In Part 1 of our interview with dancer, teacher, and Dance Iquail Founding Artistic Director Iquail Johnson, we talked about his vision for a dance company with a social mission. In Part 2, we discuss Johnson’s passion for Horton technique, the course of his career, and his plans for the future.
Did you always plan to teach and do choreography, or did that goal develop later on?
Johnson: I always wanted to do everything! I was the kid that hungered for more, who took dance classes outside my regular school, and then would go to high school (Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts) the next day teaching what I had learned the night before. That’s when my interest in teaching started. Simultaneously, I’ve always wanted to start my own dance company that focused on specific types of dance techniques, and I’ve been fortunate enough to start Dance Iquail. Choreography was also something I wanted to learn. That was probably the most difficult part to master for me. I returned to graduate school to obtain a Master’s degree in Choreography to ensure I would be able to create pieces for the company.
What's the company's main choreographic style? You’re especially passionate about Horton technique in regards to teaching. Does that extend to choreography? And what inspired your commitment to that particular style?
Johnson: Dance Iquail is a contemporary dance company, meaning that the principles and themes of the work performed are contemporary in philosophy when compared to modernism, neoclassicism, romanticism, and the like. With that understanding we create and commission works that range in style from ballet to modern dance to contemporary.
In terms of Horton technique, I hold a special passion for it and I am committed its preservations via all possible means. It’s a tremendous training vehicle that I've had an intangible connection with since beginning my training in it in 1997. That love leads me to many teachers of Horton including first both Milton Myers and Faye Snow who taught the technique in two totally different styles. Milton's style is so fluid and “dancey," rhythmical with circular actions that never stop, coupled with his own brand of vocalizing to the beat and movement that inspired us as dancers. Faye Snow's was very technical. She stressed proficiency and consistency. She was concerned with making you strong as an artist so that you could execute with ease, perform the work of any choreographer no matter the style or genre, and most importantly have a bodily instrument that can live with longevity. These two teachers with two different and equally valid approaches to Horton technique gave me my initial love and thirst for it. Horton is a main technique for Dance Iquail’s training along with Graham, release technique, and ballet (Balanchine and contemporary).
Any plans for upcoming events?
Johnson: We are celebrating our fifth anniversary beginning in January 2013 with monthly events spanning 18 months. These events will be held in both Philadelphia and New York City, with planned activities including free studio showings, performances, social events, bowling and poker parties, school tours, performances in senior centers, fall and spring concerts, flash mobs, and more. Additionally, we are excited to have a pre-anniversary kick off with a Performance in NUDANCE at the Riverside Theater in New York City on December 7-9, 2012. As more events are planned we will update our website and on our social media pages, so we encourage everyone to visit www.danceiquail.org, and like/follow us on Facebook twitter, YouTube and Instagram to keep updated on our events!
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