Dance Mogul Exclusive Interview…
Dance Mogul Q + A:
Dance Mogul: How did you fall in love with dance?
Hannah Baumgarten: I was put in dance at the age of five by my mother, who had trained as a dancer. I quickly fell in love with performing and the intense rewards of being on stage. However, I also enjoyed the physicality and community specific to the art form of dance.
Dance Mogul: Who were some of your early inspirations?
Hannah Baumgarten: As a child, I looked up to figures such as Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev, largely due to a dance book that I would look at the British Council Library, waiting for my parents to come to pick me up after classes when I was a child living in Jerusalem. Before I returned to the US, the library gave me the book, and I have it to this day. It is called the Dancer’s World.
Dance Mogul: How did you handle the challenge of attending Juilliard and graduating? Hannah Baumgarten: When I was 16, I auditioned for Juilliard and was turned down flat. I regrouped and enrolled in the University of Utah Ballet Department, where I eventually gained a scholarship and a place in Utah Ballet, the University’s touring company. I left college two years later to pursue modern dance in New York. After another two years of training and performing with professional companies in NYC, I re-auditioned and was welcomed with open arms. The legacy of that institution is palpable; the environment and the education provided me with a permanent sense of identity on the field and a responsibility to it. I worked hard and was given tremendous opportunities to dance the works of the masters and information to last a lifetime. When I graduated, I had a tough time finding the “big jobs” I thought would fall into my lap. Instead, I worked smaller jobs until I migrated to Florida, following the advice of one of my Juilliard mentors Pia Gilbert who told me that the greatest obligation was to grow the arts in a community with none. Daniel Lewis and others were already here; we have worked side by side for many moons to help South Florida become the dance community it is today.
Dance Mogul: What have been some of your favorite moments dance has brought you? Hannah Baumgarten: Too many to list. Transcendent moments on stage, meeting Diego, my partner, brushing up against true geniuses in the field, dancing to a full orchestra, watching my dancers, whether they be professionals or students, live my voice through their dancing, watching my students grow into professionals and leaders in the field.
Dance Mogul: Tell us about Dance NOW! Miami from your perspective?
Hannah Baumgarten: Dance NOW! is a vehicle for our creative expression and our investigation of the contemporary dance form. But beyond that, the organization itself is our pride and joy; an anchor in our community, providing jobs for artists over the past 23 years and hopefully providing entertainment and creating meaning in the lives of those who come to see our work.
Dance Mogul: What advice do you have for the upcoming generation of dancers?
Hannah Baumgarten: Be open. Take ownership.COMMUNICATE! Diego always says: Don’t just take class, Study dance. Take care of your body. Listen and believe that what you are told will help you grow, even if it hurts sometimes.
Dance Mogul: Tell us about your current projects.
Hannah Baumgarten: Dance NOW! is currently engaged in one of its most challenging seasons. We are in the process of reviving a 1974 Joffrey Ballet work, The Relativity of Icarus (Choreographed by Gerald Arpino), that was almost lost to obscurity. The process began over a year ago when Cameron Basden, one of our Artistic Advisors and Repetiteur for the Gerald Arpino Foundation, began researching the piece, meeting with any living members of the original cast, seeking out drawings and models of the striking mirrored set at the NY library for the performing arts, finding images of the costumes, requesting rights to the original score by Gerhard Samuels, and piecing together video to recreate the choreography. This is a behemoth project, and we are excited to let this monster out of the bag this coming May. Audiences will be astounded and moved. Running parallel to this revival, Diego and I are creating a new collaboration: Gli Altri/The Others.
This work will chronicle people passing through a train station where so many kinds of people intersect. The audience will get to know these characters and their backstories, some tragic, some joyous, and others simply insane. I don’t want to say more. We will take the work to Florence, Italy, in July to perform with our friends and colleagues at Opus Ballet, who will add some of their own scenarios to the piece and dance it together at Villa Strozzi, La Limonaia July 1st.
We are also preparing to visit two other US Cities, we will head to St. Louis to perform in the Spring to Dance Festival on May 27, and we are finally heading back to the big apple to make our New York debut in a way that makes us proud: we will be performing with the Limón Dance Company, one of the most prestigious dance organizations in the world, May 3 and 6 at Aaron Davis Hall.
Dance Mogul: What would you like your legacy to be in dance?
Hannah Baumgarten: I would like to be remembered for the work I have created, both by myself and with Diego. I want to be remembered by my students as someone who extended the legacy of the field, but mostly, I hope that Dance NOW! Miami can continue to be a thriving arts organization rooted in the community with a deep commitment to the art form of dance.
Dance Mogul: As a teacher, why is dance education more important than ever?
Hannah Baumgarten: Dance is a challenging discipline with deep roots. Humanity is intertwined with dance as ritual, culture, storytelling, art, and expression. Whatever dance style a person wants to pursue, they should know its background and history, which can only be done, in the studio, with a teacher. Dance is not something that can be learned from books or videos. It must be passed on from individual to individual.
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping you own your journey?
Hannah Baumgarten: Too many to mention. Just know I have pockets full of gratitude…
Dance NOW! Miami Program III
Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 pm in Lake Worth
Friday, May 12 at 8:00 pm in Fort Lauderdale
Saturday, May 13 at 8:00 pm in Aventura
Duncan Theatre 4200 S Congress Ave, Lake Worth, FL
Broward Center for the Performing Arts Amaturo Theater, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, 3385 NE 188th Street, Aventura, FL
For Duncan and Aventura, $50 for reserved seating and $20 for students with valid ID. For Broward, $50 for reserved seating, $20 for students with valid ID, and an early bird special of $25 for all until April 1. Advance tickets for all venues at www.dancenowmiami.org/events/program3.
FOR MORE INFO:
(305) 975-8489 or [email protected]