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White Plains Choreographer Brings Shape, Emotion To Dance Performances

White Plains resident Sidra Bell.
White Plains resident Sidra Bell. Photo Credit: David Flores
Sidra Bell is inspired by architectural ideas and visual art.
Sidra Bell is inspired by architectural ideas and visual art. Photo Credit: David Flores

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Sidra Bell wants to evoke emotion in you.

The director of Manhattan-based Sidra Bell Dance New York (SBDNY) is known for creating fully produced events that go beyond a simple "dance performance."

Her body of work, as well as her desire to give back and mentor the next generation of dancers, is what makes her the recent recipient of one of ArtsWestchester’s "50 for 50 Artists" awards. (See previous Daily Voice story here .)

The current White Plains resident began dancing with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Ailey Youth Program while growing up in Washington Heights. At 22, she stopped performing to concentrate on directing and choreography and hasn’t looked back.

“I’ve always preferred the studio process to the stage, that’s where the most beauty comes out,” said Bell. “For me it’s more intense as a director/choreographer and I feel like an active dancer in the process.”

The result: Sidra Bell Dance New York, which she founded in 2001.

Bell’s works are considered examples of progressive, profound, and provocative dance theater and typically upend heteronormative roles. “I stay away from the normative roles that sometimes happen in dance,” she explained. “It’s very fluid for me. A lot of the roles [in my pieces] are shared by men and women; there’s no division whether a man ‘says’ it or a woman.”

With each piece, Bell’s hope is to create a connective moment between audience and performers. “Dance has an abstract element to it," she said. "It’s a physical experience for both the performer and viewer. At times I am provoking the audience and trying to connect them into the experience somehow.”

“To me,” added Bell, “Movement is emotional. I’m very inspired by architectural ideas and visual art: shape, space, color and sound. All those things are emotional just because they are, not because they are defined by society as being so.

"I don’t think people give dance enough credit. It’s a visual art, a moving art; it’s what makes dance so special.”

SBDNY will premiere “Unidentifiable; Bodies” at the Baruch Performing Arts Center June 4 to 7. For more information on Bell's work and upcoming performances visit www.sidrabelldanceny.org/ .

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