Getting to Know Max Pollak -- Part II

by Nicole Harris

In this next segment of my conversation with Max Pollak, he talks about the importance of all of his dance training from tap to ballet to theatre as he creates work.  Thanks again to Melissa Dollman for her help in this process!

All the dance styles that I studied sit in my body, so they inform my decisions. Even my ballet background, which is not huge, but it’s there. And I’m really happy it’s there, because it gives me an edge to other people who only tap dance, or only do Cuban music. So I always try to look at everything I do from several vantage points—from the vantage point of the musician, the oral side, from the vantage point of a tap dancer, the tap technique and the movement, from the point of the ballet dance as far as spatially, and arrangement-wise, as far as who goes where, from the modern dancer as far as background and thought, like what am I trying to say here? From the acting point of view, how are we expressing ourselves, what is our motive, where are we going, where are we coming from, how are we getting there, what are we feeling in the moment? Are all the dancers expressing that while they’re dancing? Because, to me, the most important thing in dancing are your eyes. If your eyes don’t dance, you are not dancing. If there’s anything I’ve learned, especially in Cuba or in Brazil, it’s that dancing is not physical. Dancing is metaphysical.  So if somebody doesn’t dance with their face or their eyes, they’re not dancing. And I don’t care how much they jump up and down, and how many… that’s not what dancing is about. It’s the translating of your thought through your aura I even want to say. If your aura doesn’t dance, your body doesn’t dance.  It’s not sport. It’s a HUGE beef I have with competitions, and the whole competitive tap jam session thing, where everybody has to out-do each other. Where a lot of times, I just have to say, well, these guys or these girls are really amazing technically, and they’re out-doing each other, but they’re not speaking to me at all. They’re not speaking to anybody in the room except for themselves. And soliloquy is not what dancing is about to me.  It’s a communal experience. So I try to look at everything from all these vantage points and get a rounded product that will satisfy all my prerequisites—that needs to be done, that needs to be there…

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