Dance Parade, Inc. is a volunteer supported non-profit organization! It is the dedication, expertise and rhythm of these brave few that are solely responsible for the success of the event and all the background work that goes on all year long leading up to the parade and festival. Every month, we choose a different volunteer to spotlight. We ask them a few questions to let you know who they are, where they’ve come from and where they see themselves in the future. Want to become a volunteer? Click here!
Thank you Rifka for taking time out of your busy schedule to have this chat! We know you have been working hard to gather so many groups and unique styles of dance to join the parade! We have reached our goal of 75 unique styles of dance and counting! Let’s start at the very beginning…
How did you first find out about Dance Parade?
I was looking for volunteering for the arts and I found Dance Parade´s webpage.
What is your current role in Dance Parade?
I´m the Parade Production Coordinator.
What is your favorite style of dance to watch? to participate in?
I love watching contemporary dance which is so subtle and subjective, everytime I can feel differently about it; and I love folkloric dances as well, specially those who represent rituals where humans become something else and aim to explain or answer life´s cycles and uncertainties.
What is your dance background?
I had a few ballet and spanish lessons really young and then for various academic reasons I stopped taking classes but that only made me want to dance more, so I “free-styled” so to speak, and I ended up dancing in every stage I could get myself into during my school and college years. I even made a disco floor in my house, just meant for dancing to any kind of music I wanted to dance to.
But in a more formal way, I did the research, coordination and co-produced a 12 episode TV documentary series about contemporary dance with very well known companies from Mexico and around the world, including Merce Cunningham´s Dance Company Legacy Tour.
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?
Michael Jackson of course. I would be absolutely embarrassed and clumsy but I´m sure it would be insane to dance next to him. I would love to dance with Jack Cole, the “father of jazz dance technique” in the moment he started changing towards his sexy, elegant jazz moves. I also work in an international arts festival and there I have seen some amazing dancers, I would love to collaborate with Kiss & Cry from Belgium (they are hand dance theatre, you have to see them), Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Tao Dance Theater, Teatro Sunil and some of the dancers I met while filming the documentary series like Estelle Clareton and Tania Pérez Salas.
What does this year’s theme “Be The Momentum” mean to you?
Its kind of a “carpe diem” feeling, that I think is becoming more and more popular in our society, only this theme is maybe a bit more responsible, because it not only is “live” the momentum, like live now, but BE it, own it, share, savor, cherish and express it. It’s a powerful thing and it just has to happen and you have to be in it, in order to become it. I love it.
What dance group are you most looking forward to seeing this year in the parade?
Tough question, I am looking forward to seeing so many and I’m not just being diplomatic. During the Dance Parade Showcase we had in March I got a glimpse of very beautiful dances: Mazarte, from my home country with its beautiful attire, Marsha Parrilla Danza Orgánica who I felt were really powerful, Shushi. the very unique Armenian dance, the very beautiful choreographies of Neville Dance Theatre and many more. I really want to see belly dance this year because I adore this happy colorful style, Capoeira which movements I find so attractive; and roller disco (Energy in the Middle), stilts (Mortal Beasts & Deities) and hoop dancers (The Hoop Movement and BlackBird) dancing on Broadway will be very different from anything I’ve seen before, and I´m looking forward to be immersed in the mystery of Middle Eastern, African and Asian dances which are so exotic and intoxicating. And I can hardly wait to see the Toad that Kostume Kult is bringing. Oh and 200 swing dancers! and Tap Unity. I could go on and on.
If you could pick a Grand Marshall for this year’s parade….who would it be?
I think we have not one but three great Grand Marshals for this edition of Dance Parade, a tap Master, a strong amazing woman from the Urban Bushwomen and a Latin, fun and very talented DJ. It’s an amazing mix of talent here. But if we could have more, I would ask Daft Punk and just go wild.
Part of volunteering has a lot to do with strong leadership skills and major teamwork skills….if you were to pick a volunteer of the month…who would you choose?
I would pick Jamila who is coordinating DanceFest, the Dance Festival that happens after the parade. I haven´t had a chance to get acquainted her very well but she seems not only a very beautiful, interesting and kind person, but I believe her to be a very responsible and hard working volunteer as well.
If you could pick another country to hold a Dance Parade and Festival….which would it be?
My country definitively: Mexico! We are very vibrant, happy people that appreciate and art and its representations. And we know how to party! It would last for days!
Volunteering at a non 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?
Well I haven´t been back yet, this is my first year, but I´m sure that if I´m allowed to I will. I think every job (paid or not), and every commitment one makes in life comes with some problems and frustrations, but then it is also much more rewarding if you follow it through. And specially organizations like Dance Parade that have these great community engagement programs make all your efforts worthwhile.
Describe a special memory you have from Dance Parades past?
I don´t yet, at least not from the parade itself. My first memory is standing waiting all alone while it snowed cause no one told me the meeting had been cancelled. Ha ha! don´t publish that. No, really, every time I meet someone new that is excited about this as I am, is a moment that adds up to what May 17th will bring.
What pitch would you use to attract a new volunteer onto the Dance Parade team?
Well I would say come on you won´t regret it, move your … . But then there is something really nice that I want to say as well, to all that are in it now, and all that hopefully will join the team. We are making a change, even if little, in everyone´s lives, we are making everyone enjoy the magic of dance, of letting go, or of taking what you want, of expressing yourselves. Of changing. So I love this phrase by Emma Goldman, a Russian-born American writer, that crossed my mind when thinking about joining Dance Parade:
“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”