Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie (front left) and her company in Odeon, which premieres at Jacob's Pillow this summer. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Asherie

Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie on Collaborating—and Clashing—With Her Brother

Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie is no stranger to Jacob's Pillow. The New York–based b-girl has performed on the famous Inside/Out stage and at the Doris Duke Theatre and has appeared several times as a guest artist with Dorrance Dance. The native Israeli returns this summer as the first recipient of the Jacob's Pillow Fellowship at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post (which includes a $15,000 grant, a weeklong Pillow residency and another residency at Long Island University)—and to premiere a new work, Odeon, with her company, Ephrat Asherie Dance.

You must be so excited to go to Jacob's Pillow again.

It's truly amazing to be somewhere where people value dance so much. There's a weight given to what we do that's special and not how the rest of the world tends to operate around art. It's like a dance fairyland.


What was the inspiration for Odeon?

I knew I wanted to collaborate with my brother, Ehud, who's a jazz pianist. I would always go see his gigs, and there was a composer he played all the time, Ernesto Nazareth. I started listening to more of that music, and Ehud said, "Why don't we just do a project with Nazareth?"

The music straddles popular Brazilian rhythms and then this very classical, romantic music. Ehud helps the percussive feel come out, so it's very connected to the styles I do, which are all African-based. The title of the show, Odeon, is one of my favorite Nazareth tunes—but it's also the name of a kind of Greek and Roman building where people would gather for performances.

What is it like collaborating with your brother?

The same thing that makes it great makes it difficult! We can speak so directly to each other, which is efficient—nobody needs to be coddled. But, when we have a disagreement, we can really disagree. We're cut from the same cloth, so we're both pretty stubborn. At the same time, though, he introduced me to the music for Odeon and he loves it so much. That love itself is infectious.

The last time you were at Jacob's Pillow was with Dorrance Dance, whom you've been touring with quite a bit. What has it been like working with tap dancers?

I have this reverence for tap dancers because they're both musicians and dancers. Tap is the first of this lineage of African social dance; you can see in it the roots of everything that my company and I do. It feels like we're all cousins—it totally makes sense to work together. It's also helped me think about the percussive values of the things I do and think about choreography in a different way. I ask myself: What does this sound like in my mind, even if someone else can't hear it?

After your Pillow premiere, what's next?

We received a National Dance Project grant from New England Foundation for the Arts, so we're going on tour with Odeon. We're going to be able to keep living in the work, keep growing, keep seeing how it changes. Performance is ephemeral, but we'll get to live in it a little.

Latest Posts


Matthew Murphy, Courtesy DKC/O&M

MJ The Musical Casts Its Michael

MJ The Musical has found its Michael Jackson: Ephraim Sykes.

If there's anyone who's up to the task, it's easily Sykes. The Tony-nominated triple threat has proved his mettle time and again in six Broadway shows. No stranger to the soul and pop genres, he was in the casts of Memphis and Motown The Musical, and is currently starring as David Ruffin in Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

NYCDA Is Redefining the Convention Scene Through Life-Changing Opportunities

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

Dance Magazine Award Honoree: Sara Mearns

Sara Mearns is a force. There is a monumentality to her dancing that was apparent even as a young corps member of 19, cast in her first Swan Lake with New York City Ballet. She threw herself into the role heart and soul, stretching each shape to the limit, trusting the music to carry her to a deep place (and her partner to save her should she go too far). In the 13 years since, her dancing has gained in power and focus, while never losing that edge of risk.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
contest
Enter Our Video Contest