Transcript, The Dance Edit Extra Episode 7: Jamar Roberts on Embracing Complexity

Hi there, dance friends. I’m Margaret Fuhrer, the editor and producer of The Dance Edit newsletter and podcast. Welcome to this latest episode of The Dance Edit Extra!

I don’t usually like to play favorites with interviews, but I have to admit that this episode’s conversation is one of my all-time favorites. It’s with Jamar Roberts, a longtime star of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, who in just a couple of weeks will retire from performing so that he can focus on choreography. And I and I think a lot of other people are selfishly very sad that he’s retiring. But he has—and he’s always had, really—a very balanced perspective on how “being a dancer” fits into “being Jamar”; it’s not his entire identity, and neither is choreography. And that’s been the case from the beginning, he’s always had these myriad artistic interests beyond dance. Which I think in turn has actually made him a more compelling dancer and a more compelling choreographer. There are depths to his work that can only come from a diversity of experience.

He brings all of that depth to this conversation, too. So, enjoy, everybody—here’s Jamar.

[pause]

Margaret Fuhrer:
I have the great pleasure now of welcoming Jamar Roberts to the podcast. Hi Jamar! Thank you so much for joining today.

Jamar Roberts:
Hello.

Margaret Fuhrer:
Jamar has been one of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s most compelling performers since joining the company in 2002, and he’s also an extraordinary choreographer. In fact, he’s Ailey’s first ever resident choreographer, which is a position he’s held since 2019. In just a couple of weeks, on December 9th, he’s going to give his final performance with the company so that he can focus more on his choreographic work. And we’ll talk about all of that today, but first Jamar, I’m wondering if we can go back in time and talk about your beginnings, about how you first came to dance and how it got its claws in you.

You’re already shaking your head.

Jamar Roberts:
Because it’s just a story that I’ve told many times. And at this point, I’m trying to figure out how to do it with the least amount of words. [laughter]

Margaret Fuhrer:
Yeah. I’m wondering in particular, if you can talk a little up about Angel Fraser-Logan, and the relationship that you had. She and Dance Empire studio in Miami seem like forever homes for you, and I’m wondering if you can talk a little about why that is and what she helped you figure out about yourself.

Jamar Roberts:
Yeah, of course. I met her my freshman year of high school, when the Dance Empire just opened, and she was just going around teaching classes, master classes, to local arts magnet schools in the area. And so she saw me, I took her class—because I guess at that point I was already dancing in school a little bit, I wasn’t very good, but I was in there—and so she saw me and she saw that I had talent, so she asked if I would train with her. And I said, “Sure.” And I think the relationship there was just basically one of mentorship, essentially. It was that, and then I also just became a son for her. She cared for me personally far beyond the artistic things that we were engaged with in the studio.

But the reason why I think I keep going back is because I think that she instilled something in me that I still now to this day carry with me, and that’s the value and the importance of dance as art. And we were doing a lot of competing and a lot of dance as competition and dance as entertainment during that time. And the studio was really successful in those competitions, but I think it was because she refused to conform to the spirit of dance as competitive or being super entertaining. She was always about the art of dance. Every step that you made, you had to make it from the depth of your being. And every time you went on stage, you really had to connect with a really deeper part of yourself. And that’s something that I’ve always carried with me from the moment I started my career up until now. And that’s something that she still teaches at that studio, and that’s something that I make a great importance in my work. I don’t try to do that explicitly, but I think that the work itself definitely ask the dancers to bring their deeper selves to the stage.

Margaret Fuhrer:
Yeah. It’s not just about the superficial polish, which can be a lot of what competitive dance is.

Actually, I’m especially interested in your experiences coming up in that competition dance world, because it’s, I think, a part of your story that sometimes gets glossed over a little bit. And competitive dance can be great. But it can also be… It’s such a strange and specific subculture of dance. What was it like for you coming up through that?

Jamar Roberts:
I loved it. When I first started, and that was, like I said, my freshman year of high school, I loved it all. I loved the creativity. I loved the cheers from the audience. I just loved everything about it. But that was also because I was very new to dance in general, and so any dance anywhere I saw it, I loved it immediately. And so with this, I’m also involved in it. So I don’t know. I really loved it.

But I think it’s just like sports or piano lessons or anything that you put a child in when they’re younger. There’s a certain… If they love it, there’s a certain fascination, but as they grow older, it’s smarter. You see where the holes are and where the missteps are within the bigger picture of it all. And so that happened to me. I was in my senior year of high school and still going to a competition and I was like, “Absolutely not.” And at this point I knew that I was going to go to Ailey, and I was taking my training at New World School of the Arts more seriously. And so the things that were happening in the competition scene just didn’t matter to me anymore. And then I didn’t really see where they had a life for me or where it had any interest for me beyond after I graduated. There are no competition companies or anything that, you know what I mean? It just wasn’t really in line with what I wanted at the time.

And now looking back on it, it’s interesting. There’s tons I could say about it that…but I won’t. [laughter] But I think overall it actually gave me a lot of access to my body in ways that I don’t think I would’ve had, if I had done strict conservatory training all the way through my younger years. It’s the way that you’re required to show your body, show your extension, show your foot, you know what I mean? Show this type of weird sexuality or, you know what I mean? All of these things that you have to really tap into and put them on display. I think it just gives you a wider range of movement and ideas to work from when you, or if you, do decide to become professional. So it has its ups and downsides.

Margaret Fuhrer:
Like everything. I know, it is interesting though—I feel like if you go to any concert dance performance, you can almost immediately pick out the comp kids on the stage, who came up through that world. There’a certain three-dimensionality to their dancing.

Jamar Roberts:
Absolutely.

Margaret Fuhrer:
So joining Ailey, and you’ve talked about this in other interviews too, but it sounds like it was a path that was suggested for you, that Peter London from New World School of the Arts helped make that happen. But you have all these different interests and gifts. So what kinds of possibilities did you consider before you joined Ailey, and even after you joined too?

Jamar Roberts:
For me, it was always, besides dance, it was pretty much anything I could do with my hands. And at the time it was visual arts. I like illustrating, animation, anything that had to do with drawing or painting. I did do a couple semesters at FIT for fashion design. But these were all of my interests and they’re still all of my interests.

I think that earlier on when I was in the company, I just did not know how to handle dancing full time. And then having all of these interests tugging me in different directions—because I think as I danced, I’ve always tried to keep a part of myself, a non dancer. I just felt it was really important. No one really told me that it was important to do that. It was something that I felt inside, that I needed to constantly have something that grounded me or kept me tethered to myself and my needs that were beyond things that I desired from having a dance career.

Margaret Fuhrer:
I wish we taught more young dancers that, because I feel like the tunnel vision that can happen in the other direction can actually be a little bit dangerous sometimes.

Jamar Roberts:
It can be. There was one friend of mine earlier on in the company that…I wasn’t really getting, I guess, my needs met, you can say. I wasn’t really getting the things that I wanted at that time. And she said to me, “You can’t expect this company to be your be all end all. You can’t expect them to be the reason why you wake up in the morning. Your goal for existing and living in this art form and the world in general has to be a little bit bigger than that.” And that way, if there’s a disappointment here within dance, you have a bigger world view of what matters to you and it’ll help you stabilize yourself, I think, a little bit better emotionally.

Margaret Fuhrer:
Which will also make you a better dancer in the end. You’re basically already answering my next question, which is about the idea—we have this whole narrative in the concert dance world of the great dancer who’s not fully alive unless they’re performing, that whole Red Shoes thing. But it seems your relationship with performing is more—not complicated, it’s more considered than that. And I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about how you would describe your relationship with performing and how it’s evolved over time.

Jamar Roberts:
Oh, I think my relationship with performing… Wow. I think that there are two contrasting feelings that I feel. On one hand, I feel I’m most myself when I’m performing, more myself than I am right now on this podcast or ever in life when I speak to someone I know on the street. There’s a type of mask or a type of veneer, big or small, that goes on when you’re interacting with people or just when you’re outside of your home in general that isn’t really there. There’s a vulnerability that happens in performance that I can’t really seem to access anywhere else.

But then I also feel performing itself is not a necessity for me. I love being in the studio. I love process. I love experimentation and exploration. So there’s moments that happen behind the scene or things that happen on paper where I’m just noodling around—I feel those moments are equally as powerful. It’s a different kind of vulnerability. It’s one that you have to have with yourself. There’s a lot of struggle, I think, in the more intimate moments, internal stuff that’s going on that you have to constantly tell yourself, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. This is okay.” There’s a lot of, I think, self-care–type dialogue that goes on when you’re trying to get from… I guess now I’m speaking more about creatively in the studio, and you’re trying to get from point A to Z. If you’re too critical of yourself all the way during that time, you’ll never get anywhere. So there’s a lot of letting go that has to happen.

Margaret Fuhrer:
The direction you’re going, I should probably skip ahead in my questions, but I’m going to stick to them for a second because there are a couple things I’m hoping you can talk a little more about—the first one being that, as you mentioned, this departure from Ailey is not your first departure from Ailey. You took these two time outs before. What motivated those periods away, and then what ultimately brought you back?

Jamar Roberts:
The first time I was really young, I had probably only been in the company for two years, and I just was impatient and…oh my gosh, impatient. I just really wanted to try other things beyond dance. And also it was a little bit of culture shock, I think, for me, coming from Miami where Angel at Dance Empire instilled this idea of creativity and there was so much color and so much activity in the room at all times. And then I got into the company, for those first two years, it seemed like the walls got a little bit smaller, because companies, they come with structure, and I just really wasn’t used to it. So it felt really tight to me. And I just felt I needed to go and still maybe pursue dance, but really just to go and be a visual artist, is really what I did.

The second time I was burnt out. I came back to the company and they were like, “Great. Dance everything.” So that went on for a really long time. And I loved it, and I think that I really became a better dancer for it. But it got to a point where it was time to re-sign for the next year, where I was like, if I sign on the dotted line I’ll probably be a very unhappy person for the next year. It just felt a little bit dangerous, actually, in terms of my own mental and emotional health. And so I left, and I went back to Miami and took a lot of bike rides and drank a lot of coffee and taught a lot of dance classes.

Margaret Fuhrer:
And what brought you back after that?

Jamar Roberts:
Oh, in teaching those dance classes… When I said I taught, I really taught. I basically taught from what felt like sun up to sun down. Sometimes it was teaching, it was choreographing. The studio opened at 3:00, I think. And I was in there long before three sometimes, like 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, just making stuff. I caught this bug where I just couldn’t stop making things. Things meaning dance steps. It wasn’t even choreography at that point. It was just like… I would get any music that I could find or music that I thought was interesting to me and I just started making stuff obsessively and I would record it all. And then actual classes would start at 3:00. And so I’d start to teach, but when teaching those things sometimes I would give some of the information that I’d found earlier that day or I would just start making something completely new in class. And then classes would end, and there would be rehearsals after for pieces that I actually made for competition. And so it was just this really immersive moment of putting in the…what do they call it? 10,000 hours? I didn’t know I was doing it at the time because I was so in.

And then after a while I was like, “I got to go.” I just felt like I needed to put it to the test, and I just couldn’t do it in Miami, Florida. And I think the kids were also really inspired by it. And I was like, “Well, if I want to inspire the kids, there aren’t really that many performance opportunities or companies in Miami compared to New York.” So I said, “If I want to inspire them, I physically have to leave the city so that they could aspire to follow and to go to New York and pursue dance.” And so it was for those two reasons that I went back.

Margaret Fuhrer:
Have any of those kids made it to New York since then?

Jamar Roberts:
Yeah, they have.

Margaret Fuhrer:
That’s awesome. And I was wondering, too, about how your pursuit of visual arts relates to your interest in dance and choreography. What are the through lines there between those different media?

Jamar Roberts:
This is a question I’ve been asked a couple times and I don’t know, to be honest with you. There are some things that I can sense that I can probably articulate, but if the visual art aspect of myself makes its way into the dance, oftentimes I don’t know that it’s happening. I was born this way, so it’s not like I’m really trying very hard to have things materialize, I think, to organize things and to make them communicate. That’s where I have to really put in the effort. But to have them be, or to have them exist in the way that they do, it feels very natural to me. And so that’s why it’s really hard to answer that question.

But sometimes when I’m like, let’s say, I’m building phrase work and I’m alone, I can feel definitely as if I’m drawing with my bodies or with my arms or the space is very three dimensional to me. It’s like the environment that I’m in becomes very malleable, but then also my actual body and my imagination are all at work. And so it just feels…when you have a blank sheet of paper, and that moment where you’re on the phone with somebody and just grab a pencil and you just start to doodle, this type of stream of conscious thing, this happens and stuff happens after that. And I don’t really… I honestly have not really tried to break down where those two worlds meet within dance or how one influences the other, it’s just there and comes out.

Margaret Fuhrer:
That’s not your job. That’s my job as the writer and critic.

So can you talk a little bit about—when you are beginning a new piece of choreography, where is the initial impulse, usually? Is it coming out of music? Is it coming out of your body? Does it differ every time?

Jamar Roberts:
I would like for it to differ every time. And I think it does, it feels like it does, but at some point when it comes to organizing whatever the inspiration was for the work, you always have to go to your methods for how you make the dance. You know what I mean? But the initial inspiration—I guess it comes out of my heart mind, is what they would call it in Buddhist philosophy. I have a moment where I have to feel, where am I? What are you feeling right now? What do you think about whatever is at the top of your list of thoughts? You know what I mean? What is the reoccurring thing that you’ve been thinking about for the past year or the past week? I just try to find a pressing feeling or a question or an idea that’s probably been sitting with me for a while that I just haven’t really had the time to pay attention to it, but I try to turn my attention to it when it’s time to make dance.

And what does turning my attention to it look like? Oh my gosh, it looks like sitting around doing nothing. It looks like a lot of writing. It looks like a lot of reading. And then somewhere in there, I grab onto something really small and I just start to try and tease it out and then one thing leads to another. It just all snowballs and becomes a big dance.

Margaret Fuhrer:
So it sounds you do a whole lot of preparation before you get to the studio. You’re not one of those walk in and see the dancers and go people.

Jamar Roberts:
I am. But given what the industry is these days and time that you’re allotted to have, I think it’s just smarter to come in prepared or else you might find yourself in a very tough situation. But I’m flexible. I definitely wouldn’t say I have to prepare before I go in or I like to just go in. I think it just depends on how much space I’m given, time.

Margaret Fuhrer:
You’re an artistic director’s dream. Can you talk about how you choose your music too? I know this is something you’ve talked about in other interviews, but—you frequently choose jazz music, and I’ve heard you say that that actually can be a big challenge for you. Can you talk more about that?

Jamar Roberts:
Yeah. I mean I choose it because it just feels authentic to me and my interest and my culture and I think that everything that I make, I just try to be really honest to it. And even if I decide to choose something outside of jazz, there’s a definite reason for it. I won’t just do it willy nilly. I won’t just go Philip Glass just because I like Philip Glass. That won’t really happen.

How do I choose it? I stay immersed in music all the time. Different genres, different sounds, it really doesn’t matter. I think I just try to stay close to something. But the music, it’s never easy. Because for me, it’s really hard to listen to easy music for too long. A day is probably as most as I can do then I get really bored. And so the other reason why I choose jazz music is because for me, it’s endless discovery. I never know what’s going on, but I know what’s going on at the same time. And I love that complexity. I think the complexity gives you a lot of room, actually, gives me a lot of room when it comes time to make dance because you can, underneath the complexity, there’s always a skeleton. There’s something, a very basic structure, that’s holding it all together. It’s not just people making noise. And so you can either lean into the complexity or you can lean into the simplicity and the general structure of the music. So I feel it’s actually very open and very, very flexible. And I really like that.

Margaret Fuhrer:
So many different threads to pull on.

Every piece of choreography you made, none of it has been jazz hands dance for entertainment’s sake. There’s always something larger at stake in them. How would you describe the recurrent themes in your dances? What are the ideas that you keep coming back to?

Jamar Roberts:
People. Humans. How we are. Why are we this way? And when we are the ways in which we are, how does that make us feel and what do we do with those feelings, if anything? When you don’t do anything with them, how does the body respond? How does your soul and your heart respond to that stuff?

Margaret Fuhrer:
Human nature generally—that’s enough to explore for a couple of lifetimes.

Jamar Roberts:
I think I’m very interested in what makes us move or tick or care. And when we are pushed to that point, what does that look like? And what does that actually feel like, sensationally, in our bodies, and how does what I’m feeling affect the person that’s standing right next to me? That kind of thing. It’s big, and I never really say this stuff to myself when I’m actually engaged with the work. But I think if I were to say anything about it, that’s definitely it.

I don’t know. I think we’re very complex beings and worthy of exploring—exploring that complexity through dance, you know what I mean? Because dance is like, we use the body, we use this thing to actually express, but the thing that we’re expressing from is the most complicated thing. Maybe I just complexity. I don’t really know. But that’s, I think, the overarching thing for me: People. How are we doing? What are we doing?

Margaret Fuhrer:
Complicated people.

So, I mean, for obvious reasons, a lot of choreographers experimented with video during shutdowns, but the film dances that you made during that period, they seem to spark something new in you creatively, like, new power unlocked. What do you about making dance for film? Or maybe you hate it, I shouldn’t assume.

Jamar Roberts:
No, I like it. I like editing. Editing to me feels like… I mean, I guess you have noticed by this conversation: I really tinkering with things. And editing is… A lot of times when I speak to people that have dabbled into film, editing is the thing that they don’t like. But for me, I just love this tinkering and shifting, engaging and stringing together a narrative through images. It feels very much like painting to me, or writing a novel. I’ve never written a novel, but I read a lot about books and how novels are written because I think that the work of writers and the work of choreographers are similar—the narrative arc and pacing and being in total control of what the audience sees. If you’re in a theater and you’re watching dance, you can want them to see the thing that’s at center, but they could very easily be looking at someone’s glistening costume stage right. You know what I mean? You can’t really control that. But I think that with film, you can really be very specific as well. Those things.

Margaret Fuhrer:
You were literally speaking my language for a while there, the narrative arc.

Jamar Roberts:
Totally.

Margaret Fuhrer:
And so actually Ailey’s going to perform one of those works, Holding Space, live during its City Center season. Which is interesting because…it’s very much a pandemic story that it tells, the dancers literally in their six-by-six boxes, and that cube as a stand-in for an apartment unit. And obviously we’re still in the pandemic, it’s not over, so it’s not that it’s no longer relevant. But this is something I’ve been wondering about, is how dance that was made for this very specific period will look and feel as we start to emerge from it somewhat, as we return to theaters. So I guess the question here is, are you altering the work at all for this live premiere for that reason, or for other reasons?

Jamar Roberts:
I am altering it, but mainly because of the space that it’s being performed in. I’m not really changing many steps or adding five solos or anything that, because the space that it was originally filmed in is the Ailey Citygroup Theater. We closed off the wings, so we just made it one big box, all the way around. The only way that dancers were allowed to exit was all the way downstage where the camera was. So I definitely will have to choose or change how they get on and off stage, or just how the traveling, I guess, happens onstage at City Center as opposed to the Ailey Citygroup Theater. In some ways it’s a bigger theater, so there’s more space, but at the same time, you have to be careful about how the dancers are moving and getting on and off stage, because it could really just change the whole message of… You know what I mean? It’s a very small thing, but I think it’s…

Margaret Fuhrer:
But it’s not.

Jamar Roberts:
…important. I think I’m just really interested in seeing, no matter what changes that I have to make, I think it’s really interested in seeing it live in a different space. That could be good. That could be bad. But I don’t know how it’s going to look at this point, to be honest, but I think I’m interested. I think it’s a good thing.

Margaret Fuhrer:
All right. So leaving Ailey as a dancer now, you’ve come back before but this time it’s for real.

Jamar Roberts:
For real.

Margaret Fuhrer:
How did you know? Here’s the clichéd retirement question: How did you know this was the moment?

Jamar Roberts:
My body. My body said, “Stop!” That was really the main thing. The company tours a lot, it’s a lot of work there, a lot of pieces to be done of different types and different styles. And I danced a lot, I think, in my career, and the way I danced was very heavy. I think if the choreography says throw yourself to the ground, I would throw myself to the ground with full abandon. And I think I might have just done that a little too much, too often—which I absolutely loved and I do not regret, and that would be fine, I think, if I were one of those dancers that was really into taking care of their bodies and going to PT and stretching often and doing all the great things. But I was never that. And I think that’s actually one of the downsides of growing up as a competition kid. No one’s saying, “Do that knee fall, and then if it hurts, go to PT.” They’re just like, “Tape it up. We got five more routines to compete.” You know what I mean?

Margaret Fuhrer:
“Go change your costume.” Yeah. [laughter]

Jamar Roberts:
So the whole culture of wellness in dance, I just didn’t grow up in it. And so it was just something that I never really took to. And even when I tried, I was just like, “This is boring and I can’t.” So I think over time it really affected my body. I’m not crippled or anything, but it’s definitely not as comfortable to dance for long periods of time, for full seasons, so that’s how I knew.

Margaret Fuhrer:
Did the pandemic contribute to that at all? Was it like…

Jamar Roberts:
No, it didn’t. I was hurting long before the pandemic. [laughter]

Margaret Fuhrer:
So the official press release line is that you’re stopping performing to focus on choreography, which I’m sure is true. But given your wealth of other interests, are you making room to explore other non dance things too?

Jamar Roberts:
Yeah. That’s a very limiting, but succinct and true, statement. And you’ll probably even still see me dancing a little bit. It just won’t be a full-on switch leap or anything that. It’ll just be more moving one hand for an hour, that kind of thing.

And other things as well, absolutely. I don’t know what they are. I don’t really have any driving impulses or ideas at the moment, but that definitely doesn’t mean that they won’t show up. I’m just working on three major dance projects at the moment.

Margaret Fuhrer:
That’ll do it. Well, let’s talk a little bit about those three dance projects. What’s on the horizon? What are you working on right now?

Jamar Roberts:
Well, as you mentioned, there’s Holding Space that I’m re-staging, which is tough because there are a lot of steps in there. I actually watched it before going into the rehearsal for the re-staging and I was really overwhelmed by it. There’s a lot of steps and they don’t really repeat very often. So there’s that, and then actually putting it on a stage, and there’s making these little changes.

And there is the Ailey/Fordham BFA, I’m making a piece for the senior class, and I’m really trying to engage with them in a way that I would with the main company, because they’re seniors and they’re about to go into the dance world, so I really felt it was important to give them that experience that is true to what that world is or what the work is like there.

And then there’s New York City Ballet, I think I go into rehearsals in couple weeks. So that’s happening.

Margaret Fuhrer:
You were on the cover of Dance Magazine earlier this year. And the story included this quote from Robert Battle, from the Ailey director, about how he’ll sometimes see you and know that you’re “brewing,” was the word that he used—that ideas are percolating. I think he meant, in that context, dance ideas. But at this inflection point in your career, which is coinciding with this inflection point in the wider world too, I’m wondering in a bigger-picture sense, what ideas and questions are brewing in you? What are you ruminating on right now?

Jamar Roberts:
You know I’m a very honest person, so to answer this question…

Margaret Fuhrer:
Is dangerous? [laughter]

Jamar Roberts:
No, it’s not dangerous. It’s cool.

I think one of the bigger questions is… I’m on what feels like such a fast track right now. Everything feels a little bit speedy. And when that happens, I think for me there’s this desire to want to slow down. So when I think of slowing down, it comes with questions like, So is this it? You’re just going to make steps until you die? You’re just going to be on the fast track forever? Where is this going to go? How is this going to move with you as you mature? Even in the last year, I feel like the amount of exhaustion or effort that has to be put into everything, it wears on you, especially energetically. So I’m thinking of like, okay, if you are still doing this 10 years down the line, how are you going to manage that? And what’s that going to look in terms of the work that you’re making?

I don’t know. I’m asking questions like that because I think it would be nice to prepare, instead of getting to the age of 50 and being like, “I’m done with this.” You know what I mean? If I can anticipate what will be the tougher points, then I can start to do the work to smooth them out now. For example, I’m feeling… I used to demonstrate every single step for every single piece I’ve ever made up until now. And now I’m just like, “Oh God. You’re basically a dancer again.” So if you plan on doing this for a couple more years, how are you going to manage? How are you going to save your body? You know what I mean? So I’m thinking about things like assistants, which are tricky for me, just because I to have a lot of control over everything and…finding that right person or that special person to relinquish some of that control over to, can be interesting.

Things like that. There’s another thing that I’m circling around that’s big picture like, “What are you doing?” [laughter]

Margaret Fuhrer:
Oh, just that? [laughter]

Jamar Roberts:
What are you doing bigger picture? What are you doing and why are you doing it? Are you even making a dent? I think that largely, maybe there’s an aspect of the work that I make that wants to heal or take care or bring awareness to this feeling, or, I’m aware of this situation. So it can then incite some type of taking care of whatever the situation may be. So I’m thinking of… I’m rambling, but that’s totally fine because I’m going to get to the point. I’m thinking of, what is the issue now with dance or where do you feel dance falls short, and how and what are you doing with your work that you think can help level things up a little bit or help? I’m thinking about that. That was really, really, really big, but you asked me.

Margaret Fuhrer:
I wanted big. Why does dance matter? Why does what I’m doing matter? That’s sort of… And I feel those are the kinds of questions that when you’re on the treadmill that is being a performer, you often don’t have time to fully consider.

Jamar Roberts:
Oh, but I did, all the time. [laughter]

Margaret Fuhrer:
Oh, and finally, I didn’t even ask you yet—what are you dancing at your farewell show? I know Holding Space will be performed. It sounds like there’s some Revelations in there. What else do you have?

Jamar Roberts:
As far as I know, I’m doing a little solo that I’m making on myself. That’s all I know.

Margaret Fuhrer:
Well, thank you so much, Jamar. I really appreciate you taking the time and your willingness to go big on these answers, because they were big questions.

Jamar Roberts:
Oh no, these are the types of interviews that I always want, to be honest. I have a really hard time with smaller questions. So thank you.

Margaret Fuhrer:
Well, looking forward to crying along with everybody else at your final show, and to seeing what else you have next.

Jamar Roberts:
Thank you.

[pause]

A big thanks again to Jamar. That farewell performance of his will be happening on December 9th as part of Ailey’s New York City Center season, which as he mentioned will also include the stage premiere of his film work “Holding Space.” We’ve included links with more information about all of that in the show notes.

And thanks again to all of you for subscribing to The Dance Edit Extra. I’ll see you back here in two weeks for a new episode. Enjoy your weekend, everyone.