A look at the world of dance through the lens of contemporary female choreographers working in very different styles: Pam Tanowitz, Ashley Bouder, and Camille A. Brown.

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> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO NYC ARTS.

I'M PAULA ZAHN AT THE TISCH STUDIOS AT LINCOLN CENTER.

FROM ITS BEGINNINGS OVER A HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

AMERICAN MODERN DANCE WAS GREATLY INFLUENCED BY SUCH NOTABLE WOMEN AS ISODDORE DUNCAN AND OTHER PIONEERS WHOSE WORK IS BEING PRODUCED TODAY.

A SUBJECT MATTER WHICH WAS AND STILL IS DOMINATED BY MEN.

TONIGHT WE LOOK AT THE WORLD OF DANCE THROUGH THE LENS OF THREE CONTEMPORARY FEMALE CHOREOGRAPHERS WHO ARE NOW TAKING THE LEAD, EACH ONE WORKING IN A VERY DIFFERENT STYLE OF MOVEMENT.

PAM TANNOWITZ IS A CHOREOGRAPHER WHOSE JOURNEY TO INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED ARTIST WAS NOT FAST OR EASILY.

ASHLEY RECENTLY FORMED HER OWN COMPANY, THE ASHLEY BOWER PROJECT, TO GIVE WOMEN AND MINORITIES A CHANCE TO CREATE NEW WORKS.

THE CHOREOGRAPHY OF CAMILLE A.

BROWN IS BASED ON SOCIAL DANCE AND IS SEEN ON BROADWAY AND TELEVISION.

HER CONCERT DANCE IS INFUSED WITH ACTIVISM AND STORY TELLING.

I STARTED CHOREOGRAPHIC MY JUNIOR YEAR AT OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY.

IT WAS SOMETHING THAT I FELL INTO IN A CLASS.

AND I REALIZED THAT I LIKE MAKING THINGS MORE THAN BEING IN THINGS.

I LOVED PERFORMING, BUT THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT SOLVING PROBLEMS THAT WAS INTERESTING TO ME.

I WORKED IN NEW YORK FOR OVER 20 YEARS BEFORE I GOT ANY SORT OF RECOGNITION.

I'M ACTUALLY THANKFUL FOR THE FACT THAT I DIDN'T GET THAT MUCH ATTENTION IN THE EARLY CHUNK OF MY CAREER, BECAUSE I WAS ABLE TO CONCENTRATE ON THE ACTUAL MAKING OF DANCE.

INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT OTHER THINGS.

I ALWAYS HAD A DAY JOB TO HAVE MONEY FOR THAT PURPOSE AS WELL.

SO I ALWAYS WORKED FULL TIME AND CHOREOGRAPHED UP UNTIL JUST TWO YEARS AGO.

I'VE BEEN LUCKY TO HAVE GOTTEN A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT GRANTS IN THE PAST COUPLE YEARS, I GOT THE BARISHNAKOV AWARD.

YOU HAVE TO BE SCRAPPY AND CREATIVE.

IT'S HARD, YOU WANT TO FOCUS ON YOUR DANCE, BUT YOU CAN'T IGNORE THAT YOU HAVE TO PUT SOME TIME INTO THE BUSINESS ASPECT OF IT.

DANCERS PLAY A VERY DIGNIFIED ROLE IN MY WORK.

WHEN I WORK WITH A DANCER, I HAVE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM BASICALLY.

IT'S NOT ONLY ABOUT TECHNIQUE.

I ALSO HAVE TO LIKE THEM AND LOVE THEM AS PEOPLE.

YOU SPEND WAY MORE TIME IN THE STUDIO THAN YOU DO PERFORMING.

AND I DON'T REALLY HAVE AUDITIONS.

I'VE HAD ONE OR TWO IN MY LIFE, BUT I USUALLY SEE A DANCER AT A SHOW, AND I'LL FALL IN LOVE WITH THEN, SEEING THEM IN ANOTHER PERSON'S WORK OR JUST MEETING THEM.

I ACTUALLY HIRED SOMEBODY WHO I JUST LIKED TALKING TO.

I LOVE COLLABORATING WITH THEM.

I PLAN OUT A BUNCH OF THINGS.

BUT THE MORE PLANNED YOU ARE, THE MORE YOU CAN GO OFF YOUR PLAN.

I LOVE ACCIDENTS.

AND I ACTUALLY INCORPORATE A LOT OF THINGS THAT ARE MISTAKES THAT ARE WAY MORE INTERESTING, I THINK THAN WHAT I ORIGINALLY THOUGHT OF.

I LOVE TO MAKE SPACE FOR ALL THAT.

UNISON SHOULDER STEP.

THAT'S WHAT I'LL CALL IT.

AND A LOT OF MY WORK IS MY STEPS, AND MY VISION, BUT THERE'S A LOT OF FREEDOM IN THAT.

AND THEY INFUSE IT WITH THEMSELVES, SO A LOT OF TIMES WHEN YOU LOOK AT MY DANCES, THE DANCERS LOOK DIFFERENT.

AT PROECH TO THE MOVEMENT IS THE SAME, BUT THE ACTUAL EXECUTION OF IT IS DIFFERENT.

AND THAT'S INTERESTING TO ME.

MODERN DANCE WAS FOUNDED BY WOMEN.

AND BALLET, THERE'S ALWAYS BEEN MEN IN CHARGE.

YOU DON'T JUST GET A CHOREOGRAPHER.

YOU DON'T JUST GET A JUSTIN PECK OR A CHRISTOPHER WIELDEN, THEY WERE CULTIVATED.

THEY HAD CHANCES TO EXPERIMENT.

AND SO WHAT HAPPENS SOMETIMES IS THAT WHEN PEOPLE SAY, WHERE ARE THE WOMEN BALLET CHOREOGRAPHERS, THEY HIRE A BUNCH, AND THEN THE WORK IS NOT AS DEEP OR AS -- FOR -- BUT IT WAS THAT CHOREOGRAPHERS SECOND DANCE.

HOW IS IT GOING TO BE?

THE VARIATIONS HAD TO BE ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC.

THE PIANO HAD TO BE IN THE STAGE.

THAT'S WHAT THE WHOLE PIECE WAS GOING TO BE ABOUT.

I KNEW THE PIANO COULD NOT BE LIKE EVERY OTHER PIANO BALLET.

JERRY ROBBINS DID THAT.

WHAT AM I GOING TO SAY THAT'S DIFFERENT?

IN THE VARIATION, THE DANCERS, NOT ONLY RELATE TO EACH OTHER, BUT THEY RELATE TO SIMILAR -- SHE'S THERE, AND IN REHEARSAL, THEY THOUGHT IT WAS WEIRD IF THEY DIDN'T LOOK AT HER.

THEY HAD TO ACKNOWLEDGE HER, I TRIED TO FIGURE OUT SORT OF NEW ANSWERED SUBTLE WAYS FOR THEM TO ACKNOWLEDGE HER IN THE BEGINNING.

AND THEN THERE IS ONE POINT WHERE A DANCER SITS NEXT TO HER.

IT'S REALLY ALL ABOUT MAKING IT WORK, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE A GOOD DANCE, THAT'S WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO IS FOCUS ON THE WORK.

AND WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY.

AND IT'S HARD TO MAKE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING.

SO YOU HAVE TO BE REALLY HELLBENT ON DOING IT, BECAUSE IT'S HARD.

IN 2015, NEW YORK CITY BALLET HAD A FALL GALA.

OUR FALL GALA ALWAYS HAS SEVERAL PROGRAMS OUT.

FRONT OF OUR THEATER, A BLACK AND WHITE POSTER OF THE HEAD SHOTS.

THEY WERE ALL WHITE MEN.

UP UNTIL THAT POINT I HADN'T REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT THAT, BUT THERE IT WAS LITERALLY STARING YOU IN THE FACE, ALL THESE WHITE MEN MAKING NEW BALLETS.

NOT ONE OF THEM DIDN'T DESERVE TO BE THERE, BUT AT THE SAME TIME I THOUGHT, WHERE ARE THE WOMEN, THIS IS A WORLD ISSUE.

BUT AS I THOUGHT ABOUT IT, AND THOUGHT ABOUT THE WORLD OF BALLET AND THE WORLD IN GENERAL, I THOUGHT THERE WAS A STATEMENT THAT I COULD MAKE WITH MY PROJECT, SOMETHING THAT MEANT SOMETHING TO ME, AND COULD BE MORE MEANINGFUL IN THE BALLET WORLD.

AND THAT IS PROMOTING WOMEN AND INCLUSION IN MY CHOICES.

SO I STARTED HIRING A BUNCH OF FEMALE CHOREOGRAPHERS, ONLY FEMALE COMPOSERS AND WENT FROM THERE.

I WANTED TO FIRST CREATE MY OWN BALLET, I WANTED TO CHOREOGRAPH.

I USED ALL NEW YORK CITY BALLET DANCERS.

AND I TAKE COMPANY CLASSES EVERY DAY, BASICALLY, I LOOKED AROUND CLASS.

AND, YOU KNOW, EVERYBODY HAS THEIR FAVORITE DANCERS AND THE PEOPLE THEY THINK ARE TALENTED.

AND I APPROACH THE PEOPLE THAT I WANTED TO WORK WITH.

THE BALLET WAS IN FOUR MOVEMENTS, AND EACH ONE WAS BASED ON A DIFFERENT KIND OF NATIONALITY AND NATIONAL DANCE.

SO THE FIRST WAS CALLED WARRIOR AND BASED ON SIDE JUMPING DANCES.

THE SECOND MOVEMENT WAS BASED ON THE MAZURKA, WE INCORPORATED A SHIRT SO WHEN THEY TURNED IT DIDN'T FLAIR OUT AT THE ENDS, IT WAS KIND OF A TEA CUP.

THE THIRD MOVEMENT WAS WHIRLING DURVISHES.

WE TRIED TO HAVE THEM NEVER STOP TURNING, WHICH WAS FUN FOR EIGHT MINUTES.

THE FOURTH MOVEMENT IS CALLED FREEDOM AND BASED ON AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY DANCE.

I WANTED TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED ALSO, AND WANTED TO STEP OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE.

SOY CHOSE TO APPROACH THE MODERN CHOREOGRAPHER WHO HAS HER OWN COMPANY, AND ASKED HER IF SHE WOULD DO A DUET WITH ME.

SARA AND I HAVE BEEN DRESSING ROOMMATES FOR MANY YEARS NOW, AND WE RARELY EVER SHARE THE STAGE.

AT FIRST SARAH AND I REALLY -- WE WERE LAUGHING IN REHEARSAL, BECAUSE WE COULDN'T GET GROUNDED LIKE A MODERN DANCER.

WE COULDN'T STOP POINTING OUR TOES AND TAKE OUR FOCUS DOWN.

WE HAD A LOT OF LAUGHS WITH LIZ, SHE KEPT TELLING US, YOU'RE PERFORMING TO THE BALCONY.

IN MODERN DANCE, WE DON'T DANCE FOR HOUSES THAT BIG.

AND WE DID HAVE SORE QUAD MUSCLES FOR THE FIRST FEW WEEKS WORKING ON THAT.

THE CHALLENGE OF DOING THAT, I FOUND AWESOME TO STEP OUTSIDE OF MY POINT SHOES AND TUTUS AND REALLY GET DOWN ON THE GROUND AND FEEL A DIFFERENT FORM OF DANCE.

AS A BALLET DANCER, YOU HAVE THIS SNOB BY ATTITUDE OF, THIS IS THE MOST DIFFICULT TYPE OF DANCE.

NOT EVERYONE CAN DO BALLET, BUT I FOUND IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO DO MODERN.

AND I DON'T THINK EVERYBODY CAN DO THAT EITHER.

FOR ANY CHOREOGRAPHER, IT'S IMPORTANT TO BE CULTIVATED TO HAVE A MENTOR, TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SUCCEED AND TO FAIL.

I BELIEVE SOCIAL DANCE IS AN ART FORM.

SO THE DEFINITION -- OR MY DEFINITION IS BASICALLY SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS IN A COMMUNITY WHERE PEOPLE ARE SOCIAL.

SO WHEN I'M TEACHING, I USUALLY BREAK UP THE PHRASE SOCIAL DANCE.

AND I ASK PEOPLE, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SOCIAL?

IT MEANS TO INTERACT WITH EACH OTHER.

YOU PUT DANCE.

YOU'RE WORKING, SO THE INDIVIDUALS COME TOGETHER AND THEY CREATE A COMMUNITY.

BUT IF YOU LOOK, EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN INDIVIDUAL TAKE ON THAT, AND THAT'S WHAT SOCIAL DANCE IS.

IT PLACES US IN A MOMENT.

IT HELPS US EXPRESS OURSELVES, RESIST IN A LOT OF CASES.

AND TO COMMUNICATE WHEN WORDS CAN'T BE SAID WHEN WORDS AREN'T ENOUGH.

SO WHEN I'M WORKING IN MY COMPANY AND WE'RE GENERATING MOVEMENT, IT IS VERY MUCH -- I ALIGN MYSELF VERY MUCH WITH WHAT SOCIAL DANCE IS IN TERMS OF THE STRUCTURE, AND THE INDIVIDUAL CREATIVITY.

IT'S NOT JUST ENOUGH FOR ME TO HAVE A PHRASE AND TEACH IT TO THEM.

THE PHRASE HAS TO COME ALIVE BASED ON THE CHOICES OF THE INDIVIDUAL.

AND IT'S ORGANIC.

AND A LOT OF TIMES WHEN I'M COMING IN THE STUDIO, I HAVE AN IDEA.

BUT I'M ALSO LETTING MYSELF BE OKAY WITH NOT ALWAYS KNOWING.

AND DISCOVERING.

AND I THINK THAT'S -- FOR ME, EVEN THOUGH IT'S CHALLENGING AND IT'S SCARY, IN MY PROCESS, THE UNKNOWN.

THERE'S A DANGER, BUT THAT'S HOW YOU FIND YOUR MATERIALS.

MY WORK IS FOR EVERYONE.

BUT IT'S FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

THERE ARE THINGS THAT HAPPEN WITHIN THE BLACK COMMUNITY THAT PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF THE COMMUNITY DON'T NECESSARILY UNDERSTAND.

AND I'M OKAY WITH THAT.

BLACK GIRL, I HAD A DUALITY GOING ON, I WANTED IT TO BE CULTURALLY SPECIFIC.

BUT I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT UNIVERSAL THEMES, ANYONE WHO WAS NOT BLACK OR NOT A GIRL COULD GO LOOK, I SEE MY CHILDHOOD OR I HAD A SISTER.

I'M A MOTHER, I CAN CONNECT.

I WAS WATCHING ONE OF THE LIVE MUSICALS AND GOING, WOW!

IT WOULD BE GREAT TO CHOREOGRAPH FOR THAT.

THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN ANY TIME SOON, I FREAKED OUT IN THE BEGINNING WHEN I GOT THE CALL.

THEY WERE BASICALLY OFFERING ME THE JOB.

DAVID LAVOE HAD A VERY POWERFUL REAL RAW VISION.

HE WANTED A DECONSTRUCTED KIND OF VERSION OF TAKING A TABLE APART AND ONE OF THE THINGS I THOUGHT WAS MOVING AND SPINNING.

WE WERE SAYING IT'S BOLTS OF ENERGY THAT HAS TO PIERCE THROUGH THE SCREEN.

THIS IS DIFFERENT.

WRAS WE'RE IN LIVE THEATER, YOU'RE FEELING IT.

IT'S RIGHT THERE WITH YOU, BUT BECAUSE IT'S TELEVISION.

WE HAVE TO BE AWARE THAT OUR PRESENCE NEEDS TO BE MORE EXPANSIVE THAN EVER.

♪♪

WHAT'S NEXT IS -- I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO BALANCE A CAREER IN CONCERT DANCE AND ALSO MUSICAL THEATER.

I'M ALSO INTERESTED IN DIRECTING AND CHOREOGRAPHING IN MUSICAL THEATER, WE'RE GOING TO LIFT THAT UP INTO THE SPACE AND HOPEFULLY THAT COMES DOWN WITH OPPORTUNITIES FOR THAT.

FOR ME, IT'S ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITIES, DEFINITELY, BUT IT'S ALSO ABOUT THE GROWTH.

AND IF I'M GROWING I CAN'T ASK FOR ANYTHING ELSE.