Dancing in Virtual Space: Talking Tech with Alysia Johnson

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July 11, 2019

Today, HSDC company member, Alysia Johnson (aka A/J), takes us through a Day in the (Cyber) Life. We discussed how technology affects her every day as a dancer, teacher, and artist.  

I feel like sometimes we all go through this, but I have a love/ hate relationship with my cellular device mostly because it’s something that people expect me to commit to and be responsible for all the time. But, It’s also been really helpful because a lot of our pieces are archived online so I use my phone to pull up those links and re-learn my steps, kind of like a cheat sheet.

What music are you currently listening to and playing in your classes?

I love making playlists, I wish I could be a DJ in some next life. I try to curate an awesome environment when I'm teaching so music is a big part of that. I like to do a mix of old school and new school. I’m open to every kind of music, but I choose mostly R&B vibes. So you’re always going to find Lauren Hill in my playlists, a little bit of Daniel Caesar, and this artist called GoldLink that just came out with a new album that I’m into. Music can influence the way dancers take class, and I also like to play music that makes me feel comfortable so it can give me a little bit more confidence because it can be pretty nerve-wracking standing at the front of the room.

Listen to A/J’s playlist, If I Ain’t Got Contemporary Dance Then I Don’t Have Anything.

What does your Instagram feed look like? 

I really enjoy fashion, so that’s mostly what my Instagram feed is like. I don’t have fashion sense outside the studio per se or I don’t exercise that ability, but inside the studio I do, so I like when those things collide. There’s this one account called Issa Dance Look that some of my friends made, which at first was just them posting their outfits that they wear in class, but now literally everyone is featured and submitting their looks. Dance legends are even submitting, and some Hubbard Street folks too! It’s really cool too because they’ll post where all their clothes are from so you find new brands and places to shop. It’s so fun because it’s still in the dance community. You just see your friends lookin’ good and it just makes you happy. 

Dancer Alysia Johnson at The Joyce Theater in NYC.

How do you feel about seeing dance online versus in the theater?

So I have this really weird idea in my head that If I post something about dance that it’s somehow drawing people away from the theatre... But then without Instagram, I would have never known about some of these amazing dancers. I actually have an inspirational collection under my saved posts for when I need it. We had Emma Portner come in during August and I've saved a couple of her videos because sometimes you just need to get out of your own head. 

Give A/J a follow!

How do you think the media you consume contributes to your dance attitude and/or teaching methods?

Well, I think the media can definitely inspire me. More than I like to admit, it’s one of the first things I’m attached to in the mornings, even before I get to work. Luckily, media can be accessed so many different ways and so many people have access to it who are all sharing their ideas. For me, access to media instills a little bit of confidence because I tend to be a person who holds back a lot of information and opinions. If someone else is saying these things or if they want to say what they want to say, why can’t I do the same? If I agree with someone, why can’t I share that I do? I’m a community kid back home, so it’s an extension that I have with that attachment of building a community and supporting each other.

What’s one of your favorite pieces of Hubbard Street’s repertoire?

Oh my goodness this is so hard. One of my favorites to perform that I felt like it was the first time that I could truly be myself on stage was in Rena Butler’s piece called III. Third, which is actually making it back to the company this season. That piece was just so fun. The process was actually kind of difficult because the piece covers a lot of topics and I had to face a lot of things myself, but that piece can reflect me and my life very well. So I was like, “thank you that’s awesome!”. 

Spot A/J rehearsing Rena Butler’s III. Third  here.

Rena Butler's III. THIRD, photography by Cheryl Mann

If you could do something interactive with technology and dance, what would it look like?

It would be really cool if I could generate an entire dance in a virtual space that’s still true to my movement vocabulary before I actually go into the studio and have to set it on someone or even myself. I always try to open my mind to technology and the fact that it can show you more possibilities than you may not be able to see otherwise. 

Learn even more about Alysia Johnson (A/J) on our website, here.

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