Jacqueline Cohen Sounds Off!

What happens on Dance Parade day once the dancers get going? Well, lots of dance means music too. That’s where Jacqueline comes in – our newest addition to the Dance Parade team – Sound Czar! At the Dance Parade, Jacqueline uses her handy-dandy-decibel-device to check sound levels for each group and make sure that everyone is in compliance with neighborhood noise ordinances. Jacqueline knows how to get people to do what they are supposed to do – in a nice way – and turn down the sound when it gets too loud!

How did you first find out about Dance Parade?  

I found out about DANCE PARADE because I belong to the house music dance community. Luis Vargas, who is vibrantly active in the house music community, invited me to dance in the House Coalition Float in the very first Dance Parade in 2007.

What is your current role in Dance Parade, Inc? 

My current role in the Dance Parade is the Sound Czar. I lead a team of sound monitors and use a decibel reader to ensure our parade and festival audio systems are within reasonable levels determined by the organizers and area residents.

What is your favorite style of dance to watch? To participate in? 

I love to mix it up.   I enjoy being a part of a fusion of styles such as Hustle, House, Locking, acrobatics, and cultural dances.  It’s entertaining to watch contemporary modern with Ariel /acrobatic styles. When there is a story behind the dance that incorporates intricate challenging movement that makes it more interesting to me.

What is your dance background or interest in dance? 

My dance background started during late 80’s in the underground club scene, where I danced to disco classics, house and funk and anything soulful..  Mostly, I loved to spin, dive and flip all over the dance floor.   Over the years, I studied various styles of dance such as ballet, modern, Dunham technique, Brazilian, African, Capoeira, house, Waacking, Vogue, hustle and the Ariel arts.  Nowadays, I mostly train in Chinese Pole, trapeze, contortion, and hustle dance.  I feel most free when I am dancing freestyle at a club or outdoor event where I may incorporate many of the styles I have learned or created.  I just get lost in the music and vibe with the other dancers.


If you could share the stage with anyone in history famous or not, living or deceased, a trained dancer or not, performing a routine choreographed by yourself…who would it be? 

I would have loved to choreograph and dance a magnificent routine as a solo act for Tina Turner.  I just love Tina Turner.  She is a fearless leader who has faced many obstacles and through it all she is a phenomenal woman. On stage, she executes, passion, hope, excitement and fiyah in her music and her dance.   She is all about strength and being free on stage and in life.

What does this year’s theme “Dance for Peace” mean to you? 

This year’s theme, Dance for Peace, meant that everybody was in unity expressing our hope for positive change in the world, our unconditional love for each other as human beings, and the respect we show for humanity through the art of dance.  As dancers, we express these values in many different forms, in different languages, through different music, and in the wide variety of motions that comprise the world of dance. Yet, despite these differences, we are all synchronized with the same message of peace throughout the world.

What dance group or dance style are you most looking forward to seeing this coming year in the parade?

I would like to see Dance Trapeze/Ariel movement dance styles in the next year for the Dance Parade.

If you could pick another country to hold a Dance Parade and Festival….which would it be?  

I would love to see the Dance Parade and Festival take place in Israel.

Volunteering at a not-for-profit organization can at times be daunting and frustrating with limited personnel and limited funding….what is it that keeps you coming back for more and more?

This was my first time volunteering for the Dance Parade and I had the best experience.  I was the designated Sound Czar. Taking on this leadership role, I realized that this meant adhering to law enforcement rules and respecting the community while making sure everyone had a great time. It’s not easy asking someone to turn down the music or shut it off. Everyone is attached to their own sound and I found that I had to think about how what it is like on the other side as the performer. While doing this, I also found myself taking on other roles; the promoter, the motivator, the organizer, the mediator, the dancer, the enlightener, the leader, and the entertainer. I enjoyed meeting so many people and all the conversations I had with people – even those that I haven’t seen in a while. I got so much good feedback about what I did.  I thought that was interesting because I didn’t think I would be noticed – especially with the thousands of people performing in the Dance Parade, working in the Dance Parade, and the people watching. There were times I initially sensed some groups were disappointed when they learned that their sound had to be turned off and expressed that things were different this year.  However, I know that with my bubbly and charismatic personality and sense of humor, I was able to keep the peace and make people happy.

It’s so amazing how generous and thoughtful people really are at the Dance Parade. 
I really do appreciate the Dance Parade leaders for allowing me to take on such an important role in the parade and giving me the space to take on the role in my own way. 
 I am grateful for the leaders of the Parade, (Greg, John, Jessii and so many more) for allowing me to be me. I appreciate all the volunteers and felt there were so helpful and encouraging.  I learned so much about myself through this journey and am grateful that I have all of you.  I am looking forward to working with all of you next year.  Every year we can grow and evolve to be something new and exciting.

Describe a special memory you have from Dance Parades past?    Can I pick two? Can I pick three?

Can I pick two? Can I pick three? 🙂   One of my special memories in the Dance Parade was when I danced in the first dance parade in New York City with the House Coalition in 2007.  I have so many memories dancing with all of my friends and entertaining the crowd; especially passing Union Square and then going down 8th Street. There were so many dancers and the energy was amazing.   My friend, John the Dance Man and I always put on a high energetic show with our Vogue styles. I had a blast.

My other special memory was working as the Sound Czar for the Dance Parade of 2017.  I remember a moment where there was a participant that seemed distressed about a particular situation. I was able to use my wacky sense of humor to cheer her up and find a solution to her dilemma, which put her at ease and made her smile.

One thing that was special for me was that this year was first year I saw the beginning of the Dance Parade, where Mestre João Grande of Capoeira Angola Center in NYC was honored as a Grand Marshal.  Learning Capoeira from Mestre João Grande meant a lot to me because this had really changed my way of dancing and interacting on the dance floor. Capoeira kept me grounded spiritually and artistically.

Another special moment I had was when a young person told me that she really loved my pink hair, and that it made her feel that she can look different too and not feel out of place.  I am happy she felt that she could express herself.  That is what the Dance Parade is about; freedom of expression through art, though music, though speech and though movement with no judgment.