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5 Questions With | Jody Oberfelder

Jody OberfelderPaula CourtJody Oberfelder

Jody Oberfelder is an East Village dancer/choreographer who started out as the lead singer for the Bagdads, a punk band which played at CBGB’s. She then became a dancer and choreographer who has brought to both roles unusual athleticism, heart, humor, and in the words of Village Voice critic, Deborah Jowitt, “a zest for endearingly human dancing in an upside-down world.”

She has gone from creating works with titles such as “Wanted X Cheerleaders” and “Crash Helmet Brigade” to directing opera (“Dido and Aeneas”)  and now Igor Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale,” which she will present at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Performing Arts at Pace University (where “Inside the Actors Studio” is filmed) from June 9 to 11. Recently The Local spoke to her about her work and how living in the East Village has influenced it.


You have been part of the East Village arts scene for a long time. How has living here informed your work as a dancer and choreographer?


I’ve lived in the East Village from 1980 to the present, and I saw it change from a place where it was still full of old Ukrainian characters and really scary just to go east of Avenue A. When Life Café came into being on Avenue B, I remember kind of tip-toeing my way over there beside the park. I think I was just one of the many kinds of art-makers and filmmakers who was around at that time. Steve Buscemi and his wife Jo Andres were going to all the same events, and he’s pretty famous now! It was more of a cabaret-ish atmosphere, and you’d stay out pretty late, too. There was a great performance duo called Dancenoise, and also the “Full Moon” shows at P.S. 122. This was the more liquid East Village, more sweaty and physical. There were also people doing more esoteric work at the time.
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