You’ve met Carla and read more about her blog, Ballet To The People which was chosen as THE Top Dance Blog of 2011.
Readers vote in our contest and the race for that top slot was very, very close. Less than 20 votes separated the top two, and both blew the rest of the competition out of the water with over 700 votes each!
Generous spirit that she is, Carla offered to share her spotlight article with Enforced Arch, a blog and project spearheaded by James Koroni. But when each of these unique Top Dance Blogs deserves its own feature, why make ’em share the spotlight?
So without further ado, James Koroni talks about the unique community he launched in November of 2010.
DA: What is Enforced Arch?
James Koroni: Enforced Arch is a dance and performance community of intelligent communicators who use their unique talents to bring life to environmental and social issues.
Each member of the community takes it upon themselves to stand against current injustices. They utilize transmedia and performance art to shed light on crucial issues. Its members are called compassionate ‘Movers.’ This title means that they focus much of their creative energy producing effective and unique ways to express their vision, gain community support and create awareness for various topics.
DA: Tell us a little about your dance background.
JK: I began dancing at The Edge in Los Angeles. My mentors there were Kitty McnNamee, Ryan Heffington, Erica Sobel, Bobby Newberry, Dante, Anes, Tovaris Williams, Bill Prudich, Denise Leitner Terri Best and Frank Williams.
I started at Santa Monica College where I studied ballet with Cati Jean and Charlotte Richards. Then, later I moved to New York to train at Broadway Dance Center. My mentors were, and still are, Luam, Sheryl Murakami, Derek Mitchell, Shaik, Brice Mousset, La Jon, Dana Foglia, Josh Bergasse, David Marquez, Shelia Barker, Joshua Pelatzky and Ginger Cox.
I have always been a performing artist. Prior to my adult life I was a singer. I was president of the High School choir and in a band in High School named Sway, at which point I had never taken a dance class. This was absurd, considering I couldn’t keep still when music was playing!
I began dancing at 19 only after I auditioned for Disney and they asked me to do a double pirouette. I thought, what’s that?
I obviously didn’t get the call back and immediately I could be found in Frank Williams’ Jazz class three times a week and in ballet classes five times a week for the next 6 months until I was ready to progress. I just couldn’t stop and here I am now.
DA: Why did you create the Enforced Arch community?
JK: All my life I have had a strong desire to sing, dance and entertain everyone. All of which was an attempt to brighten someones day.
As an adult I went through two devastating losses -- each breathing new life into my love of performance art -- -- the death of my brother and later the loss of my father who both died of cancer.
It wasn’t until I felt the severity of my fathers illness that I knew I needed to change my own life. After he died I sought the truth behind the causes for cancer and I found an abundance of resources, including The China Study, linking many causes of cancer to our diets. This sent me on a a course of research that changed my life forever. The first step I took was adopting a vegan lifestyle, not only for my brother & father, but also for my health, the environment, and all of the animals suffering for our dinners. This discovery has filled my life with great intention.
Every moment following that day has contained yet another opportunity to inspire change through my lifestyle and as a dancer/choreographer. Dancers have a unique ability to speak to others and I value those who use this talent to create awareness.
I felt that there must be others out there with similar stories and interests that could use a supportive community of like-minded individuals. This is why I created the Enforced Arch community. It lives as a platform for compassionate performing artists to express themselves and promote their cause.
DA: What are some ways dancers are using their position as artists to make a difference?
JK: I could go through them all one by one because I have found a profound group of compassionate ‘Movers’ but I’ll try to mention just a few.
In 2008 Nicole Johnson, a dancer and choreographer, launched her production company, Javanna Productions, and presented an effort entitled M.O.V.E which stands for Motivation Opportunity Vision Entertainment. Javanna Productions’ M.O.V.E. is raising funds and awareness for the need for education in rural parts of the world. Nicole is working with the Bernie Krisher Rural School Project Foundation to build a school in rural Cambodia within the next two years. Since 2008 M.O.V.E. has raised money and awareness for organizations like Autism Speaks, QSAC, Children of Uganda, Church Of Christ in Ghana and the Fivers Foundation.
Tonya Kay owns two green businesses, Happy Mandible, Inc and Solid Hollywood, LLC, and believes that creating the world you wish to live in starts with the individual, but does not stop there. Sshe is a philanthropist, generously donating to the Performing Animal Welfare Society, NORML, The Serengeti Foundation, The Tree People, The Witch’s Voice, Center for Biological Diversity and reforestation projects via CarbonFund.org. She has traveled 18 countries to volunteer her physical body to the preservation and protection of endangered species including the Asian elephant at Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park and the sea turtle at Costa Rica’s PETROMA.
Lastly, I’d like to mention Tracey Katof who has recently become the PR Director of Enforced Arch. Tracey has contributed choreography and performed for both stage and video productions. She has collaborated as a dancer and choreographer with HBO award-winning comedian Rebecca Drysdale for her video contribution to the It Gets Better Project. She contributed her choreography to an Anti-Fur performance piece that was featured in Paris at La Bellevilloise, at Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward Art gallery, and in a fashion magazine called PINNACLE Reinvent the Icon. Tracey is also the choreographer for the upcoming Off-Broadway production of Lemon Meringue which tells the story of one mans recovery from Childhood sexual abuse.
As you can see these individuals all deserve their own spotlight and this is why Enforced Arch lives and breathes. I admire, am inspired, and look forward to sharing the efforts of these compassionate artists day after day!
DA: How do dance and ethics align?
JK: Dance is a physically, mentally and emotionally demanding lifestyle. It seems overwhelming at times giving way to cultural disconnect. Without occasionally tapping into a larger reality we allow those in power to justify things that we as individuals would not be okay with. They thrive on our apathy which is why it is extremely important to be aware and become an effective catalyst for action.
In order to do this we need to ask ourselves: Is this society ideal for every member contributing and am I in a position to help those who suffer? Where does my food come from and at what cost? What are my clothes made of and who made them? With this knowledge you will learn what part you play and discover what powers you have to give back respectively.
Dancers will find great value for their talent, technique and tools when they understand the power it holds. Dance is an energy, a life force, a discipline and a focus. When we channel this, we turn heads and call attention to specific ideas.
In a world of social media distractions there is very little that will cause a rumble in our society but dance compels others to take action because dance is action.
DA: So dance can communicate in ways that other artistic forms cannot?
JK: Yes! Rather than people being lectured, dance communicates raw emotions and allows those witnessing its power to have a visceral experience -- specifically with ambassadors to the individuals to which its content is committed.
Dance is a universal language that transcends words and becomes a form of expression available to everyone present to experience it’s grandeur.
DA: How can dancers help animals?
JK: There are a lot of terrible things happening in the world and, while it might seem overwhelming to solve these problems, one effective way to help is to be aware of what we eat and what we wear on our bodies.
Many of the Enforced Arch members have adopted a plant based diet and vegan lifestyle to avoid cruelty, improve their health and reduce green house gas emissions.
Animals that our society have deemed to be food or clothing are 99% of the time coming from factory farms. With a growing demand for animal commodities we have institutionalized agriculture with no consideration for any sentient beings who have a will to live or at what carbon footprint this kind of farming creates.
Agriculture is the basis for human development but our path towards a more intensive farming system has run rampant in developed nations. It’s growth has lead to increased risk of global warming to which the United Nations has called for a worldwide shift to a plant based diet. Their findings state that livestock is the leading cause of green house gas emissions which inevitably causes global warming. In fact if you combined every form of transportation into one, livestock would still be the single greatest cause of global warming.
In addition, many of Enforced Arch’s ‘Movers’ avoid purchasing animal textiles such as leather or fur. On average it takes 100 chinchillas to make one fur coat.
It’s remarkable to see people still purchasing it with so many warm and cruelty free alternatives available to us.
An example of the Enforced Arch community efforts is its performance piece called Please, Don’t Touch which depicts the unfortunate lives of animals caught up in the fur trade.
When it was invited to be performed in Paris during Fashion week of Fall 2011, I rejoiced in the fact that so much time and effort was finally beginning to pay off.
To make these cruelty-free alternatives more accessible for compassionate ‘Movers’ the Enforced Arch community has created a resource for dancers who wish to avoid animal textiles and seek plant based nutrition. These resource pages can be found on the Enforced Arch website under the titles: Fuel and Essentials.
DA: At Enforced Arch, artists can submit video and events to be featured. What are some other ways dancers or dance-makers can get involved (online or off)?
JK: Being involved often requires understanding and confronting complex issues that many people often find overwhelming or upsetting. We’re aware that Enforced Arch is not for everyone. It’s only for dancers who are prepared to channel concepts that require emotional security and strength of character. At the same time, dancers are capable, if only they had the right motivation.
We welcome involvement from writers, dancers, choreographers, video artists, costume designers, makeup artists, non-profit organizations, dance companies, etc. We encourage all professional, creative and ambitious artists, to step forward and introduce themselves to our community. Our creative team is inspired by its members and we support them as their media platform.
The one thing all of it’s members or ‘Movers’ have in common, is the belief that performance art has great potential to make change.
Contact us at EnforcedArch@gmail.com. Tell us about yourself, share your story.
If you regularly dancing to create awareness you might be asked to become a ‘Mover’ at which point you would keep us up to date on your upcoming projects and we’ll write about them.
We receive invitations from all over the U.S., and more recently around the world, asking for choreographers and dancers. When these opportunities arise we hold auditions or seek talent from within our community.
The possibilities are endless.
DA: Any final thoughts, James?
JK: Sometimes no words can speak the language of atrocity. Dancers are fluent in a dialect that is crucial to communicating emotional experiences that are necessary for making social change. Enforced Arch is dedicated to inspiring and supporting dancers that explore this talent.
Enforced Arch will present a two-night limited engagement April 6th & 7that Manhattan Movement & Arts Center where they will be presenting their latest work, ‘ALLIANCE’ Art & Activism. A collection of past and new works honoring the ‘ALLIANCE’ of art and activism, these performances mark the first presentation of works by creative directors, James Koroni and Tracey Katof. For ticket information visit http://www.enforcedarch.com/tickets/ or to interview James Koroni and Tracey Katof, please contact them at (323) 376-0050 or email them at EnforcedArch@gmail.com.
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.