Dance as a Form of Self-Expression: Daniel Costa Dance

Interview with choreographer Daniel Costa, presented by CHOP SHOP Dance Festival

Written by Yoon Lee during TeenTix’s Arts Journalism Intensive with CHOP SHOP


Daniel Costa entered the dance scene as a hip hop dancer, but even before going to college he knew he wanted to be a choreographer. Moreso, he wanted people to connect his name to the art he made.

Costa wanted his company to bear his own name because he wanted the work he created to be connected to who he is as an artist.

“The reason I wanted to start Daniel Costa Dance was to make my own work, to be on my schedule, and to focus on what I found important in dance and important in my training,” he said.

Dance as a form of self-expression, a means to share one’s art and emotion with others, is not a novel concept, but it is one that becomes further lost as the dance scene struggles and stumbles. One can only add so much to their particular version of The Nutcracker. One can only deviate from the script by so much.

But with expression comes connection, a chance to show off one’s self to the community around them. And dance is a way to do that, a chance to form powerful connections with audiences and other artists through the expression of their own bodies.

“And how to connect to community and other dancers I feel this powerful connection [with]... and to also know that my work will never be just mine, it’s always in collaboration with other folks.” Costa said.

It is this connection, this collaboration, that forms the basis of Daniel Costa Dance’s contemporary style. Each piece is unique, either through improvisation and/or unique personalization based on physicality or articulation. Costa’s role in this style of dance is not to be a hard-set director, but to be a creator of “dance vocabulary.” This style of working together allows the dancers to manipulate their own movements, altering Costa’s choreography, to their physicality, to their self. This is where dance comes in as self-expression. The dances come about through the expression of the dancer, and of the choreographer, but also through the connection and community they share.

Everything can be embodied in dance: emotions, spirituality, personas, authentic self, physicality, sexuality, gender expression.

“Dance is embodying a language that is beyond words, more primal, for lack of a better word. It is more connected to before we had language; we always had bodies, we always had movement.”

You can learn more about Daniel Costa Dance, and its titular artistic director, at the Daniel Costa Dance website.

You can see Daniel Costa work at CHOP SHOP Dance Festival’s online offering. The dance films are available on their website through March 31, 2021.

Lead photo credit: Daniel Costa, photo by Michael Esperanza.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

This review was written as part of an Arts Journalism Intensive with CHOP SHOP Dance Festival which was held January 10-31, 2021. The workshop was taught by Press Corps teaching artist Gabrielle Kazuko Nomura Gainor.

This workshop was generously sponsored by Case van Rij and the Glenn Kawasaki Foundation.

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