November 02, 2016
"Until all are free..." is the motto of dancer, activist and longtime D.Webb supporter Karla Choko. This stunning performer is an animal rights activist, owner of Sol Dance Center in Astoria, Queens and, most recently, a fulltime cast member of Broadway's "On Your Feet", the story of Gloria and Emilio Estevan! A very full plate!!
When Karla and I got together for this interview back in September, and me being a Gloria Estevan fan, of course I had to ask her about that first. How did it happen, what's it like, and did you meet Gloria?!?!
(Karla on stage with partner. Photo by Anabella V. Photography.)
Well, the "how" of it happened through lots of hard work and the right timing. Karla originally auditioned for On Your Feet two years ago, but at the time they had no need for new female dancers. After meeting and becoming friends with the show's dance captain Hector, she was kept in the casting loop and eventually auditioned again, but still... no openings for the ladies. And finally, finally, the right spot opened up and now, after a whirlwind two week rehearsal binge, Karla has a long-term contract, dancing 8 shows a week on Broadway!! It just goes to show, you can have all the talent in the world, but it still takes a lot of perseverance... and little bit of luck.
When I asked her how she felt about all of it, she admitted she was still a little in shock and feeling like the newbie, dancing with a crew who has been together on the show since its beginning. But she is loving every minute of it!
Hmpf, I never did find out if she met Gloria Estevan...
In addition to her grueling performance schedule, she also owns and runs Sol Dance Center, a professional dance school in Astoria, Queens, where they teach classes in everything from Salsa to Belly Dance, and Ballet and Hip Hop. It has also been headquarters and home for her activism through dance. A few years ago, Karla realized she wanted to dance for a cause. She thought, "Doing what you love is great, but I want to promote doing something that makes a difference." There is much in the world that needs a change, so "someone should do something about it. WE should." And so it began.
Her first activist dance piece was done in conjunction with the Wolf Conservation Center in upstate New York to benefit the endangered Mexican Wolf. It was not only a live dance piece, but she got the kids at Sol Dance Center involved, created a video and sold wolf themed merchandise, with all the proceeds going directly to the conservation center.
(Video and stills from "Save the Lobo" by Karla Choko.)
Since then, she and her dance company, The Solettes, have championed through dance numerous causes, from last year's March for Rhinos and Elephants and a chilling piece on animal testing, and with veganism being an important life choice to all of the Solettes, this year's vegan-themed pieces include a somewhat disturbing one on the meat industry's inhumane slaughtering of cows. More recently was a performance at the Catskills Animal Sanctuary to help put a spotlight on the abuse of circus animals.
("V-gan or B-gone". D.Webb is honored to have our Corset Backed Tops as part of their costuming!)
Intense, sometimes disturbing, yet strangely beautiful, these ladies' performances are dedicated to making a strong statement that will, hopefully, lead to awareness, empathy, and action that makes the world a better place.
And now I will leave you with two things: This really cool D.Webb Designs video starring Karla...
and this quote by Matthew Goode...
"Actions speak louder than words. And sometimes inaction speaks louder than both of them."
I think Karla would agree, and much thanks to her for allowing me to share her stories!
So, until next time, D.Webbers. Best,
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