Loco-Motion Dance Theatre for Children
I cannot thank you enough for inviting and treating us to the performance last night. It was one of the most powerful, empowering child-centered, moving performance programs I have ever experienced. I've been wanting to see a Loco-Motion performance for a few years since I have been hearing such rave reviews from parents. You were right about the impact and importance of Measurements, the piece on standardized testing -- I think that needs to be posted on youtube. It will go viral! I think that it needs to be performed on the steps of City Hall or Albany or even the White House when the legislators are getting ready to vote about these sort of tests.
-- E. J.
This was our first Loco-Motion performance and we are so blown away by your work. What an amazing experience for all who were present. I was moved by every dance. I'm a youth worker by profession, and you have all of the best elements of what young people need in your classes. Thank you for giving Devan a high-quality experience where she can learn and demonstrate her skills. She is one of the young people who is chased by the acronym labels, so profoundly expressed in your dance, and at Loco-Motion she is free.
-- Susan H. and Debo
Another simply marvelous production--the usual impeccable choice of provocative music, ingenious costume design, and innovative choreography. And then there was the minor detail of the abilities you've managed to draw out of our kids and hone to performance level!! Thanks a million for the energy and love you pour into every production, every year. I couldn't at all absorb the claim that you'd been doing this for 20 years. Seems utterly impossible! Thank you so very much for ensuring our daughter has this safe and caring venue in which to explore her place in the physical world around her and revel in the impact she can have on it through the joy of dance.
--Simon and Ann
Loco-Motion is so much more than just an after-school program--it is this great, life-changing, life-enhancing experience. And all the kids who are in it are so lucky.
I'm still at the show and everyone is hugging everyone and no one wants to leave because it was amazing. I loved every bit of it from opening to the cartoons to the singing angel to your beautiful talented daughter to the bows which is the most uplifting life affirming exclamation point to it all.
I want to thank you properly for the wonder in our family’s life that is Loco-Motion. Once again, we enjoyed the concert tremendously. I am assured by all of our party in the audience that they were regaled with the usual fare of stunning dance work and choreography, dazzling and innovative costume design, and challenging dance numbers backed by a thought-provoking musical selection. For my part, I was, for the first time, less in my seat than in the wings or backstage, and was privy, therefore, to quite a different dimension than I’d ever experienced—the underbelly of the performance. I was certainly swept away by the excitement, the stress, the anxieties, the bustle, the panic----all such a delicious distraction, as I struggled to stay on top of my mission—to be of some vague help! And then your pep talk in the aisle, as the whole school piled atop each other, huddled together in the trenches, readying for battle. As you chided your charges for unruliness, I felt a huge collective calm settle, but that calm quickly gave way to a soaring of spirits, as you issued your battle-cry, and as your troops scrambled to their seats and their spots backstage, in readiness to burst upon the audience with all that they, under your capable stewardship, had struggled for months to achieve. Last moments---whispers in the wings---and then it’s time. Oh, to be a cog in that incredible machine! What a feeling for each player--every group knowing precisely when and from where to enter, when and how to leave; every group so perfectly poised to dance until their little hearts would burst; every heart in the audience bursting, too, with rightful pride. And the show certainly did go on, as large and mind-blowing as ever. No words to convey the chest-tightening, lump-in-throat feeling that makes it hard for me even to type right now. Lisa--I have always known what you put together is each is a phenomenal spectacle, but this year drove home to me anew what a precious, life-changing experience every step of the process is for our children. How blessed we are that you invited our little girl, Anneka, into your glad company. How very blessed we are that our child will grow up with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
--Anneka, Aidan, Simon and Ann
Just wanted to thank you both so much for encouraging Rae all these years and having the amazing Loco-Motion!! This has been the greatest thing for her and I know you were a HUGE part of the reason that she got accepted to Laguardia. And Lisa thank you for writing the recommendation letter for her and being the voice of reason and support during the extremely stressful auditioning process. It really helped her get through it all.
--Susan and Andy B
Just wanted to reach out & say how amazing the show was on Sunday evening, in every possible way — from the strength and confidence of your dancers to the wit and humanity and politics of the dances themselves. Bravo.
Every year I think there is no way you can possibly top the performance from the year before and every year you prove me wrong. The show was everything I could have wanted for the audience and for the dancers. It was the perfect blend of unbelievable adorableness (cats), poignant social commentary (TV, your town, freedom, another brick in the wall) and beautiful dance (mosaica, passage, wade in the water). I had two pieces that really, really moved me-- for different reasons. I was thoroughly entertained by the completely original "A Dance about a Dance" because it captured so much of the dancers' personalities and interests. I loved the spoken parts that showed what the heck goes in a "tween's" brain when asked to contemplate a big question like: what is dance? It was funny and charming and dead on. And knowing so many of those kids, I know that you weren't putting words in their mouth-- those were their unique voices. And the whole thing rang true. The other number that just astonished me was "I was Meant for the Stage". Oh, to see those boys dancing! It was like I was watching a performance of all the reasons that Ezra is in your class-- right there on the stage. As the dancers "grew" they became more and more poised and confident and proud. And then to have all the boys up there for the final dance was stunning. I counted 21 boys! All moving in different ways, all moving to their own music, but in some way together. It was really powerful for me, the mother of a boy. Whether all of them were actually meant for the stage wasn't the point. In that moment they all were.
You are magic. Those kids shine so bright. All of them. Thank you. How many kids have you helped be better people over the last 20 years? It really is pretty staggering. You are truly an inspiration.
Ward and I are still quite stunned by what an amazing spectrum of dance you inspire from the children and teens involved in LoCoMotion. Saturday night was why we choose to raise our children in the middle of NYC. We cannot imagine that kind of expression (and the myriad of issues being addressed) happening in many other places in this country -- at least not where we're from. Thank you.
-- Sue & Ward (and Yineth and Tavio)
Thank you as always for the amazing show this past Saturday night! It was beautiful and I cried and cried and cried. So moving to see the old videos and to have the graduates come back and dance with their younger images. I loved the theme and the music and most esp of course all of the dances.
As always, I leave feeling amazed at how you guys can put on such a great show that the kids have so much ownership over. They are truly involved in creating their dances and you also teach them how to be skilled choreographers so what they create is beautiful and moving and real art. And I know that is no small feat. Also, you provide so much opportunity for them to be peer leaders and Rae and Lola have both benefitted from that over the years.
And I esp loved what you said at the end about the importance of creating art together as a community--you said it better of course, but I loved it. So I know I say it every year, but I am eternally grateful that my daughters have had the opportunity to not only be involved with your amazing dance program, but that we have you guys in our lives and that they get to have such great role models as you two: strong, talented smart women who are doing what they want to do and at such a high level of expertise and skill. Thank you, thank you!
-- Susan B.
The first time I was called upon to pick up my 8 year old grandson from his after school dance program, I had no clue that a simple errand would rock my world. Two years later, with two grandsons enrolled in Loco-Motion Dance Theatre for Children, I am ever joyful to retrieve one or the other, for I know for a few brief moments on that day, I will be transported as I stand in the shadows witnessing the spirits and the bodies of the all the kids, soar. What is so extraordinary about this program that Matthew (now 10) and Max (7) NEVER want to miss for ANY reason, including strep infection, 102 fever and snow squalls? Lisa Pilato, Artistic Director, is pure magic. She is diminutive in stature – can be mistaken in a crowd of kids as being one of them. But then you realize that she is the source of that encouraging, guiding, cheerleading voice that cues the movement, infuses the enthusiasm, sparks the bursts of creativity that move or still the sea of arms and legs and torsos. Whatever may have happened at school during the day, or whatever awaits or doesn’t wait for many of these kids at home, for this special time after school, the playing field is level and wide open to the possibilities and opportunities of self-expression and movement. The kids spring from a veritable rainbow of socio-economic and ethnic home bases. They are all sizes, shapes, ages and degrees of ‘talent.’ What a phenomenal showcase you provide for them at the year end extravaganza - highlighting all the kids, from the smallest to the oldest, including past alums who return every year, apparently for the ‘love’ of it all. For the past three years, the Miller Theatre at Columbia University has housed these stellar productions. I cannot begin to convey the pure joy and incredible artistry of these shows. I have a small idea of the herculean machinations that go on behind the scenes by you and Lisa and all the parent volunteers and contributors to sustain this program on such a high level. I suspect (although, who knows?!) that the futures of Matthew and Max may not include professional dance careers, but there are life experiences which resonate in unfathomable ways. This time with Loco-Motion Dance Theatre for Children will stay with all of us without a doubt. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, to the tips of our dancing shoes.
-- Susan H.
My appreciation for Loco-Motion’s many years of service to New York City children of all economic standing, races and ethnicities comes from two places in me. One is as a mother. The other is as a professional grant-maker at the MAP Fund. As a parent, what I witness in Loco-Motion’s process and performances is a singular commitment to honoring the individual mind, body and spirit of each child, and guiding that child to discover his or her deepest self through established and emerging forms of dance and movement theater. This is radical education in the best, most literal sense. It’s rooted in historical and contemporary forms of dance as communicated by Loco-Motion’s deeply knowledgeable staff, while at the same time creating an environment in which the child encounters and comes to own these forms on her own terms. The result is not only remarkably good dance for the age level, but, more important, a degree of self-knowledge and self-ownership among students that’s fundamentally rooted in the body, well beyond language, and therefore nearly impossible to disrupt. As mother and a citizen this is precisely the method of arts education I hope for, and the kind I believe we need in this time of societal upheaval and seemingly infinite external stimuli. As a grantmaker, too, I appreciate Loco-Motion. I run a national funding program that provides over $1 million a year to new works in dance, theater, and music. I have reviewed many thousands of funding proposals from dance makers. It couldn’t be more evident to me that to tell our nation’s stories in any meaningful way, artists need to do more than inherit historical forms whole cloth. They must wrestle with them freshly, imbuing them with their own generational life experience and unique personal spirit. Otherwise what they make will speak to no one, and the very forms we seek to preserve die in the effort. This “personal” piece of the artmaking puzzle is so often overlooked, even in even the most expensive training. At Loco-Motion, it’s the pillar of the program. In short, Loco-Motion is making better citizens and better artists. We urgently need both, and I hope you will support their effort.
-- Moira Brennan
I am the Movement teacher at P.S. 3 in Greenwich Village. I work closely with Loco-Motion Dance Theatre for Children. Lisa Pilato (Loco-Motion’s Artistic Director and teacher) has often helped me develop curriculum and is active in teaching unique workshops and staging performances for us. In my opinion, Loco-Motion performances rival the work of the best children's companies in the country but what makes the dances even more impressive is that they are choreographed and conceptualized by children. The work is political, intellegent and always inspiring. Over the past 15 years she has taught me so much about dance education. She is a child-centered teacher with an uncanny ability to bring out the artist in each child. Lisa encourages creativity and joy in dance and it always starts with the child. Hundreds of children have been inspired and challenged by Loco-Motion’s innovative curriculum, a great number of them are students from P.S. 3. Many of them have been given full tuition scholarships and stay at Loco-Motion from kindergarten until they graduate from high school. Each class of kids becomes it's own artistic community and they spend their childhood and teenage years collaborating in a way that most artists never have a chance to do. 13 years of working and growing together is unusual and a unique aspect of the school's mission. Ms. Pilato has an amazing ability to use movement and acting to speak to the issues facing children and teenagers. She teaches them to express themselves and in the process creates thoughtful young artists. One of the graduates of Loco-Motion recently came to P.S. 3 to teach a workshop for me in my dance room. She is also a graduate of P.S. 3 and it was a pleasure to have her come and give back to the community so joyfully.
I cannot recommend Loco-Motion more highly. My respect for their work is heartfelt and deep.
-- Jennie Miller