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Photo Credit: Erwin Caluya

This weekend we’ll be heading to one of two performances from the Salvatore LaRussa Dance Theater or SLDT, for which OAK’s own Cameron Cooper (along with Abraham Lopez) designed costumes for a fourth year in a row. SLDT have been performing all over NYC since its inception in 2004 after LaRussa graduated from Hofstra University. Known for their electrifying repertoire, and unique choreography SLDT’s “homecoming” performances are not ones to miss. In anticipation for this weekend, we’re giving you a look at some photos from last year’s performances, and an exclusive interview with Sal LaRussa conducted by Cameron Cooper himself.

CAMERON COOPER: Where are you from?
SAL LARUSSA: I am a native New Yorker. I was born in Bushwick, Brooklyn and grew up in the Bushwick/Ridgewood, Queens area.

CC: How did you get interested in dance?
SL: I started studying at a local studio at the age of 12. My formal dance education and training started at Hofstra University under the direction of Lance Westergard at Jeffery Ballet.

CC: Before you start a new production how do you get inspired?
SL: I am inspired by the human spirit. My life experiences. I translate it through choreography. Movement is universal and I translate it on stage.

CC: What was the inspiration for your new production?
SL: The inspiration for the new work was to create order. The new work, CHAOS, is an example of my experience. We created order by organizing straight lines of choreography. These organized lines leave and return to create its own sanity.

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CC: How do you chose the other elements of the production in terms of music, costume, lighting etc.?
SL: I work with the artists I know and trust. Sometimes it’s through a recommendation and sometimes it’s a passionate artist/designer I believe in and love. Yourself and Abraham Lopez, are an example of [the latter]. I’ve known you both for years and respect your work [and] you guys understand my work. You continue to shock me every season with your amazing work. Our work grows together and I thank you for making my vision come alive. Our lighting designer, Charlie Winer, is so talented. He adds such a dynamic work. Our music layers on another level to make our art complete.

CC: As your costume designers you give [Abraham and I] full creative freedom, is that usual for a dance production?
SL: It depends on the production. If you have full trust in your artist, as I do, you allow them the freedom to do whatever they feel and know it’s going to be amazing. I do choreography. That’s my work. All other artists are trusted to do their work to the fullest. Love it!

CC: Anything else you want to add Sal?
SL: I’m already thinking of the next production.

The Ailey Citigroup Theater
The Joan Weill Center for Dance
405 West 55th St.

November 16 8PM
November 17 6PM

For more information, head over to SLDT.org. To RSVP for either performance, e-mail rsvp@sldt.org. Use code OAKdance for 10% off your ticket purchase.