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Spotlight: Contemporary dancer brings her roots to Sarasota

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  • | 4:00 a.m. March 26, 2014
Drew Jacoby and Medhi Walerski
Drew Jacoby and Medhi Walerski
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Drew Jacoby says the dance world is small. As a United States-born and trained contemporary dancer currently dancing in the Netherlands Dance Theater (NDT) — she has an international network of contacts.
One of those contacts is Robert de Warren. Jacoby first met de Warren, president and CEO of the Sarasota International Dance Festival, in 2010. She performed at the Carreño Dance Festival, which he founded, in 2010 and 2011, and they have maintained contact since. He even visited her once when she was in New York.

When de Warren asked her to put together a one-night program of contemporary dance, she went to the rest of her contacts. Jacoby describes the program as being similar to a big gala featuring international ballet stars, but with a contemporary twist. Coined “Lifted,” the dance program will take place April 15 at Sarasota Opera House. Below is more about the performers featured in the program, and how they became included.

Drew Jacoby and Medhi Walerski
Medhi Walerski also dances with NDT and choreographs for the company. One of the first projects Jacoby had when joining NDT in August 2012 was working with Walerski. They became close friends.

The duo will dance two duets both choreographed by Walerski. Jacoby will also perform a solo piece by choreographer Marco Goecke. Goecke originally made the piece for a dancer in Ballet de Monte Carlo as a gift to Princess Caroline.

Lil Buck with cellist Nina Kotova
Contemporary street dancer Lil Buck will perform a street-dancing piece to a song from “The Dying Swan” ballet. He arrived on the scene with this performance accompanied by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Jacoby and her husband, Joshua Martens, run a dance website, “Dance Pulp,” where they feature video interviews with dancers, directors and choreographers. She had Lil Buck’s contact information because she was planning on interviewing him for her website. She thought he’d be perfect for this program.

Cellist Nina Kotova became involved because she and Jacoby have a future project in the works. The producer of this future project had contacted Lil Buck about a project, completely unrelated to both “Lifted” and the Kotova/Jacoby collaboration. Coincidentally, Jacoby had just asked Lil Buck to perform in “Lifted.”
When Jacoby discovered this coincidence, it inspired the idea that Kotova could play “The Dying Swan” for Lil Buck in the program.

Meredith Webster and David Harvey
Calling her family, Jacoby met Meredith Webster long before they were dancing with San Francisco-based contemporary ballet company Alonzo King’s Lines ballet. They both studied at the same ballet school, Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Harvey joined Lines after Jacoby left. The two dancers will perform work by Alonzo King.

Bryan Arias
In 2007, Jacoby and Arias danced together at Complexions Contemporary Ballet in New York. He also danced at NDT, but left prior to Jacoby’s joining to work with choreographer Crystal Pite and to create his own choreography. Arias will perform one of his pieces as well as a piece by Pite.

Acacia Schachte and Jason Kittelberger

Jacoby has never worked with Schachte or Kittelberger, but they have many mutual friends. Her hope was to add dancers from a contemporary company similar to NDT, but American. These two dancers from New York City-based Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet fit perfectly in her bill.


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