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Art of Motion Dance Theatre Performs at TEDMED

By Gary Wien

TEDMED is the medical edition of the famous TED conference. It is dedicated to "ideas worth spreading" and held in two cities (Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA) each year. This past September, Art of Motion Dance Theatre (AOMDT) out of Ridgewood, NJ, was one of 50 organizations selected from a list of over 1,600 to perform during TEDMED. Originally, it was going to be just a single piece, but the dance troupe wound up playing a role throughout the conference, which simulcasted their performance to over 140 countries. And it all came about because a teacher made a memorable difference in someone's life.

AOMDT Artistic Director Lynn Needle had a Pilates and yoga student named Stacy Lu about 7 years ago. Lu had a little girl who was interested in ballet and began studying with the faculty at Art of Motion, Inc. Needle knew Lu was a freelance writer for the New York Times, but when she moved to Washington, DC, the two lost touch until Needle received a call from out of the blue.

Lu said she was the blog writer for TEDMED and had nominated them for the conference. Her boss had seen their sizzle reel and loved how their repertory programs were a good fit for the breakout sessions planned for the conference. With each connection, the two seemed to be an even better match. Needle decided to push the envelope and told Lu's boss, "These are basically pop-up performances. Why don't we just kind of pop-up and be a surprise throughout TEDMED?"

The gamble worked. TEDMED loved the idea of the unpredictability of the surprise performances. And then she surprised Needle by asking, "Can you perform at the Library of Congress as well? We have a party there and would like you to appear as butterflies."

Needle invited her to company rehearsal where she saw most of their repertory. The company's work includes classical, modern, and street dancers performing original theatrical works by Needle (former soloist of the Nikolais Dance Theatre) and Olivia Galgano, former Principal of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo inspired by earthly and imaginary worlds. She was then offered the opportunity to curate and select the pieces that she wanted to be performed.

From the opening cocktail party on the roof of the Kennedy Center throughout the conference, it was an amazing experience for the company. At the opening party, they met Jay Walker, the curator and chairman of TEDMED who is best known as the founder of Priceline. The following night, they took part in an special dinner party for the TEDMED participants at the Library of Congress. Since this was on 9/11 in the Capitol, security was very tight so attendees had to go through the equivalent of an airport security check before entering. AOMDT members greeted attendees on line and performed as butterflies. This was to serve as a visual decoy to help people pass the time and enjoy the setting rather than get frustrated that they were simply waiting in line. Once everyone had entered, the dance members morphed and returned in their Shakti and praying mantis costumes and interacted with the guests as performance artists. The next day they performed at the Eisenhower Theatre.

They continued to play a role in the conference by teaching warmup exercises to calm down the scientists and doctors before they went on stage.

"Here are these people that work in the medical and research field and they have to have hair and makeup done and go out and speak with a 6 camera shoot simulcasted to 146 countries," explained Needle. "So, I did these little backstage exercises with them to try to help them be centered before they went on stage."

While the trip sounds perfect so far, Needle did encounter a stumbling block or two. Most noticeably when one of her street dancers slipped and fell off the stage during a performance the night before arriving. He tried hiding the accident from her, but his swollen knee gave it away. Thankfully, they were able to take advantage of the situation — they were in an area with some of the best medical people in the world.

"I had an acupuncturist show up out of nowhere and give him a treatment so he was able to get through the performance," Needle recalled. "It was pretty remarkable. I actually had to change a lot of the choreography the night before to accommodate his knee because he could not put weight on it at all."

The whole experience was very special to Needle, whose father was a doctor and who herself started college taking pre-med classes. She might very well have ended up on the other side of the stage if it wasn't for an internship she had as a sophomore. As a 19 year old, she interned in Colorado for three weeks working with paraplegics, quadriplegics, and inmates who had had strokes in prison. A mixup of paperwork had them believing that Needle was older and more experienced than she actually was. They thought she was already going into medical school, when she had already begun moving towards a major in dance.

"They exposed me to all of these things in a hospital setting; gun shot wounds and working with 17 men that had just lost their range of motion from the neck and waist down. I was overwhelmed at the enormity and the reality of working in a medical therapeutic environment as a dancer. I realized that I wanted to move more into the performing arts while I was still young enough to explore that and I could always move to the medicinal and healing component later on when I was older. So it was very close to me to have this opportunity at TEDMED to make an impact in the medical community as a dancer."

Photo by Jared Harris, TEDMED 2014.

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New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble To Perform The Nutcracker On Sunday
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble, a pre-professional training and performing company for young dancers based in downtown Summit, will host a free community story time event of their holiday production The Nutcracker at NJDTE Studios at 315B Springfield Ave in Summit on Sunday, November 18, at 4:00pm.
New Jersey Ballet To Perform Its Annual Holiday Classic at Mayo
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) --  New Jersey Ballet's seasonal presentation of the holiday classic Nutcracker comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center for 14 performances beginning Friday, December 14 at 7:30pm and ending on Thursday, Dec. 27 at 1:00pm. New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will provide live orchestral accompaniment. Tickets range from $29-69.  
Rowan Percussionists and Dancers To Share The Stage
(GLASSBORO, NJ -- The Rowan Percussion Ensemble features an original dance piece as part of its fall semester concert on Monday, November 19 at 8:00pm in Pfleeger Concert Hall. Under the direction of Dr. Matthew Witten, the ensemble will present a collaboration with choreographer and performer Melanie Stewart, associate dean of the College of Performing Arts at Rowan, on a dance piece set to John Cage’s “Credo in Us.” The work, developed in collaboration with California-based performer, choreographer, and educator Lorelei Bayne, will feature 18 Rowan students.
Roxey Ballet Enters 25th Year Of Presenting The Nutcracker For The Holidays
(EWING, NJ) -- Roxey Ballet will present its 25th Annual American Holiday Classic "Nutcracker" from November 24-December 2 at The College of New Jersey's Kendall Main Stage Theater. This acclaimed annual holiday event has become a favorite tradition of area residents and visitors alike. Both adults and children marvel at the magical spectacle created by the collective vision of Mark and Melissa Roxey, founders of both The Roxey Contemporary Ballet and The Mill Ballet School. It's the perfect way to begin the holiday season.  
AC Ballet Kicks Off The 2018 Holiday Season With It’s A Shore Holiday
​​​​​​​(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- This Thanksgiving weekend the Atlantic City Ballet will be bringing back It’s A Shore Holiday to help kick off the holiday season. It’s A Shore Holiday blends classical and contemporary dance set to beloved holiday tunes. This “Radio City-esque” review will feature the AC Ballet Professional company along with live singers and a six piece band. Performances will take place on Saturday, November 24th at 7:00pm in Circus Maximum Theater (inside Caesars Hotel) in Atlantic City and Sunday, November 25th at 3:00pm in the Stafford Township Arts Center in Manahawkin.

Dracula: The Atlantic City Ballet LIVE! at Lakewood’s Strand Theater
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Swan Lake: The Atlantic City Ballet LIVE! at The Strand Lakewood
On Saturday, September 22, 2018, The Atlantic City Ballet presented their version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake at The Strand Theatre in Lakewood, NJ. Featuring spellbinding choreography by Phyllis Papa, the talented members of the ACB transported an enthusiastic audience of all ages to another world, and Love Imagery was on hand to capture the magic in this photo-essay.
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Trust me when I tell you that the Kennedy Dancers do it all. No joke. The company, which is based in Jersey City and was founded in 1976 by Artistic Director Diane Dragone, is a professional dance company (performing all manner of styles), a pre-professional training company, a dance school and a producer of a television show.

Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm

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