Interview met Dan Karaty

Interview met Dan Karaty

Op dinsdag 23 april hebben bestuursleden Bart en Haico een telefonisch interview gehouden met Dan Karaty. We konden na 14.00 uur bellen, omdat Dan in Amerika was. 

Bart: Hi, Dan. How are you? We’re with the three of us. Thank you for your time.

Dan: Yeah, no problem.

Bart: I’d like to introduce us a little bit so that you know who we are. We are board members of Dansondernemers Nederland. That’s a sector organization for dance studios and dance professionals. And we try to represent their interests. 

Alle dansscholen hebben onlangs een mail ontvangen van het National Ballet of China over een groot spektakel in het Abe Lenstra stadion in Heerenveen. Dan Karaty gaat workshops geven en een openingsact voorbereiden. Wij vonden dit een interessant onderwerp en een leuke aanleiding om Dan Karaty te interviewen.

Bart: Dancestudios have received a newsletter from the National Ballet of China. It said that you are going to do some workshops. Is that correct?

Dan: Yeah, that’s correct.

Bart: How can people join these workshops and will you make a selection? 

Dan: When we were discussing how we were going to start the show, which is on June 6th, 7th and 8th for the National Ballet of China we decided we should create an opening act for younger dancers to take the opportunity. I mean, we’re going to have this amazing stage built in a stadium. How often do dancers get to perform in a stadium? So we said, let’s take this opportunity and give a chance for young aspiring dancers to be able to get up on the stage and perform.

Once we decided that, we said, well, how should we select dancers? And we said, why don’t we turn this into a really great experience for them and start with holding a couple workshops in a couple different places and for free just inviting any dancers who want to come sign up and just be a part of it and learn some dance and also have some Q&A kind of time where they can ask questions and all that and just basically try to build a day of inspiration for the dancers. And then from those workshops, we’re going to select somewhere around 40 or 50 dancers that we’ll rehearse with for a handful of days and create a really nice opening show for the National Ballet of China. 

Haico: So where are you looking for specifically? Are there certain styles that you want? Do you want a wide variety of styles or are you looking for personality? What’s the thing that you’re looking for? 

Dan: So funny, a little bit of everything, right? So we obviously wanted it to be a really nice show as opposed to just a dance showcase. So we are looking for performers who have a really great personality on the stage. But at the same time, we kind of want a little bit of a mix. I wouldn’t say that we want hip-hop. You know, some urban feel kind of dancers. We want contemporary dancers. We’re going to create about a 15 to 20 minute opening act with all different types of music. So it’s going to allow us to kind of just be as creative as we can and want to be and use the dancer’s strengths.

So if we happen to have a whole bunch of dancers come to these workshops that are great at one thing in particular, we will use that in their performance. But if they’re great at contemporary dance or jazz dance, we’ll make sure we incorporate that as well. So we’re going to choreograph something that really helps the dancers look great.

Bart: Well, we were asked to encourage dance studios to send their students to these workshops. What can we tell them? 

Dan: They’re going to have an opportunity to learn from a few top choreographers from the Netherlands. And it’s all for free. It’s an opportunity to learn just to be around other dancers, which is always great, just to be in that environment. And if they want to have the opportunity to perform on a stadium stage in front of 14,000 people, I mean, that’s a huge experience for a dancer.

So I know when I was younger, that’s something I would have jumped at that opportunity. This is a free opportunity to learn, to be a part of the community, and also to perform if you want. 

Haico: Do you already know who the choreographers will be? 

Dan: I’m speaking to a couple different people, so I don’t want to say anything just yet until we have the deal done. But it’s a couple people that I’ve worked with for years over in the Netherlands who are very good at what they do. 

Haico: And how about yourself? What’s the style that you’re most comfortable in, and what do you really like to teach yourself when you’re teaching such a group of dancers? 

Dan: Oh, man. Yeah, I would say I’m more lean towards jazz and maybe a little bit of a street urban style. That’s kind of where my strengths lie, and I think where my passion still is for dancing myself. So, yeah, that’s probably what I would be digging into the most. 

Haico: So, you’re a big inspiration for a lot of dancers, and that’s also what you’re going to bring now. A lot of inspiration that seems to be a big core drive of you. Now, I’m very curious, what is your own inspiration? 

Dan: I consider myself incredibly fortunate for what I get to do for a living. You know, that for all these years, I was able to first dance and then choreograph and then kind of spread that experience on television. Just to see so many young dancers now and how good they are at such a young age, that’s what inspires me. It’s like, no matter what show I’m doing or what television show I’m doing or what show I go see or even things I see on TikTok and YouTube, to see how much talent there is out there at such a young age, that’s inspiring to me.

And so to try to give them places that they can perform, showcase their talent, you know, that’s what drives me every day. 

Haico: And is that the moment that you experience ultimate glory? 

Dan: Oh, yeah, I think so. You know, it’s like the days of me wanting to be up there and perform, you know, it’s like I’m very grateful for what I got to do. But those days are over. It’s passing that opportunity on to younger people now. And yeah, that is ultimate glory for sure.

Haico: Yeah, I feel you in that one. And that’s also the name of the act, right? Inspiration and Glory.

Dan: That’s correct. And so that’s kind of where all this came from in the beginning when they first asked me to be a part of it, they explained that this is what we’re trying to do. We do this for younger dancers and give them the opportunity. That’s what attracted me to it. 

Haico: What was the first moment that you yourself experienced ultimate glory? 

Dan: Probably on the MTV Awards, you know, I was still just a kid. I was like 21 years old or something like that. And kind of out of nowhere, I had the opportunity to dance with Britney Spears. And just to be on a call in New York City and on live television in front of, I don’t know how many people watched that show, 15, 20 million people, I just couldn’t believe what was happening.

And that was kind of the moment that I said to myself, I think I want to be a dancer. Like, I didn’t even realize it. It was only a hobby up to that point. And I think at that moment, that’s when I realized I really love this. This is what I want to do. 

Haico: It’s beautiful to hear that from you, man. I still feel the sparks in your voice when you’re thinking back to the moment like that. And what about the young dancers right now? What do you see, what is the thing that they can do to get there? And what is their biggest blind spot? 

Dan: First of all I think what’s important now is that there’s opportunity everywhere, right? It’s kind of like our world has sort of shrunken down because of YouTube and social media and our access to all this stuff. I think there’s more opportunities than ever for us to put ourselves out there as dancers and showcase our talents and share them with the world. And I think that is amazing. So I love that for young dancers, that there are so many opportunities out there.

I think the dangerous part is wanting it to happen quickly and not realizing the amount of years it takes to really get to the point where, you know, you are at your best. Like any athlete, any basketball player or football player or soccer player, whatever it may be, the years that you have to put in to be good enough to make it to the ultimate level, it’s the same thing for a dancer, right? And I think as great as all these opportunities are, I think some of us see we can get famous overnight on TikTok or on YouTube, and they forget to truly be a good dancer, the years of training and discipline and hard work, you know, that’s what’s going to make the difference and give you longevity in your career. 

Haico: And is that something that you’re missing? 

Dan: In general, when you’re looking at dancers, this is like the key thing that a lot of dancers are just missing.

Haico: What are you looking for?

Dan: Yeah, I think they find something that they like, and they stick to that, and they don’t kind of broaden their horizons as much as they can. There’s so many incredible people that you can learn from in this world as a dancer. So many teachers, so many choreographers that you can learn from and get better and build your vocabulary as a dancer and your styles and your technique and everything that goes into really molding a great dancer. It’s this willingness to try to get better every day and keep learning. 

Haico: And how about yourself? Are you still learning? 

Dan: Oh, man. You know what I’m learning as I get older? I am learning that dance, no matter how old I get, and, you know, I can’t dance the same way I used to, and that’s okay. I’m learning that dance can still be a huge part of my life, whether it’s overseeing a production like this and being involved and giving young dancers an opportunity to perform, or it’s just teaching my daughter a dance from TikTok that she wants to do.

To just go to shows in New York City and different places and still watch it, and I have such an appreciation for it. It’s still such a huge part of my life. It’s different, but it’s still a huge part of my life, and I think it always will be.

Haico: Is this also something that you want for your own kids? Is it also something that you want to share with them? 

Dan: Absolutely. 

Haico: Or do you want to keep them far from it? 

Dan: No. They’re only 10 and 12, but they’ve chosen not to go to dance class. They don’t want to, but they have a love for music and a love for dance that they just, you know, turn on music in the house and dance around and, again, try to learn things that they see on YouTube and TikTok and things like that, and that’s what I find important. If my son would rather fish or play baseball instead of go to dance class, that’s fine, but I love that he still has a love for music, a love for movement, an appreciation for it, and that it’s still somewhat a part of his life. I hope that they’ll grow up to be adults that aren’t afraid to hop on the dance floor, whether they’re at a bar or at a wedding or wherever they may be.

I don’t want them to ever be self-conscious, but to realize that dancing feels good. You know, music feels good. Dancing feels good. It should be a part of your life. Whether you do it in the privacy of your own home or you do it on the biggest stages.

Haico: Yeah, that’s good to hear. I think there’s so much to share, right? 

Dan: There’s so much life knowledge in dancing, and that’s also what you’re displaying here, I guess.

Haico: Dancers sometimes tend to lose their sincerity over form. You hear what I’m saying? 

Dan: Absolutely. 

Haico: And if you had to choose? You see somebody on stage being its sincere self, trying to move to music, or seeing somebody who’s in complete form, but not having that sincerity. What would you prefer to look at? 

Dan: I’ll take the person who just moves and feels it and loves it any day of the week. I have a true appreciation for the dancer who has trained, clearly trained, as hard as they possibly can to just be almost as perfect, but that doesn’t make me feel anything, right? I’m going to feel something when I watch somebody who is clearly affected by the music and moving based on how they’re feeling.

That gets me every time, and I’ll take that every time, and, you know, this kind of goes back to the question when you guys asked, what are we looking for for these performances on stage? I want someone who wants to be on stage and who loves to perform and share that love with an audience. That’s who wins over an audience. That’s who you want to watch on stage, the person who is up there giving their heart and soul to it.

I don’t care how many turns you do or, you know, how high you jump or how great your technique is. That’s all great, but I want the person who feels it and is going to make me feel something. 

Bart: Our final question. Are there any dance TV-programs in the pipeline for the coming season? 

Dan: You know what? No. That’s what’s upsetting. We’re doing Holland’s Got Talent again. I love that we have that show, and we always do get two or three really good dancers or dance groups that come out on that show. But, we’ve been pushing for these last few years, ever since we came out of the pandemic, we’ve been pushing to try to get a new dance show on air, both here in the U.S. and in the Netherlands, and it’s just been a hard sell. We haven’t been able to do it yet, but I’m still hopeful.

Bart: Well, thank you for your time. 

Dan: Yeah, thank you.

Bart: And we’ll talk again very soon. 

Dan: Yeah, okay, good, sounds good. Okay, have a good day.


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