Beth Jucovy shares her passion through Dance Visions NY
No, I can’t explain the dance to you; if I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it,” once replied Isadora Duncan, the acclaimed American and French dancer whose immense talent and portrayal of the performing arts is now the stuff of legends. Duncan’s techniques have also had a profound effect on Great Neck dancer and artistic director Beth Jucovy, who founded Dance Visions NY, a nonprofit devoted to keeping the Isadora Duncan dances and aesthetic alive, nearly 30 years ago.
“I have been dancing all my life. It is my life, my art form,” says Jucovy, who originally studied the Isadora Duncan technique at the age of 5 and was taught by Julia Levine, who danced with Irma Duncan, one of Isadora’s dancers. “I have a very pure exposure to the Duncan work, especially after I studied ballet and high school performing arts. Her work is timeless.”
Known as a dancer, adventurer, and ardent defender of the free spirit, Isadora Duncan is one of the most enduring influences on contemporary culture. She is credited with inventing modern dance, and for Jucovy, she still holds the Duncan principles very true to her heart. When living abroad in Germany, Jucovy became involved with a jazz dance company and began teaching the Duncan work. Upon her return to the United States (she has been a Great Neck resident for 30 years), she joined the Isadora Commemorative Dance Company, which had seen a resurgence of appreciation to the technique. Jucovy then began her own company, a collaborative one where everyone was deeply involved with the creative process and choreography.
“We [the company] performed each other’s works and that was a parallel to my life, in a way, what we do and how we work,” says Jucovy, who tends to tailor Dance Visions NY performances for particular venues or audiences, with the goal of bringing dance/theater works and narrated, educational programs to wider audiences. “I was never doing it to make it a business, more to bring dance into my own community. Dance is often the least seen and appreciated art. There’s so much in it literally, abstractly, emotionally, there’s the potential for people to have emotional experiences.”
With a goal of advocating that dance is more than commercial entertainment, Jucovy choreographs unique, original works that express a shared humanity. As a dance aesthetic, creative dance, jazz and a body conditioning teacher at Great Neck Continuing Education for the last four years, Jucovy says working with adult artists has been rewarding and in line with the Duncan way.
“Before her [Isadora Duncan], it was just ballet. She really changed that and connected with the appreciation of nature, the human experience,” says Jucovy. “She believed everyone should dance, that it’s their birthright to be physical, and much of what I connect to is reminding people viscerally about the beauty of our world.”
Jucovy has also been the director and main teacher for her business, Children Dancing for the past 30 years, teaching all levels from age 3 to adults. For children, Jucovy believes that dance is a social experience, as it teaches them to control their bodies and understand personal space.
“I enjoy all ages and I see the light in all of them,” she says of her students. “They get more than great physical exercise, but a connection to music, and they feel so rewarded afterwards, almost like a spiritual connective.”
While the company brings Duncan’s artistic legacy into the present, Dance Visions NY is all about showcasing beauty and inspiration through the live form of the art that is dance.
“Great art enriches one’s life,” says Jucovy. “It can really change people’s lives.”