Spotlight Session: Carlos Franquiz
What are the Spotlight Sessions?
I was the child who asked “why” 150 times in a row, to the dismay and occasional annoyance of the adults around me. That curiosity and need for discovery grew with me and became a guide on my artistic path. Determination, inquisitiveness, and the drive to connect with others led me to write, dance, choreograph, produce, and educate.
I started my company, Six Degrees Dance, with the mission of creating community. Embodying the theory that all people are connected through a social network of 6 or fewer degrees, we collaborate in an environment where the exchange of ideas is the building block for innovation and growth. We approach dance making with the belief that the contribution of the individual benefits the group, and results in a body of work reflective of the sum of its parts.
To that end, we have developed several initiatives that connect artists with audiences and with each other, maintaining the idea of six degrees of separation as the foundation for those connections. Our annual showcase brings together national and international choreographers, most of whom have never met. Our Choreographic Commission series allows the dancers of Six Degrees to work with a variety of choreographers in different styles. In The Spotlight Sessions, I will present a different artist each cycle, and through interviews, short feature articles, previews, and capsule reviews, offer a behind the scenes look into their work and their process. I hope you enjoy getting to know these unique, talented individuals as much as I have, and continue to follow them on their creative paths.
Juan Carlos Franquiz, II was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Fort Hamilton High School’s Joffrey Ballet Academy, under the direction of Sabrina Jaafar, he also received the Joffrey Ballet Academy Dance Award along with the Joseph Graffagnino Scholarship. He is the recipient of the 2019 Samuel H. Scripps - BAM scholarship, and the 2019 - 2020 C. Michael Tidwell NEXT Step Scholarship. He is an alumni of MOVE |NYC|’s Young Professionals Program under the Direction of Nigel Campbell and Chanel DaSilva. While in the Young Professionals Program he was selected to choreograph: "Unity Within Humanity" (2019) and he was a part of the Inaugural Peer Mentor Cohort (2020 - 2021). Carlos has choreographed and performed at the Brooklyn Dance Festival, BAM Kids Film Festival (2019) (2020), York College Youth Dance Showcase (2019). During his continued training he was selected as an Emerging Choreographer (2019) at Earl Mosley’s Institute of The Arts. Carlos was honored to have been selected to co-choreograph for Hearts of Men (2020) Earl Mosley's Dancing Beyond; A benefit for Dance Against Cancer. He was also selected to choreograph on one of MOVE |NYC|’s newer programs called the Pre-Young Professionals Program the summer of (2022). While pursuing his BFA at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance Carlos is currently a Dance Artist for the Dash Ensemble (2021) (2022) in Texas, and performed a unique hybrid of dance and visual magic. Carlos seeks to continue to collaborate and create to inspire in his future as an artist.
1. How did your artistic journey begin?
I started at a young age in a local competition dance studio in New York doing recreational hip hop. From there I met Mr. Kid, who became my mentor. He pushed me to go further with dance because he saw a spark in me as an artist. I then started to compete, and got involved in ballet around nine or 10 years old at a competition studio. One of my teachers told me it’d be important to dive into a professional program, so I looked into the Joffrey Ballet School and began training there. My primary training took place at Joffrey Ballet, Fort Hamilton High School, and MOVE |NYC|. My main upbringing was contemporary and concert dance. I got a chance to work with some amazing artists just in my first three years of high school, including Norbert De La Cruz and others. My love for dance and moving kept growing because of them. During my senior year of high school I received the opportunity to showcase my choreography, a duet, for the first time in New York City. From there I grew a really deep love for creating and I later attended SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance for four years. In college I received the opportunity to work with many amazing artists, including Bill T. Jones my junior year. The opportunity to perform some of the works I participated in at a conservatory level highlighted the beauty of dance and creativity in a new way for me. I was able to learn from those spaces quite a lot. As a young artist, my mentors Chanel DaSilva and Nigel Campbell and Gregory Dolbashian are three people who greatly supported me to get to where I am today.
2. What drives you as an individual artist? What do you hope to express/convey to the world through your work?
Something that’s driven me is an experience which I’m heavily impacted by. During my freshman year of college I dealt with the loss of a friend who took their own life. His name was Lochlan Brooks. He was an amazing ballet dancer training at the JKO program at American Ballet Theater and I had met him in my time in high school. It was a really heavy time and took me out for a loop for a while. Me and a few friends of mine were distraught about it for a long time, trying to find our bearings within understanding of what happened. I think it really has driven me to try to build more community within the people I'm surrounded with and continue to share love and lift people up in the spaces that I'm with. I think something that's so important in choreographic processes is having someone in the front of the room who also cares about the people that are with them in the space. I want to continue to develop the idea of support for anybody who's going through anything in their life and allowing us to be the outlet in any way, shape, or form.
3. When do you feel most powerful?
I’d say I feel most powerful when I’m in a space with many collaborators who seek to bring a vision to life. Something that has been super important is working with people who I know are ready to get into a vision. I think one of the most limitless moments is when I have a team all together and we just work. It feels amazing to have a group of like minded individuals developing and creating work for a specific purpose, and share a love for creating.
4. What has been your biggest challenge and your proudest moment during your artistic growth?
I like to say my biggest challenge is continuing to develop ideas. Sometimes I have all these big ideas and big things but funding and money are challenging obstacles you have to figure out . I'm trying to search in the places where I can continue to find outlets and develop ideas. I would say my proudest moment is finally getting opportunities to work and create in spaces so early on in my career, which I think is really amazing. There are some future developments to create next summer which I think is going to offer a big shift in my dance career.
5. Can you describe your creative process?
My creative process is a pretty basic collaborative process. I usually come in with an idea and it usually kind of gets scrapped within the first rehearsal. A lot of the time I use tasks to work with the dancers.I have a lot of games and ideas that we play in the space that help facilitate different ways of movement and playing with choreography. I also heavily facilitate structure. I really enjoy going back and forth with the dancers, allowing them to be a collaborator and to cater to what is in the process. Everyone gets a chance to put their foot into the creation in however way they seek and I think that's the most special part. I also enjoy collaborating with a friend of mine who composes and creates most of the music for my projects and processes. It is amazing to have professionally created music specific toward my creation. Utilizing the ideas and the sounds of music adds to my creative development.
6.What do you do when you are not creating? What things outside of the dance industry inspire you and fuel your creativity?
I love DJing, playing basketball, and sports too. When I was younger, I was athletic and my dad was gearing me to be a basketball or soccer player most of my life. Of course the gears shift once I started to dance, but thankfully my parents were extremely supportive. I’m also a very religious person. I have a very deep faith and I try to grow deeper into my faith as well. I think it's so important and helps track my career, my creativity, and my relationship with God.
7. What is next for you?
I'm currently in the stage of applying for more choreographic opportunities and also auditioning as a dancer. I want to continue to perform so I'm seeking more performance opportunities and getting into more auditions as time goes. I want to do contemporary work and perform for a project based company but also repertory companies. I’m developing and learning through new creative processes, and I'm trying to balance being a creator and a dancer because I like to do both.
8. Is there a piece of advice you'd give to younger or emerging artists?
Keep going and keep pushing for your dreams and goals and know that even when there are constraints and limits put from people older than us, remember that the sky is the limit. Don't be afraid of the things that are ahead of you. When you see others around you accomplishing things, just keep going, and know that your time will come. Just continue to put those things ahead of you, continue to pray, and continue manifesting things into the universe. Don't be afraid to go out and achieve new things.