In each issue of our STEPS! Newsletter we try to cast the Spotlight on one of our awesome team members to find out more about where they came from and to suss out their connection to dance and supporting the Dance Parade team. In this issue, we put the spotlight on Mona Freeman.
Hi, Mona. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.
How did you first find out about Dance Parade?
I saw a posting on LinkedIN last year and was intrigued by the idea of a dance parade.
I love to create, direct and produce crowd pleasing entertainment and this seemed like a good match.
I sent a connection request to Greg Miller, the Executive Director of the nonprofit that produces Dance Parade, stating that I wanted to know more about the Dance Parade. However, I was not able to be a part of it in 2018.
This season, when the volunteer committee was looking for people to join, I answered the call!
What is your current role in Dance Parade New York?
I am on the Curation Committee, planning the Dance Festival which will take place in Tompkins Square Park following the parade. I am currently watching through videos of dance performances to decide where they will be placed in the festival. I will then be coordinating the groups who will be presented on the family stage. The family stage will be presenting most of the groups that are made up of youngsters. I have previously presented dozens of performances with a cast of hundreds of children as young as three years old through teens.
What is your favorite style of dance to watch? to participate in?
Musical Theater and Ballet. When I began my dance training, I was influenced by the Broadway show A Chorus Line and the movie The Turning Point. I’ve studied numerous forms of dance, but ballet is what keeps me coming back because there is always something new to achieve.
What is your dance background or interest in dance?
My first formal dance lesson was at the age of thirteen. I was a high school gymnast and joined a ballet class in order to supplement my skills. I soon realized that I enjoyed ballet far more than gymnastics. I studied Dance Education at New York University and established a private dance studio shortly after graduation. I directed and taught students three years old through adults in Ballet, Tap, Jazz for over three decades.
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?
Gene Kelly, he made it look effortless. I would dance with him in the ballet presented at the end of An American In Paris. It’s a classic and doesn’t need any improvement.
Last year we celebrated the repeal of the Cabaret Law with the theme “The Cabaret of Life” — What does this year’s theme “Movement of the People ” mean to you?
Dance has been a means of expression since the beginning of time. For some people it is a cultural experience, for others it is a social experience, and there are those who bring dance to the stage for artistic expression or purely to entertain. With Dance Parade New York, we celebrate all of these dancers.
What dance group or dance style are you most looking forward to seeing this coming year in the parade?
I am looking forward to seeing the community engagement groups who will be performing on the family stage. With these programs in schools and community centers throughout NYC, these youngsters and senior citizens have been exposed to something new. They learn tangible skills in movement and expression as well as intangible ones like confidence and team building. The final project of being in the parade and festival brings all this together. Some of them may be involved in dancing for the first time, or possibly since a long time ago. This is a wonderful experience for them, I want to share their joy!
If you could choose a Grand Marshal for this year’s parade….who would it be?
I would choose Rhee Gold. He is a source of motivation and encouragement for dance teachers and studio owners in the private sector. Rhee’s mother was a dance teacher. Rhee and his twin brother Rennie grew up in that world. Thousands of students attend dance classes each week where they not only learn dance technique, they learn life’s lessons.
Working for a non profit organization can at times be daunting and frustrating with limited personnel and funding….what is it that keeps you coming back for more and more?
When you are working on something that has personal meaning for you, the struggle is worth the trouble. I support the mission of Dance Parade: to promote dance as an expressive and unifying art form by showcasing all forms of dance, educating the general public about the opportunities to experience dance, and celebrating diversity of dance in New York City by sponsoring a yearly city-wide dance parade and dance festival.
What pitch would you use to attract a new volunteer onto the Dance Parade team?
If you love dance and the unbridled freedom of dancing in the streets, you need to join us!
Thanks Mona–Folks who want to volunteer can click here to fill out our short form!