A New York Times article about the 2005 retirement of ballet dancer, Jock Soto sums up just a few of the reasons why he has had such a warm welcome by emerging dancers at The Banff Centre: ”At 40, he can look back to a special place as one of ballet’s most creative personalities. While choreographers are essential to the art, dancers like Mr. Soto – and they are few – also define and redefine choreography with bold individuality and implicit collaboration.”
Jock Soto enjoyed an amazing career that includes the distinction of being the most choreographed dancer in the history of the New York City Ballet. A celebrity in his own right, he was named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World”, and Andy Warhol made a graphite drawing of him in 1986. But as he neared the end of his 24-year career with the New York City Ballet, he began to realize he had lost a connection to his Navajo heritage.
In 2007, Soto was chronicled in the award-winning documentary Water Flowing Together, where he began to reflect on his roots and past in Arizona. This project also first brought him to The Banff Centre. At a screening of the film at the ImagiNative film festival in Toronto, Soto met Sandra Laronde, director of the Centre’s Indigenous Arts program. Since 2009, Soto has come to Banff each summer as faculty for the Indigenous Dance Residency. This summer, the group performed Spirit with dancers from all over the world.
In the audio interview below, hear more about Soto’s amazing journey.
Music: Rubies to the music of Igor Stravinsky
City sounds from Freesound.org: acutescream, bulbastre, eric5335, cognate perceptu
The final song, A Tribe Called Red – Electric Powwow, was used in the Indigenous Dance performance of Spirit
Produced by Camara Miller. Mastered by Magdalena Kasperek.