I have known Sidra for many years now. We danced together for Nathan Trice Rituals back in the day. I was a newcomer in the troupe and Sidra was one of the first people I met. Sidra is at first very quiet, but if you made her laugh… she was like a different person. It is true she is very intelligent and focused, but she also has a great sense of humor. I loved working with her. Rehearsals were fun with Sidra. Nathan never seemed to notice us giggling in the back…
From the moment she she started her company, Sidra Bell Dance New York, she went for it. Composed music, newly designed costumes, and an amazing website… I remember going to a show in NYC and thinking, “is this a new group or what?” Sidra is a hard worker and she spares no expense for her art. I love that about her. Hey, she inspired me and a lot of freelance artists, to get our s**t together! Her attention to detail is apparent not only in her work, but in the presentation, in the space, and even in the advertising.
Sidra Bell has a BA in History from Yale University and an MFA in Choreography from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance. She is currently an adjunct professor at Barnard College (Columbia University). Sidra has worked with many companies including Ballet Austin, Mystic Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Ailey II, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, The Juilliard School, New York Live Arts Studio Series, and Dance Theater Workshop. Sidra’s work has been seen internationally in Denmark, Austria, Germany, Canada, Aruba, Spain, France, Brazil, and Greece.
Sidra is a sought after master teacher and has taught her unique approach to creative process, improvisation, and technique Contemporary Systems at many prestigious institutions for dance and theater throughout the United States and in Canada.
I continue to run into Sidra all over the world. Her solo, Conductivity, won Second Prize for performance at the Internationales Solo-Tanz-Theatre Festival in Stuttgart. I got to have her and her mother for a fantastic brunch at my house in Stuttgart. It was nice to catch up again. She was actually invited back to Stuttgart for the 2011 Solo-Tanz-Theatre Festival with a new solo Grief Point. where she received First Prize for Choreography and her dancer, Moo Kim, received First Prize for Performance.
Thank you Sidra! You inspire me!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
I wanted to be a visual artist. I always wanted to be a creator of some sort but I didn’t necessarily know it would be in the dance medium. I feel what I do now as a choreographer is very rooted in my childhood interests in visual art and music.
Sidra’s Favorite Things
Things to eat?
Short Cuts by American writer Raymond Carver
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory directed by Mel Stuart
Korper by Sasha Waltz
I like dancers who…
…challenge me and ask questions.
A dance piece should…
…Challenge audiences and propose new questions. Art is the sphere in which we can imagine the impossible. I make work that suggests new realities and identities.
Something you like to do other than dancing?
I love listening to new music. My favorite pastime is spending time with my family and my dog. I enjoy debate, conversation, and working collaboratively with other types of artists.
One of the happiest moments in your life?
One of your most unusual or coolest experiences?
Traveling to Turkey. I never imagined I would travel internationally with my work. I loved the confluence of culture and ideas in Istanbul. One of the most beautiful cities I have visited.
One of the most embarrassing moments in your professional career?
I thought getting a bad review in the press was humiliating at the time but it was a blessing in disguise. It empowered me to stand by my artistic vision.
Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?
My Father. I do not know another artist and teacher with more integrity and passion. He inspires me to stay true to myself no matter what. Witnessing the long term influence he has had on other artists and young people is inspirational. I could only hope to be as generous as he is.
One of the hardest things about being a director/Performer?
Patience and allowing yourself to be vulnerable in your creative practice. Embracing change.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
As a creative but probably in a different sector.
Three words to describe yourself….
…relentless, imaginative, proactive
A question you want to know the answer to:
The meaning of life but I don’t want to know the answer. I want to keep pursuing it.
Dear aspiring artists,
Commit to your passions and your ideas wholeheartedly. Enjoy the process and everything that it includes- the challenges, the obstacles, the limits, the discoveries, and the small steps you take each day as an artist.
– Sidra Bell
Laughing… just as I remember! Photography by Genna Baroni
From Sidra’s Piece “Anthology”. Dancer Troy Olgive. (fellow Juilliard grad) Photography by Jubal Battisti. (Also a Juilliard grad)
Sidra in the studio. Courtesy of Broadway Dance Center.
From Sidra’s piece “House Unrest”. Dancer Alexandra Johnson. We went to SUNY Purchase together! Photography by Jubal Battisti
Photography by Bill Shirley.
Sidra’s Shy side. Photography by Philip Habib
Have you seen Sidra Bell Dance New York? Share your stories in the comments! For more information on Sidra and workshops, events, and performances please visit www.sidrabelldanceny.org
Main photo : © Katherine Mills Rymer
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