New York City’s cultural range is on the coronary heart of the brand new season of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, a four-time Emmy Award-winning journey dance collection. In the brand new collection, Mallozzi, an expert dancer, and skilled musician, explores the restoration of New York’s culturally numerous communities and celebrates the town’s resiliency in the course of the Covid restoration by way of the therapeutic energy of dance and music, all whereas drumming help for small companies and institutions in native neighborhoods. This not the NYC of guidebooks however an insider’s view. The present collection is airing on NYC Life and begins airing on PBS nationally in June. I caught up together with her not too long ago to ask about this NYC-centric collection.
Everett Potter: Mickela, what was essentially the most sudden factor you realized about NYC’s cultural combine while you filmed this season?
Mickela Mallozzi: I’m at all times pleasantly shocked to see how intently linked everyone seems to be, although New York is without doubt one of the most numerous cities on the earth! When I begin researching dance teams to characteristic or neighborhoods to go to, I begin with one name or one electronic mail, normally to a private good friend or contact. And then it snowballs into this superb community or internet of affection – so many individuals advocate others of their group, and the story simply retains rising organically! I’ve to say, I do love touring the world and filming Bare Feet overseas, however my favourite episodes to supply and movie are proper right here in NYC – it really appears like one, huge dance household right here.
Potter: Your celebration of Black dance in all its kinds is a testomony to how sturdy and multifaceted it’s in NYC. What was your favourite a part of filming that episode?
Mallozzi: I do know this sounds cliché, however each single second of that episode is exclusive in its story and was a unique expertise for me, from interviewing and dancing with the legendary Virginia Johnson of Dance Theatre of Harlem to drumming and dancing with the youngsters of Brooklyn United Marching Band to assembly my very own dance trainer for the primary time since lockdown on the Ailey Extension. All of those experiences have been unforgettable for me. But I’m additionally conscious that each one of those tales are vital to inform. And they don’t seem to be my tales to inform – for this season, I actually wished to provide as a lot house to the folks we characteristic to inform their very own tales, not simply on this episode however in all of the 12 episodes. This Black Voices season premiere actually units the tone for the complete season transferring ahead. And Misty Copeland? I imply, come on! She’s a fan of the present. I nonetheless can’t recover from that!
Potter: One of the episodes that shocked me was native Hawaiian dance tradition in NYC. What are its origins?
Mallozzi: The mission of our Asian American / Pacific Islander episode (Episode #503) is to point out that the AAPI group isn’t a monolith, and I feel that message shines by way of. We begin the entire episode dancing hula in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, which in itself is a melting pot as a borough and as a park! I met with Na Pua Mai Ka Lani Nuioka – the group’s leaders, Tristan and Christopher, themselves aren’t Hawaiian, however they have been guided by their trainer, Kumu Kale Pawai. What actually struck me was their sense of duty to protect their Kumu’s legacy, even after his sudden passing in 2016. The members of the group encompass Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian members, all fanatics of hula, Hawaiian tradition, and the concept of Aloha (love, sympathy, empathy, caring). It’s actually highly effective to see how a lot this follow has touched its members. It was really an honor for me to have the ability to expertise it myself and get a greater understanding of the idea of Aloha.
Potter: How do you suppose that dance helped the assorted communities survive the pandemic, even with the restrictions in place?
Mallozzi: Dance has been folks’s medication by way of the pandemic, together with for myself. What I’m most pleased with is we captured a variety of firsts on this new season, just like the first-time teams have been dancing collectively in particular person once more after over 18 months of attempting to remain linked over Zoom. And the sensation was so palpable, in any respect of those out of doors dance events, dance courses again within the studio, out of doors performances, and extra. Everyone was elated to be collectively once more. Everyone was sharing tears of pleasure to be again within the theater watching a stay efficiency once more. Bare Feet has at all times shared the message that the humanities are important, however I do know after strict lockdown, particularly right here in NYC, we noticed firsthand that the humanities really are important for a group to outlive. Dance really helped maintain folks sane throughout lockdown, however then it additionally helped folks really feel human once more as soon as we have been capable of come collectively in particular person.
Potter: Given the present world state of affairs, have you ever encountered what I think about is a powerful Ukrainian dance tradition in NYC?
Mallozzi: Yes! This new Season 5 is definitely our second season that includes cultural neighborhoods and dance teams throughout the 5 boroughs of NYC (you’ll be able to watch our Season 2, which is 13 episodes on the PBS App or on PBS.org). We did a complete Little Ukraine episode (#207) which encompasses a 3-block space of Manhattan’s East Village. I used to be taken proper into the group, and I used to be capable of share moments of absolute magnificence within the music, heat within the meals and group, and pleasure within the dances. When the invasion of Ukraine first occurred a number of weeks in the past, I do know all of us felt helpless (and nonetheless do), and my fast response was to share this episode on my social channels to remind everybody of the fantastic thing about the Ukrainian tradition and its folks. I used to be shocked to see how that message touched so many individuals so deeply. And for everybody in New York, go to Little Ukraine and help this group, they want our love and help.