Spotlight: Juan Carlos Claudio, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Modern Dance, University of Utah


1. What is your background in dance?
I danced professionally with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company for over 10 years, SB Dance for over 15 years, one year with Seán Curran Company and Keith Johnson & Dancers in New York. I am currently a full time faculty member in the Department of Modern Dance at the University of Utah. My research emphasis is in Social Justice and Community Engagement through Dance.

2. How did you get involved with Movement Exchange?
I discovered a poster pertaining to an open call for Movement Exchange at the University of Utah. After reading through it I was immediately interested and wanted to get more information. I was able to speak to Anna Pasternak and knew I just had to be involved in any way I could. Her bravery, dedication and enthusiasm were contagious.

3. What is your fondest memory of your exchange?
My fondest memories over the last three years of the exchanges have been watching the transformation that took place within my students. They all looked like scared little chicks when they began the exchange and within a matter of two weeks they grew into self assured artists and compassionate individuals. I also loved seeing them break walls of stereotypes, shedding assumptions and embracing confidence with the unknown. They were no longer afraid… of anything.

4. How do you define Dance Diplomat?
To me a Dance Diplomat is an individual who embraces differences, understands diversity, acknowledges the possibility for change, is inclusive and promotes social justice as well as civic engagement through the medium of dance.

5. What has Movement Exchange taught you?
I am a testament that the experiences provided by the Movement Exchange teaches one to be caring, complete acceptance of others, humility, collaboration, reciprocity, understanding and most of all LOVE!

6. Who is your favorite choreographer?
I can’t just name one because I have so many, but some of my favorite choreographers are Pina Bausch, Wayne McGregor, Crystal Pite and Ohad Naharin.

7. What is the most compelling performance you have ever seen?
I served as a student assistant to the Dance Theatre Wuppertal during the creation of Nur Du by Pina Bausch while attending UCLA in 1995. Due to the relationship and deep connection I developed with the dancers, every time I see the company on stage it is like seeing my family members doing exactly what they love. It is truly moving and I get overwhelmed with joy each time I have the opportunity to see a performance.
Another company that gets my creative juices flowing when I see their performances is DV8. The use of character development, props and theatricality are both stunning and innovative.

8. What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?
Wow… I think I have been very blessed over the past five years. A few of my most memorable accomplishments are being nominated Student Teaching Choice Professor of the Year Award at the University of Utah in 2009, Favorite Teacher of the Year by the Chi Omega in 2013, University of Utah’s Community Engaged Scholar of the Year 2014, and of course having the opportunity to engage in community dance practice. Directing the Panamá Dance and Cultural Exchange in partnership with Movement Exchange Organization has literally changed my life.

9. Where’s the most exotic place you have been?
The most exotic place I have visited would have to be the Island of Bali. Bali is an island full of art, history, mystery, beauty and the simplicity of life.

10. How many languages do you speak? Which ones?
I speak 2 languages fluently, English and Spanish.

11. What is one thing on your bucket list?
To adopt children. I have always wanted to be a father. I want to have the opportunity to teach, provide, share, and unselfishly love my children and guide them into a fruitful, confident and successful adulthood.

12. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
This is a tough question for me. I consider myself to be a very honest and transparent person. With that being said I guess I would have say that I don’t particularly like secrets.

13. If you could time travel, where and why?
Japan because I love sushi and Bali because I have always wanted to share its beauty with my spouse.

14. What are some of your other hobbies?
Cleaning my house, good sushi and good wine with friends, traveling the world and being in nature.

15. If you had a tagline/motto what would it be?
Be honest, be true, be you!

16. What three words come to mind when you think of India?
Colors, Eyes and Food.

17. Do you think Movement Exchange would be valuable in India? Why?
Absolutely, there is so much dancing in India but it also belongs to a specific social class. I have studied Indian dance and their cast system. There is so much we could learn about Indian dance that would ultimately help us understand the history and culture of India.

18. Why do you dance?
I dance because it sets me free. I dance because it heals my wounded soul. I dance because there is nothing more genuine and original than the moving body. I dance because I like to celebrate the most important and sacred thing given to us by god, the human body.

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