Last weekend, I was utterly blown away by Mr. Abdul Latif‘s dance “A Year From Now Ago” at Winning Works 2015. The moving story and dance moves blended so well together; I had to find out more about the talented choreographer behind the dance.
Meet Abdul Latif through BTSCelebs’ exclusive in-depth virtual interview below:
BTSCelebs: What piqued your interest in dance?
Abdul Latif: Works of high production value, that were technically exhilarating and viscerally captivating took hold of me from the start of my earliest remembrances. I saw that in the original film production of Annie, which as a child I watched thousands of times, in the film Flashdance, from first seeing Mr. Balanchine’s Firebird, Mr. Ailey’s Cry and through the dancers “piquing” (no pun intended) around the original fountain on the television show Fame. Each of these and all of them together coalesced in my mind and created a world of wonder that seemed worth everything in my taking the chance to explore what it made me realize was possible in all I was feeling inside.
Is there a particular choreographer you would love to collaborate with?
Most of who I’d love to collaborate with have passed away, the great Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins. My all time favorite Ulysses Dove would be the ultimate. However, there is Billy Forsythe, Robert Battle and Elliot Feld, but I’d probably more so use it as post-graduate study and that would be less collaborating and more independent-study like. The two that leap to the forefront of my thoughts are more creative and dance directors such as: Jaime King and Baz Luhrmann.
Why did you create “A Year From Now Ago”?
As I was losing my final parent and I watched my Mother lay in the hospital bed and be attended to by nurses and doctors at scheduled times from morning and through the night in a routine like fashion and order, I realized I wasn’t simply watching her pass away. I was watching a ballet be given to me.
How did you decide each step in the dance?
I am big on a preparatory process and vigorously implement workshop rehearsals for my development of the movement and choreographic phrases that either start with me alone in the studio and then involve adding my two artistic associates and rehearsal assistants: Alecia Hill and Nikolas Owens, as well as, other collaborative artists I’ve come up training alongside and enjoying playing with.
Is there a particular stage production or recording artist’s music video you would love to choreograph? Why?
I spent the time just before and during the years of my residency notating a tens of treatments for works I’m prepared to create. I still do it now, there is no end to the excavation of an artistic idea or the development of a new creative epiphany, it was part of what meditatively held me together as I sat in the hospital during the period of my parents passing and now it’s what zen-like releases me from whatever sense of loss creeps in and attempts to make their departures unpleasant. The work grounds me and propels me, and therefore it’s sacred in a way where I don’t really talk about what I’d love to work on until I’ve actually begun working on it. However, seeing how my first professional job was choreographing the Chris Robinson music video Off The Books for The Beatnuts, (Terry Marling of Hubbard Street II played a remix of it during one of my sit ins on his rehearsal – they’re awesome and inclusive that way and he’s just cool cat for being the example he of an artist and professional he is.) but the song and video were a hit and any thing to come up and follow after it in that artistic genre would have to be hot. So…I’ll say Childish Gambino (such a collab would be insanely fun), Justin Timberlake and Usher (I think it’s time we have this Battle Royal between their respective possess, respectfully of course), Miss Beyonce indeed because there is no one like her – PERIOD! And the bands: Gotye, Imagine Dragons and Kings of Leon, because there’s a movement narrative to be told in and through their musical work that would be impactful, groundbreaking and touching.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?
There are the operas A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Madama Butterfly that I’ve been approached about doing this summer and the scheduling of are in the works with being finalized. I’m a huge proponent of arts-integration and creative-education based workshops. It is what the other half of my residency time at Lincoln Center was spent studying and developing as part of my post-residency aspirations. Equally it is a major part of what the Rockefeller Foundation got behind and funded beyond that residency tenure period in their fellowship and those “arts-ed” endeavors go into full swing these next two months up and down the east coast from the early child education to the higher education scholastic environments. We’re carefully moving into the next commissions because know even more is being presented and I don’t believe in saying “No”, if it’s something I’m drawn to doing, but everything must have its proper time and due place to be fully envisioned in me, come to a whole realization through the development process and able to present itself as an actuality on the stage, screen or in the music I compose.
I hope Mr. Latif returns to Chicago soon, and choreographs one of the many great productions in the Windy City.
*BTSCelebs sends a special thanks to Abdul Latif, Alecia Hill and The Silverman Group for the interview and photos*