: What’s one secret, special or “hidden” thing you love about New York?
JG: New York makes me smile and laugh every day. We are so lucky to live in a place where pure genious comedy takes place around us, every day, in the most unlikely of places; the subway, the street, the park, the sidewalk, the library or the school. It’s a joy to walk down these streets every day and see the little things that surprise me and make me laugh!
AZ: I love traveling to neighborhoods I don't know very well and discovering all the new people and places. Usually teaching brings me to many new neighborhoods. I love taking the B26 bus through Bed-Stuy [Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn] and looking out the window at the community, the brownstowns, gardens and life in action.

NV: What has been your most memorable moment as a performer?
JG: I had the good fortune of growing up in a wonderful theater. I was in plays with my family from the time I was 7 years old. I am from Salinas, California, which is the same town as John Steinbeck. At the theater I grew up at we adapted East of Eden into a stage play. My family and I were in this play and it was a magical experience.
AZ: When Mikhail Barishnikov (famous ballet dancer) was in the audience!

NV: Who are your circus/comedy inspirations?
JG: My biggest inspiration is my father. He never misses an opportunity to make people laugh. Be it running into a lamp post or tripping over a crack in the side walk. I think I have learned more from him than from all of the comics I have seen.
AZ: Gene Kelly, Jamie Adkins, Mizuto Abura, Pina Bausch, Ohad Naharin, Tere O'Conor, Sarah Michelson.

Group pyramid! Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos
NV: What is your favorite circus act / trick?
JG: I love group pyramids! It is amazing to see a large group of people working together to make something amazing. Pyramids are something that you can’t do by yourself and you have to work together to make them work. But, when people work together well the results can be spectacular!
AZ: Any partner balances.

NV: Something unique about you?
JG: In my free time I love to cook and enjoy time with my friends and family.
AZ: I study yoga, I have two cats and my last name means angry in German, but I'm not an angry person!

NV: What has been your most memorable moment as a teaching artist or educator?
JG: One of my most memorable moments was last year in Studio Week….together we created a very wonderful performance for the end of our week. Many students were worried about performing in front of their loved ones, but at the end of the day it was pretty special. Especially [when we] started the show off with a dance to The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."
AZ: Bringing a group of high school students to a theater festival in South Africa. Learning about apartheid first hand, walking through townships, experiencing South African history and culture through dance and theater with these students was an incredible learning experience that shed light back on the history of race relations of in the U.S. and our own experiences as Americans.

If you are interested in signing your kids up for Circus Studio Week, there are limited spots available in June and July for this one-of-a-kind program!

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