Skybetter and Associates visited the Dance Teen Reviewers and Critics at their New York Live Arts home after Skybetter’s production of “For Want of Sleep” at the Joyce Soho. Jordan Isadore, dancer and collaborator, and Sydney Skybetter, artistic director fill us in on how they got from there to here and what it is to be a working artist today.
On Jordan Isadore:
Now, this is interesting.
Jordan Isadore is a Northern California boy whose mom suggested that he become involved in dance. It is rare that dancers have full support from their parents, let alone for mom or dad to recommend pursuing the art form. But Isadore tells us he was a hyperactive kid and his mom really wanted him to keep busy.
Isadore went to high school and college for dance, facing hours upon hours of intensive training. He was most influenced by his college instructor, Keith Johnson, a former Doug Varone dancer who performs and creates with his own company in California. “He was open to dance and he encouraged us to be who we are as individuals, as well as to be honest about what we do,” says Isadore.
Not only does Isadore dance, but he is also connected to the dance world through blogging and knowing the business aspects of dance. Recently videography caught his interest and now he plays around with that as his dancing schedule allows.
Just then Sydney Skybetter enters our classroom and I immediately notice his messy, yet just right hair, as well as his nerdy but prescription glasses. We are all excited to see the master behind the choreography we experienced last week at The Joyce Soho.
What is dance life like working for Sydney Skybetter?
Isadore claims when they are in the studio, it isn’t much of a business. They are all friends, a small family, who work together to create something out of what Skybetter dictates.
Yes, I said dictates. Skybetter recently moved to Washington D.C. after years of living in Brooklyn. This prevents him from being in the studio with his dancers all the time. To adjust to the distance from his company he uses Skype to help him choreograph, or as Skybetter jokes, “Dance through faxing.”
Skybetter is confident in his dancers and trusts them to make decisions on the New York studio because they have all worked together for a long period of time. Isadore mentions that the company constantly tries to figure out how to work without Skybetter. He says, “We come into the studio and think, ‘What would Sydney do?'” That gets a laugh out of the choreographer. One can tell that Isadore and Skybetter are good friends by the way they laugh and share inside jokes throughout their time with us.
But who is Sydney Skybetter, the man behind the hair, the glasses and the great choreography?
He started out as an “awkward embarrassing” high school student, then attended Columbia University, and finally New York University where he received his BFA in Dance and later his MFA. Aside from working with his company, this artist teaches undergraduates at NYU what to do in order to graduate and what to do afterwards. He’s involved with social media through discussions on Facebook and Twitter, and believes it is necessary to connect his work to modern technology.
We talk colleges, family, (Skybetter and his wife just have new baby boy in their house), the awesomeness of Brooklyn, and dance.
Before he leaves, Skybetter shares one last piece of wisdom. “Stay connected within your community.” He recommends as growing dancers, potential dancers, and pre-professional dancers, we should stay connected even if we don’t choose to go down the pathway of dance. He says, “Nowadays, the dance world exists mainly through connections. If your dance contact list isn’t long enough, then you better get out there and join some dance programs!”
I mention my passion for dance but deep interest in science along with my confusion of what I want to become. Skybetter and Isadore inform me of the desperate demand for dance doctors who understand the injuries, pains, and questions about how to make the dance body stronger. They give me a list of possibilities of combining dance and academics: physical therapy, dance law, dance scholarship. I feel so enlightened by these ideas for careers. I didn’t even know they were out there.