MilliOnAir interactive Magazine June 2017 - Page 70

MilliOnAir

''It's a wonderful feeling to have challenges and freedom at the same time''

Correct Jeff, now I understand you won a full scholarship to dance with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City? What did ballet teach you?

 

My introduction to dance came through acting. I first started studying acting at the Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, New York in an acting group called "The Now Theatre Ensemble" and we were working in the Grotowski Technique of Experimental Theatre, which is very physical theatre.

It was through this acting technique that I was introduced and learned to appreciate Ballet and classical music, Martha Gramm and Modern dance, Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and all other studies of movement.

The reason for study of movement and dance for me was to apply it to acting, rather than study to become a dancer. The years that I did study movement have stayed with me through my life and career as an actor in so many ways.

It gave me a sense of daily discipline that I still apply to my work and life. 

The idea of working each and every day for hours in a classroom, or studio, or on your own, to create an inner strength of mind and body that is necessary for the performer to then be on stage or screen and be at that place and feeling of freedom, where the work does not show, but rather flows with ease.

Hopefully I'm able to reach that place every once in a while.

''It's a wonderful feeling to have challenges and freedom at the same time''

After traveling the world for years, what made you become an actor?

I never really thought about or wanted to be an actor, and I was back in Buffalo after many years of traveling.

After being fired from a job as a shoe salesman, I was walking down the street that afternoon past the Studio Arena Theatre, I had never been in an actual theatre, movie theaters yes, but I HAD never seen a play... The door to the theatre was open, so I walked in and there was a class going on, on the stage, I snuck in and sat in the back of the theatre and watched this strange but very interesting group of people acting out these moments.

At one point after about 45 minutes the teacher Jerry Miller called out to me in the back of the theatre and said who are you and why are you here? embarrassed, I stood up from my hiding place and I said 'I'm sorry I was just watching'

Long story short, I started taking classes that week and then became a member of the theatre group and actually was in a play 4 weeks later, first time on stage.
I was actually in a play before I even saw a play.

 

I was 22 years old and that day was the beginning of what has been a big part of my life for the last 42 years as an actor.

 

The reason I continued and have stayed in the business is because it's always allowed me to have the freedom of adventure and allowed me to explore storytelling and have the daily challenge, and constant change of working environment.

 

It's a wonderful feeling to have challenges and freedom at the same time.