Breaking Boundaries, Partners in Crime: an Interview with Julia K. Gleich and Jason Andrew
By Keshia Clukey, Contributing Writer
JILL Magazine, Press-Republican, Jun 26, 2006
“I exist in a man’s world,” said Julia Gleich, choreographer and director. “Women dominate at lower levels.” Ballet is a world where men more frequently run the show. However, Gleich does not fit into this role.
“She is a thriving, working woman,” said Norte Maar Director Jason Andrew.
Currently, Gleich maintains the role of ballet lecturer at LABAN, London, UK. Not only is she the Director of Choreography at London Studio Centre, London, UK, but she is also the President of Norte Maar. Gleich also runs her own company, Gleich Dances Contemporary Ballet. She is at the very top in her field.
Gleich has a Mathematics and Arts Administration degree along with a Masters Degree in Ballet from the University of Utah. She also studied at The School of American Ballet.
It was at the University of Utah however, where the true story begins with the start of a beautiful friendship. It was there that Gleich and Andrew first met, Julia as his ballet teacher.
Norte Maar Director Jason Andrew grew up in Utah. He had studied ballet when he was younger, but his father did not approve of it. He had only seen real ballet on TV, and his retired dance teacher had no enthusiasm. He ended up falling into his father’s words, “you can’t live and dance your way through life.”
He stopped dancing, but did excel as a track athlete. He qualified for the Olympics, but an unjury kept him from proceeding. Andrew decided to go to the University of Utah, which was the first university to offer a Master of Fine Arts in ballet.
“It turns out you can live and dance your way through life,” Andrew said smiling.
He and Gleich met at the university. She had not been thrilled with concentuional ballet and had also decided to take a step back and go to college.
What makes a track athlete and ballet dancer come together to form a dynamic duo? Drives and ideas.
From that point Jason moved to New York City and supported Julia with her company. They both continued onward, Gleich with her directing and choreographing, and Andrew as Gallery Director and Archivist.
Through Norte Maar, the two and others like them came together to create a unique learning environment giving individuality to and empowering artists.
Andrew moved up to Rouses Point from New York City, drawn to it by the beauty of the area. It was here that he realized how difficult it is for dancers and artists to move to the next level.
Norte Maar is the answer. They are able to use city connections as well as outside funding to help local artists excel. The Summer Conservatory along with Fete De Danse, and the Wal-Mart Ballet gave both Andrew and Gleich a chance to use their shared ideals.
Gleich was turned off by the devaluing individual identity” that classic ballet usually teaches. The affect of “cloning” one dancer as Andrew put it, is broken away from with these programs.
Gleich is one of the master teachers for the conservatory. “I don’t do syllabus teaching,” said Julia. That is, learning and being tested on over and over again. Julia hopes to bring “twenty-first century values to the dance world.”
Instead of being consumed by the petty things such as having dancers focus on having the “ideal foot”, and physically fitting the mold for ballet otherwise being scorned for not, Julia as well as Jason agree on one thing. Ballet can sometimes “miss the idea that it’s okay to have fun and not be so serious of everything,” said Gleich. “Ballet can be deep but not limited.”
The summer workshop allows access to dancers hat it might not normally be given to. Chances to mix it up with all different kinds of dance styles combined under Gleich’s choreography create a unique experience both liberating and educational.
The fact that there are dancers coming from other countries, including Gleich and her London Dance Company, makes it not only interesting to share differing techniques, but also challenging.
Not letting boundaries keep her down, Julia continues to teach, and thrive as a very driven oman in an industry not usually run by such.
Gleich and Andrew remain friends after 13 years working together. This is Norte Maar’s third year presenting its summer events and it continues to be growing under the vision of its groundbreaking duo.