Meet collidEdance Founder Erica Sobol

Erica Michelle Sobol, an L.A. native who works as a choreographer and teacher in her hometown, has caught the dance community’s eye. She’s a fearless choreographer whose work combines contemporary and modern vocabulary with pedestrian movement. Erica also uses animalistic movement with a touch of fluidity and vulnerability. And all of her work is punctuated by her sparkling energy.

Despite a late start—Erica took her first beginner dance class at 19 and her first ballet class at 21—she has proven that with passion and a desire to grow and learn, you can take a dream and turn it into reality. Now 28 years old, Erica’s career is in full swing. She teaches at the Edge Performing Arts Center in L.A., has worked as a master instructor at dance studios all over the world, including Broadway Dance Center in Tokyo and Pineapple in London, and started her own company, collidEdance, which blends theater and dance. Erica talked with DS about her company.


Dance Spirit: When did you know you wanted to dance for your career?
Erica Sobol: I’ve been “moving” and “making dances” my whole life. But in college (Barnard College at Columbia University in NYC) I connected with a lovely group of dancers through a student-run dance organization called Orchesis. They brought me to Broadway Dance Center and took me under their wings. As soon as I knew choreographing was a possibility, I wanted to do it for a living. Then, my dad saw a piece of mine that I had contributed to the 2002 Orchesis fall show and he said, “Hey, I think you might really be good enough to do this choreography thing professionally.” I’m a professional choreographer and it’s all my dad’s fault.

DS: Why did you want to start a company? And how did you put the dream into action?
ES: As soon as I knew I would spend my life making dances, I knew I wanted a family of dancers to share them with. When I lived in New York, another choreographer and I put together the first version of collidEdance. We had an incredible debut show…and then we all went our separate ways. I moved back to Los Angeles and found myself surrounded by a group of strong, beautiful movers who really pulled the best out of me and of each other. So I decided to put a new family together. Now collidEdance has a revolving door. Folks move away, book jobs or go back to school, and new friends come into our lives from all over the world. This year, there will be almost 30 dancers involved in our annual show—the most ever!

DS: How would you describe your company’s style?
ES: Unique, strange, dynamic. human, interpretive, funny, sexy, alive.

DS: What’s your choreography process like? Do you plan beforehand? Is the music a driving factor?
ES: I almost always go into the studio with an assistant. These days, I work with the most beautiful man, Morgan Burke, an insanely inspiring mover and really sharp creative mind. Music is the driving factor. Usually a new song will remind me of an experience I’ve always wanted to make work about, or an old song will suddenly line up with a current life-issue. For a rehearsal, I always arrive with lots of ideas, but very few specific movements. Morgan sticks to my side as I build the work on the dancers, playing around with shapes and formations and trying lifts that I’ve imagined. I always allow for bits of improvisation by the dancers and then we pick and choose what works and what doesn’t. The process is collaborative, but I’m definitely in charge.

DS: What are some of the challenges and rewards you’ve faced running a company?
ES: Our biggest challenge is scheduling! It’s difficult to get any group of folks into one room at the same time. The greatest reward is getting feedback on our work.  There is nothing better than knowing that my dancers are truly satisfied with their work and that they believe in mine. It’s wonderful to have emails pour in, to have classes get bigger and to hear awesome through-the-grapevine compliments after a successful show.

DS: In a room full of dancers, who pulls your focus?
ES: I am a stickler for musicality and dancers who can slip inside the music are usually my favorite to watch. I also love dancers who are unafraid, who really dance from their guts and with their hearts, who push their limits in every movement and every moment. Sometimes those dancers are not the most technically magnificent dancers in the room.  Great spirit, great energy, a positive attitude and focus—these are things I love, which are apparent in a dancer’s presence and learning style.

DS: What’s some advice you’d give a dancer with the desire to start a company?
ES: Go for it!  Most importantly, surround yourself with trustworthy, dependable, kind, generous, loving, hardworking individuals who believe in you and your work.


Mark your calendars: collidEdance will be at The Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood, CA, August 19!

 

Photo courtesy Erica Sobol

Blankenbuehler (far left) with the rest of the "Hamilton" creative team scontent-iad3-1.cdninstagram.com

So book your tickets to Tulsa already, people!

Keep reading... Show less

Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.

Keep reading... Show less
Photo by Jayme Thornton

Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.

Keep reading... Show less
Leah Morrison in Trisha Brown's If You Couldn't See Me, in which the soloist never faces the audience (photo by Julia Cervantes, courtesy Trisha Brown Dance Company)

Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.

She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.

Keep reading... Show less
Your Body
Amanda LaCount showing off her skills (screenshot via YouTube)

There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch This
Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

Mark your calendars, bunheads! On Monday, January 29th, at 2:45 PM (EST)/11:45 AM (PST), Pacific Northwest Ballet will be streaming a live rehearsal of Act II of Kent Stowell's Swan Lake.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch This
Tavaris Jones dancing with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Scream Team hip-hop crew

We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)

So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Joe Toreno

The coolest place she's ever performed:

I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!


Something she's constantly working on:

My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'


Signature look:

My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.


Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored