Milteri Tucker Concepcion/Bombazo Dance Co., Photo: Javier Luis
Milteri Tucker Concepcion/Bombazo Dance Co., Photo: Javier Luis
The Dance Enthusiast
T

The Dance Enthusiast's A to Z: T is for Caleb Teicher and Safi Thomas

Caleb Teicher
Safi Thomas

Caleb Teicher

Biography

Caleb Teicher is an acclaimed NYC-based dancer, choreographer, and director. After dancing with Dorrance Dance, The Bang Group, The Chase Brock Experience, West Side Story Int'l Tour, and many others, he shifted his primary focus to creating dance work for his group, Caleb Teicher & Company. Since then, the company's work has been commissioned/presented by The Joyce Theater, New York City Center, Works & Process @ the Guggenheim, the Kennedy Center/National Symphony Orchestra, DanceCleveland, the Yard on Martha's Vineyard, the American Tap Dance Foundation, and others. Follow Caleb on Instagram (@CalebTeicher) or on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/CalebTeicherAndCompany)

Headshot: David Needleman; action shot, courtesy of the artist.

 

Safi Thomas

Biography

Mr. Thomas is the Founder of the 28-year-old NGO (non-governmental organization), H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory, which holds special consultative status to ECOSOC at the United Nations. He created and codified The BLADE Dance Technique® in 1995, which has educated over 20,000 dancers nationally and internationally in the foundations of Hip-Hop Dance. Safi is the philanthropic visionary behind all of H+’s community initiatives and has provided over $10 million worth of services to the dance community and beyond. He serves as the Artistic Director of H+’s repertory company, Theatre of the Mind® {TOTEM®}, which presents seasons nationally and internationally. Safi travels the globe speaking about the need for more civic-minded dance leaders who work towards sustainability in dance. Learn more about Safi and H+ @hiphopdanceconservatory or www.hdcny.com!

Photos courtesy of the artist.

1

My earliest memory of dancing : _______________

Teicher :

is on my bed in my room! I choreographed dances to Tito Puente, Jagged Edge, NSYNC . . . I had eclectic taste

Thomas:

My earliest memory of dancing was at my great grandfather’s 101st birthday! I think I was 2 or 3. I was running around everywhere trying to dance with everybody that I could dance with. I just loved it. There were so many people that were there: Katherine Dunham, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Melvin Van Peebles and more. 

2

What was the light bulb moment when you realized you were going to be a dancer?

Teicher :

Still having it! It’s a choice every day I wake up. I continue to love it, so I continue to do it.

Thomas:

I didn’t have any interest in doing dance professionally but when I got my first professional gig with MTV that gave me a bug like “Oh wow, I can do this for a living?” It was the first time I made real money beyond the odd jobs I had when I was younger. 

3

What gives you energy?

Teicher :

Good music! Dancers who can really play and interpret and express! Good lighting!

Thomas:

Co-Enzyme Q10. Alpha-Lipoic Acid. B-Complex. Water. But seriously, the NYC dance community because of their tenacity and resilience.

4

A perfect day includes____________

Teicher :

a cup of tea, quality time with a friend, and a social dance event at night.

Thomas:

chocolate chip ice cream from Häagen-Dazs®. 

5

What event (dance-related or not) has transformed you?

Thomas:

The death of my father. It just forced me to reexamine my approach to dance and to what I was providing my community. It had me rewrite the man I was. 

6

What is/are your favorite dance move(s)?

Teicher :

I like turning! It feels good.

Thomas:

The Macarena. LOL. Anything Hip-Hop. Any move that is cultural, innovative, and compelling.  

7

The most expressive part of the body is _________

Teicher :

arguably my feet or my hair.

Thomas:

the hands. I think there’s a lot of beauty that can be articulated through the hands, which can shift or change the shape of a movement. And it can be very ethereal depending on the context. 

8

What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far?

Teicher :

Running my dance company! It’s hard work, but I’m proud to make work with fantastic collaborators and to help employ so many talented artists.

Thomas:

Creating H+; a non-governmental organization (NGO) that houses a conservatory, a repertory company with over 180 original repertory pieces in Hip-Hop Dance called Theatre of the Mind®, a dancer-run grocery supplement program called DanceMart®, a health and wellness program called SPA®, and a pro-bono media service program called Pimp My Style® {PMS}! 

9

What is your life’s motto?

Teicher :

(These days) No sudden movements.

Thomas:

Don’t complain about what doesn’t exist. If you don’t see it, build it.

10

What is your most treasured possession?

Teicher :

My body! Everything else can go.

Thomas:

The book, Artist of Life, by Bruce Lee and a stuffed animal pig named “Yoni” from my daughter, Jazmyn.

11

What is your favorite post-performance meal?

Teicher :

Chocolate milk, gummy bears, and a soft bed.

Thomas:

Burger and fries.

12

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you like to go?

Teicher :

Japan, Brazil, Paris!

Thomas:

Port of Safi in Morocco.

13

I question_______.

Teicher :

consumerism. We don’t need so much stuff — we just need our bodies and some essential tools/instruments and a space to live/play/create!

Thomas:

the notion that dance is impermanent.

14

_____________ is overrated.

Teicher :

Virtuosity

Thomas:

Applause

15

My greatest influence(s) is/are______.

Teicher :

my parents, brother, and too many great dance/music/theater artists to list here.

Thomas:

my parents. Both my mom and my dad were keen on me having an education. My father was very much about me being able to be self-sufficient. He never looked at anything as being impossible. So if I ever said I was going to do something he would ask, “What’s your plan?” And that’s what I do for myself all the time now. Dance-wise I would have to say Cicely and Olisa of “NuStylz,” The WonderTwins, Big Lez (the person who encouraged me to keep doing work), Mr. Wiggles, and Ken Swift

16

If I could switch careers I would be a _______.

Teicher :

community organizer.

Thomas:

doctor working the ER in a teaching hospital. Specifically for trauma.

17

I would like to learn to ____________.

Teicher :

garden!

Thomas:

to speak Arabic because I’m fascinated by the similarities between Arabic and Spanish

18

One of the jobs/projects I most enjoyed was _______ because______.

Teicher :

premiering a piece at Fall For Dance @ New York City Center because it was a dream of mine for years, and it lived up to the hype! Performing on that NYC stage for 2300 people was a total thrill.

Thomas:

being Artistic Director and Choreographer for the first commercial of America’s Best Dance Crew. I loved being able to express myself within a wide range of styles from Hip-Hop to Swing to Tap with so many incredible dancers from NYC.

19

One of my favorite artists (dead or alive) dance or otherwise is ________

Teicher :

Dianne Walker, Meredith Monk, Paul Simon, Chance The Rapper . . . The list goes on!

Thomas:

Arthur Mitchell. 

20

I am looking forward to ________

Teicher :

making more dance work with my company! Every time we make a new piece, I get excited all over again. Specifically: the premiere of More Forever (our collaboration with composer Conrad Tao) at Works & Process/Guggenheim January 2019, the return of Bzzz (our collaboration with beatboxer Chris Celiz) in 2019, and the many things further out that I can’t talk about yet! 

Thomas:

the injury prevention clinic, emergency services, teaching hospital, biomedical research facility, and arts pavilion I’m building for dancers here in NYC and eventually around the world!


The Dance Enthusiast's A to Z Celebrates our 10th Anniversary by Highlighting People Who Power The Dance World.
Stay Tuned for More Installments!

Submit an #AudienceReview
Send us a POSTCARD to 
info@dance-enthusiast.com and let us know what you are up to.
List Your Events With us for FREE.
Support Dance Writing in New York! Place an Ad on The Dance Enthusiast! Take a look at the specs here and contact 
info@dance-enthusiast.com for further information.

The Dance Enthusiast

Related Features

More from this Author