Baseball Dance (2011)
Hi Everyone. Billy Schultz, the creator of Dancify That here. This story would not exist without Triskelion Arts and the New Victory Theater. Triskelion Arts used to have a “Comedy in Dance” Festival. The festival featured dancers interested in comedy, and actor/theater folx who love movement. In January of 2011, I performed a piece as a guy who— as a consequence of losing a bet— had to be in a dance festival. Since he knows nothing about dance, he decided to do a bunch of baseball moves to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” Somewhere near the beginning of the performance I was improvising and said I was going to “dancify” baseball. People laughed and I guess the memory stuck.
The New Victory Theater is an incredible organization that employees theater artists of all stripes here in NYC. I’m lucky enough to have been working there since 2009 and am surrounded by geniuses, many of whom have helped sculpt this idea along the way.
Getting Weird in a Studio (2015 )
2013-14 was dedicated to devising and directing a large performance art piece. The piece went well, but at the end of it I realized I wanted to make something that would appeal to a larger audience. Since I was performing a lot of physical comedy, I began a practice of creating an original comedic dance move every day. I called the project “Dance Move Daily.” It was random, impulsive and free and there was no way it would ever appeal to a larger audience but I loved it or a while. Then I got sort of bored with it. I wanted something more collaborative, and right: had set out to make something that would have more popular appeal.
Out into the World (2015)
Connecting to a larger audience and sharing with others became a priority, so I hit the streets. I began by just doing the absurd stuff I was doing in the studio out in the world. In order of the playlist that follows: My nephew over holiday break, me as an English tourist talking to German tourists, one called To Russia with Love, at a local cupcake shop, at the park with some skaters, at a hardware store, a series about a Wizard and Rooster who explore public art, and eventually back into the studio for a serious called “Tribute to the Masters” (non-dancers trying to imitate famous dances.) Sometime during all this experimenting I had the idea to have dancers use videos as inspiration for dance. “Dance-ify” came back.
Dancify That Videos (2015)
So, dance-ify-ing started as a video series. I worked mainly with dancers, although there were a few actors and clowns that participated as well. All in all, I made videos with over 100 dancers. Here are a few of them. In order: Joe Monteleone & Shelley White, with Dance Films Association, Emily Pacillio & Emily Craver & Shannon Nash, Breckyn Drescher & Hannah Garner, WT McRae & Jeremy Williams, Carolyn Barry & Maryann Peterson, Pia Vinson, and Deborah Lohse & Mark Gindick.
Live Shows (2016-)
At some point someone mentioned to me that the concept would make for a great live show. So on March 4, 2016 we did it. The show was 2.5 hours long. 8 dance teams, 4 judges, interstitial acts… it was LONG. We should have had an intermission but I’m glad we didn’t because people would have left. It was too long and a bit slow. But: enough people had a good good time that I knew it could work. Since then I’ve been doing a show every 2 months. Since then I’ve been doing the show every two months and it has mostly migrated from the dance community to the comedy community (I still do at least one show a year with just dancers).
Developing this show has been a blast. I’ve met a ton of amazingly generous artists along the way. People who have taken time out of their busy schedules to make videos, or given me great feedback on the show. The spirit of the show is impulsive, playful and bring people I’d even say joyful. Currently I’m under contract working towards developing it for TV. Aiming towards something that would take the act of making movement and putting it into structure of a reality competition with accents of the The Gong Show, the WWE, and some kind of laugh our loud live love fest.