Getting to Know Ted Thomas and Thomas/Ortiz Dance

In celebration of our upcoming performance at the CoolNY 2014 Dance Festival Monkeyhouse has spent some time this winter interviewing other choreographers who will be joining us in Brooklyn at the end of the month.  Our second interview was with Ted Thomas, Artistic Director of Thomas/Ortiz Dance.   Based out of New York City, Thomas/Ortiz Dance is a contemporary dance company under the direction of Ted Thomas and Frances Ortiz.  You can find them performing at the CoolNY 2014 Dance Festival on Thursday, January 30, 7:00pm, Saturday, February 1, 7:00pm & Saturday, February 1, 2:00pm.  All performances are held at the WHITE WAVE John Ryan Theatre, 25 Jay St., Brooklyn, NY and are FREE!

Elyssa Dole by Lois Greenfield
N:  Your company bio talks about there being 12 dancers. Have you always worked with the same group or do you intentionally keep the number at 12 as you lose and add dancers? If so, what makes 12 the magic number?

TT:  The dancers do change from time to time, but in order to present a full, well rounded evening of programing of our repertory we need 12 dancers. Our larger group pieces have 10 dancers, so we still leave dancers to entertain the audience while the 10 that just performed or about to perform, change and get ready. 

N:  Thomas/Ortiz Dance has two artistic directors, yourself and Frances Ortiz. How did you and Frances meet? 
TT:  Frances and I meet in college at Purchase in 1991. We became close friends while rehearing the Nutcracker. We then followed each others career for fifteen years until finally marrying in 2006. 

N:  What prompted you to create a company together?
TT:  We've always shared a love and passion for dance, so moving and creating movement became the fabric of our relationship. A conversation we could always have, whether for fun or work. We dance together all the time. We teach in our ballet school in CT of 500 student together. We rehearse and choreograph ballets on our pre-professional company of 25 dancers together and we challenge our creativity with professional dancers and pieces for mature dance lovers through Thomas/Ortiz. 

N:  Every artistic team has its own style and methods. It appears that you have pieces choreographed by each of you individually as well as work created together. Do you have input on each other's work even if you aren't specifically involved? 
TT:  Yes, we ask each other for advice or opinions on our separate dances.

N:  How do you create work as a pair?
TT:  It varies, but mostly we tag team, she'll go in to rehearse one day, I'll go in the next, back and forth then when the outline is laid, we'll go in together and sculpt it. We each have our strengths.

N:  People in the arts often develop strong mentor/mentee relationships. Did/do you have a mentor throughout your career? 
TT:  For myself, Carol Walker of Purchase College and Dr G Scott of NYU.

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