Sidra Bell

Interview Highlights
Q: What social changes and responsibilities have you seen people making during the pandemic?
"It’s been great to see emergency funding platforms and resources for dancers. One thing I’m hoping is that there is now a sense of how hard it is to be an artist. I hope that we make more moves towards sustainability. I hope that we don’t rest in this but that there’s more action towards creating equity and fairness in terms of the people that work in the field. I can still work as part of the University. But for performers, what do they do? How do they manage if they are independent contractors? I think the job instability that has always been a question is now in our faces. How do we create a more ethical culture for us to work in? Even in schools. What do seniors in college think now that they are considering going into the field in such turbulent times? I think we need to create a field that has a sustainable structure. This is a very telling time because the rug was pulled out from under us. The ugly seams are being revealed. As a director, maker, and producer, the seams always felt fragile. And now we are seeing the seams. They are not all pretty. How do we make things more viable?"

Q: Do you think the pandemic will make us a more socially conscious society? If so, how?
"I’m hopeful. I can only speak from my position. I think it’s important to remember that we’re a small part of the universe. I think it’s a good time to remind ourselves how small we are in the fabric, to be grateful for those who make our life easy, for those who work for our safety. A lot of the time I forget how easy my life is. Maybe that’s the product of vanity. I’d like to see that change in myself. I’d like to change my self-centeredness. I try to be socially aware but it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own world. We need to shift the narcissism and look at the larger picture. We need to see what we can do to be better citizens. I was in NYC during 9/11. I was at the barre at Ailey when it happened. It was a marker in my life, the sort every generation has where the bottom drops out. And you learn a lot. You learn how to connect with things bigger than ourselves. In terms of my adult life, my whole consciousness shifted after 9/11. This is like part two for me. You never think this will happen, but it did."
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Sidra Bell, Artistic Director Sidra Bell, Artistic Director of Sidra Bell Dance New York, is currently a Master Lecturer at the University of the Arts (Philadelphia), was Adjunct Professor at Barnard College (Columbia University), and has a degree in history from Yale University and an MFA in Choreography from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance. She has been awarded a 1st Place Award for Choreography from the 15th Internationales Solo Tanz Theater Festival in Stuttgart Germany (2011). Her critically acclaimed company and work has been seen throughout the United States and internationally in Denmark, France, Austria, Germany, China, Canada, Aruba, Korea, Brazil and Greece. The Company was lauded in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's 2010 Best in Dance for ReVUE. Bell has received many commissions for new work from internationally renowned companies and institutions around the world. Most recently she was commissioned for a feature film TEST directed by Chris Mason Johnson and shot on location in San Francisco (release date-2013). She is a sought after master teacher and was featured in Dance Teacher Magazine (2012). She has taught her unique creative practice of movement, improvisation, and technique entitled Contemporary Systems-an interior & material approach at major institutions for dance and theater throughout Canada, Europe, South America, and the United States.