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DANCING WITH NEW YORK.

JAMES KORONI IS A NEW YORK BASED UP AND COMING DANCER, CHOREOGRAPHER, SINGER AND A DEDICATED VEGAN. WE MET UP WITH JAMES TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS INSPIRING MAN, HIS LOVE FOR VEGAN FOOD AND HIS OPINIONS ON FASHION TODAY.

Photography by Joshua Katcher
Text by Bruno Pieters
 

BP: I LOVE THE IMAGES OF YOU DANCING IN THE STREETS OF NEW YORK. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE DANCE AND PHOTOGRAPHS? 
JK: Thank you! My inspiration for this piece is the city itself. I rarely find myself alone in New York City and it can be overwhelming at times but most often it is a source of inspiration. We also made a video while we were taking these photographs. At a certain point I was dancing in the street, there was a rush of traffic, a man waiting in stillness and while dancing I could hear three teenagers cheering me on across the street. By being present and paying attention to my surroundings I am fuelled creatively and in return can offer something unique because it is reflective of my surroundings. I suppose then what I am trying to express is the creative symbiotic relationship that I have with my environment, which is why I am so sensitive to and concerned with its well being.

BP: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A DANCER? 
JK: I can remember dancing with my family in the living room as a child and not thinking of it as anything but an expression of joy and community. This kind of experience was part of my daily life so I've always been a dancer at heart but until I was 19, I hadn't called myself a dancer. Before then I focused on acting and singing so I hadn't imagined that I would ever call myself a dancer. I do now but just as a formality. I love the path I have taken because all my skills come to great use at every level of my creative professional life.
Once I realized how much I love dance I decided that it was time to devote myself to it. I then set a course of studies at Santa Monica College, the edge and Broadway dance center. Eight years later, I have now studied ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, street jazz and theater dance. Even now as a professional I am still learning and perfecting my skills.
I have danced for artists such as Madonna, Robert Delong, Son of Kick, Iconopop, Anusha Dandekar, Princess Superstar, Notic Nastic, Sasha, Clara Lofaro, Mandy Lee, an Aveda promo video and on good morning America. My choreography has been invited yearly to perform across seas in a Parisian festival at la Bellevilloise. Theatrical credits include love in a tub under the direction of James Manzello, the man who wasn't there and bagabones all in the fringe festival here in New York City and in Edmonton, Canada. I portrayed the role of young rich in the equity showcase of lemon meringue under the direction of TerrI Muuss.

BP: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT DANCING?
JK: I love the sense of freedom it provides. I am in control of my own body and there is no boundary to which I must comply, offering me endless possibilities.
I am fuelled by the power it has to generate energy from within. For example when I am feeling lethargic all I must do is put on some groovy music and freestyle or for a more relaxing approach, I might guide my body through a movement breathing exercise. The unexpected energy boost is always a surprise in contrast to the way I felt moments before. All it took was setting my body into motion and the momentum took care of the rest.
It also acts as a constant source of release. Movement can help release anger or sorrow and as a form of entertainment is can give joy to others.

BP: WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT FASHION?
JK: I love that it's an artistic expression that you can always carry with you. It's also an icebreaker and a visual form of communication. When I wear a brand with a statement of sustainability or compassion for animals I feel connected to my values and am empowered by its social relevance.

BP: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE FASHION INDUSTRY TODAY?
JK: As an outsider to the fashion industry I am overwhelmed by the overabundance of trends and fast fashion expectations. It makes me retreat my interest from what is "new and hot" and stick with classics from designers that are in alignment with my ethics.

BP: DO YOU THINK DESIGNERS ARE BECOMING MORE CONSCIOUS?
JK: I think there is a new wave of designers that are more conscious. The demand seems to be growing but at a slow pace. I think until larger corporations take responsibility and become more sustainable that it will be the consumer's responsibility to vote with their dollar and show the industry what is in our interest as consumers.

BP: WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION IN YOUR OPINION?
JK: Sustainable fashion will require innovation in textiles that are more eco-friendly, an end to the fast fashion industry and consumers will need to learn to repair clothing that is already in their closet and make it last longer. Only when their clothing is absolutely un-wearable should someone throw clothing out but not in the trash, they should recycle their clothes at a local clothing recycle bin.

BP: HOW GREEN ARE YOU?
JK: I would say that I am a conscious consumer. An example being that if I am at the grocery store without a reusable grocery bag I will only purchase what I can carry. In addition, I have adopted a vegan lifestyle, which has a much smaller carbon footprint than the alternative lifestyle.

BP: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN VEGAN?
JK: I have been vegan for 8 years.

BP: WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING VEGAN?
JK: I wouldn't say that being vegan is hard. I would however say that it's hard to see how others perceive the vegan lifestyle. When a new friend discovers that I am vegan I can see that there is a little apprehension. I want them to know that I am in no way interested in making judgments. If I were to ostracize anyone for their lifestyle, what they would take away with them is negative and this would certainly not help anyone or thing. A lot of people seem to think that you must be 100% vegan or else you will be judged but it's not about being puritanical. It's about making as many conscious choices as possible on a daily basis. As others have said before, it takes baby steps and every step of the way positively contributes to a larger picture. Eventually, being almost 100% vegan can be achieved but it rarely happens overnight.

BP: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MOST MISUNDERSTOOD ABOUT VEGANS?
JK: People think that it is a huge sacrifice but it's not. There are so many alternatives available. It just takes some research. I have resources if anyone needs them. Just ask me!

BP: AS A DANCER IT IS PROBABLY EVEN MORE IMPORTANT TO STAY FIT. DOES ONE GET ENOUGH PROTEINS ON A VEGAN DIET?
JK: Staying fit is the most important part of a professional dancers' active and busy lifestyle. Dancers rehearse for hours and when not in rehearsal they are likely taking class to improve upon their skills. Being strong and flexible is an important part of injury prevention. To keep up with this lifestyle a dancer must also stay hydrated and have a very high calorie intake. It may come as a surprise for people but I have never worried about my protein intake for two convenient reasons. I love fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains & legumes and I am constantly eating these whole foods. You definitely receive the right amount of protein from eating a variety of these items. It is a common concern among all people but the reality is that there is protein in most everything. You don't need to eat a "complete protein" in one meal and you most definitely don't need anything from an animal source. These are both tall tales perpetuated by the rich and powerful meat and dairy industry. Your body knows how to extract, store and use nutrients from the food you eat. Our bodies are remarkable machines!
For more information regarding the vegan diet and athletes, visit truelovehealth.com. Founder, Matt Ruscigno is a vegan of 16 years and a leading expert in the field of vegetarian nutrition. Matt has a nutritional science degree from Pennsylvania State University and a public health nutrition degree from loma Linda University, as well as certification as a registered dietitian- the only professional nutrition credential available. In addition to working with vegetarian clients and athletes, Matt is the past-chair of the vegetarian nutrition dietary practice group of the academy of nutrition and dietetics and contributed to the best-selling cookbook appetite for reduction with Isa Moskowitz.

BP: WHAT IS THE EASIEST THING ABOUT BEING VEGAN?
JK: Finding like-minded people. There is a large community of people who are interested in this lifestyle from all walks of life.

BP: HAVE YOU ALREADY INSPIRED PEOPLE TO BECOME VEGAN?
JK: I have but not directly. I live my lifestyle, share my day-to-day activities on social media and it gives others insight into how one, who is vegan lives. Then people reach out to me if they are curious. When I hear from them I make sure to have a lot of resources handy to share with them.

BP: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A VEGAN DIET?
JK: Improved overall health, low environmental impact and compassion for all living beings.

BP: DO YOU WEAR LEATHER OR FUR?
JK: No.

BP: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT IN BROOKLYN AND MANHATTAN?
JK: My favorite places to eat in Brooklyn are Champs family bakery and Dun-well doughnuts. My favorite places to eat in Manhattan are Peacefood cafe and anywhere that I can get dessert from vegan treats, the bakery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that delivers to cafés all over the city.

BP: LEO TOLSTOY ONCE SAID THAT AS LONG AS THERE WILL BE SLAUGHTER HOUSES THERE WILL BE BATTLEFIELDS. HE BELIEVED THAT THE UNCONSCIOUSNESS THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR CONSUMPTION OF ANIMALS IS THE SAME UNCONSCIOUSNESS THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF WAR. A FRIEND OF MINE ONCE SAID THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIGHT FOR GAY OR WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN A FUR COAT. BECAUSE YOU'RE ASKING FOR CHANGE WHILE YOU STILL HAVE A FOOT IN THE CAVE. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON ALL OF THIS? ARE WE BECOMING MORE AWARE , DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE IS PROGRESS?
JK: While I do hope that all of our current issues are one day resolved I do not wholeheartedly agree with the latter quotation. I would say that there is slow and steady progress, which should be celebrated at every level. With every step of progress there will always be ways to improve our lifestyles. To use the same example, I would love to see everyone at a gay or women's rights protest in sustainable, vegan, sweatshop free and fair-trade clothing but it isn't our current reality. I value all their efforts and applaud their work along the way to a brighter future.

BP: DO YOU THINK MORE DESIGNERS WOULD PRODUCE IN A MORE SUSTAINABLE AND LIFE FRIENDLY WAY IF THE CLIENT WOULD DEMAND IT?
JK: Most definitely!

BP: DO YOU BELIEVE ONE PERSON CAN CREATE CHANGE?
JK: Absolutely! Our influence on this planet is tremendous.

BP: ARE YOU THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD?
JK: Yes.

BP: WHAT DRIVES YOU?
JK: I am driven by the capacity to influence others with art and use this superpower to help others.

BP: WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOURSELF?
JK: I like that I am relentless. I am a very hard worker and am committed to my aspirations. I have seen a lot of failures but I only measure myself by the intention and quality of my actions.

BP: WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU LIKE IN OTHERS?
JK: I like silly people. They make me feel comfortable in their presence immediately.

BP: WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY TODAY?
JK: Consider all those involved. Everyone deserves a fair shot at life. I live this way on a daily basis from what clothes I wear to what I eat and even when I refuse to take a plastic bag at the grocery store. By doing this, I am reducing the effects I have on the planet and making a statement to all those in my daily life.

BP: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
JK: "Any social action that can raise powerful negative reactions that periodic attempts are made to ban it in its various forms can be viewed as an activity that is also saturated with potential subversive power. In this context, dance provides a unique lens through which to analyze the dynamics of societal values and attitudes." (Anthony Shay, "Dance, human rights, and social justice" dignity in motion – chapter 6: dance and human rights in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, pgs. 67 – 76) "In such an environment of rampant choreophobia, it is a wonder that people still find the fortitude to dance."

BP: THANK YOU FOR THIS INTERVIEW. 
 

RESTAURANTS:

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SHOPPING:

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VEGAN ADVICE:

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