BWW Interview: Mickela Mallozzi of Bare Feet- A Unique Take on Travel Through Dance

BWW Interview: Mickela Mallozzi of Bare Feet- A Unique Take on Travel Through Dance

BWW Interview: Mickela Mallozzi of Bare Feet- A Unique Take on Travel Through Dance

Bare Feet is a 3-time New York Emmy® Award-winning travel and dance series. The show follows executive producer, dancer, and host Mickela Mallozzi, as she travels throughout different parts of the world. What makes this show unique, is that she features, discovers, and highlights the rich dance and cultural traditions of the locals of each region she visits.

I had the opportunity to speak with Mickela Mallozzi about the show and the new upcoming season.

Can you talk about what the show Bare Feet is and how you came up with the concept?

Bare Feet is a travel and dance series that follows me on my trips. The show came about by accident. Travelling has been a hobby of mine. I actually try to make a point to travel internationally at least once a year. And being a dancer, I just wanted to be able to travel and learn as many dances as I could. I started a blog where I could talk about the different experiences I had. Then, it became a YouTube series. I later pitched the idea to NYC media and they liked the concept. And 7 ½ years later, it became a TV series.

What about this project has been meaningful for you?

One of the most meaningful parts of this process is being able to interact with complete strangers and having them allow me into the intimate spaces of their culture. The folks that I'm interacting with are not professional dancers. These are local everyday people that are using dance to celebrate their culture. And it's been amazing to be able to make such profound connections with each and every person in a short amount of time.

Another part is the positive response from the viewers. It's been so overwhelming. It's been a way for people to make connections while watching the show. And I hope to be able to encourage others to do the same and go beyond being a tourist.

What can we expect in season two?

The theme for season two is dance in New York City. I wanted to feature the diverse ethnic stories and the things that are iconic to the city. I wanted to show what New York means to me and how we as New Yorkers view our home.

Some of the cultures/parts of town in this season includes Chinatown and their traditional dances, going to Harlem- which has long history of arts and culture- and dancing with Jason Samuels Smith, being in the Bronx and dancing with Orlando Marin- the Last Mambo King, dancing on the set of a Broadway show, interacting with a small Bolivian community, and more.

I'm excited to be able to showcase my home. These are the stories of American immigrants. This is showing how they are preserving and passing on their culture through dance. They are keeping it alive, because if they stop dancing, this (the dance, the language, the food, and culture), it all stops here.

Why do you feel a show like this is important to have?

I think it's important to show our diversity, but also for us to see we all have these commonalities of being human. Dance doesn't discriminate- it's a human basic necessity of expression. It's also about making this work accessible and supporting the arts. Showcasing this work at this moment is timely, but was not planned. We started this process way before.

This show is not scripted. These are real experiences I am having. And I think there is a need for something authentic and real. With all the noise of the media (and social media), our human connections can get lost. But there is a need for this. People are hungry for it.

If you haven't seen the show Bare Feet, I strongly encourage you to do so! It is truly a unique take on traveling through the lens of dance and celebrates the diversity of society as a whole. To learn more about the TV series, Mickela, or access to watch season one, please visit www.travelbarefeet.com. And be sure to watch season two, when it is released on PBS later this summer in July 2017.

Photo Credit: Academy of Hellenic Paideia in Astoria, Queens, photo by Lina Plioplyte


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Caryn Cooper Caryn Cooper is an arts administrator, educator and performer from Long Island, NY. She began her dance training at a young age studying ballet in the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) technique and other dance forms such as tap, jazz, hip hop, modern and West African. She has had the opportunity to perform at various venues in the Greater New York City Area including, Radio City Music Hall, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, the 92Y, Ailey CitiGroup Theater, Central Park, and The Wild Project. Administratively, she has worked for a number of arts organizations including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico, and the New York City Center. Currently at Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, she works to plan arts education programs for schools and seniors in underserved communities throughout Queens and the New York City Metropolitan area. Caryn is currently a Moving for Life Certified Instructor (MFLCI) where she uses dance to help breast cancer recovery patients and those dealing with pain caused by chronic illnesses. She is currently pursuing a certification as a BodyMind Dancing (BMD) Instructor, under the direction of Dr. Martha Eddy, to guide students as they reflect and learn about the 3-dimenionality and repatterning of the body. Caryn is a member of Americans for the Arts, the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), the New York State Dance Education Association (NYSDEA), and sits on the Young Professionals Committee of The Possibility Project and the Board of Trustees for Moving for Life, Inc. She is also a Contributing writer for BroadwayWorld Dance. She is the proud recipient of the 2016 Field Diversity Award and the 2017 Jessica Wilt Memorial Scholarship through the Americans for the Arts.