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May 2024

MSP 174: Sydney Skybetter

By Podcast

PODCAST 174: Sydney Skybetter

Release Date: 5.20.24


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The Deeper Meaning of Dance, Dance and Emerging Technology, and Navigating an Economy that Exploits Dancers with Sydney Skybetter

Episode 174: Show Notes

Creating a successful career as a dancer in a world where there are few opportunities to thrive is particularly challenging. However, today’s guest has created a fascinating career for himself in the world of academia, research, and even dancing robots! Sydney Skybetter joins us today to discuss his life as a dancer, dance educator, and entrepreneur. In this conversation, you’ll hear all about how Sydney was introduced to dance, the beauty in the chosen family he created at art school, and his incredible Conference for Research and Choreographic Interfaces (CRCI). After Sydney’s studies, he was forced to hustle his way through a variety of odd jobs to survive financially and he tells us all about the important lessons he has learned from every job he’s ever had. We also delve into why dance programs should consider the dangers of sending dancers out into a world and economy that isn’t built for them, the connection between dance and emerging technology, potential problems for dancers and AI, and much more. Tune in now!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An overview of Sydney’s life and how he got into dance.
  • The connection between dance history and emerging technology.
  • A commentary about the body-type expectations for dancers.
  • Insight into Sydney’s dance training and the chosen family he created.
  • All about the Conference for Research and Choreographic Interfaces (CRCI) he started.
  • Comparisons between writing and performance.
  • Some of his “weird jobs” and why he did them.
  • The danger of pumping out dancers into an economy that will not make good use of them.
  • How Sydney got into academia and what his experience at Brown University has been like.
  • What he is most excited about right now and the research he is currently doing.
  • How artists and dancers are being exploited, especially when it comes to technology.
  • What Sydney is excited about for his career in the near future.

“I came to realize that the academy was one of the few places where artists held longitudinal power.” — Sydney Skybetter

ABOUT Sydney

Sydney Skybetter is a choreographer. Hailed by the Financial Times as “One of the world’s foremost thinkers on the intersection of dance and emerging technologies,” Sydney’s choreography has been performed at such venues as The Kennedy Center and Jacob’s Pillow. He has lectured at SXSW, Yale, Mozilla and the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, and consulted for The National Ballet of Canada, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Hasbro, and The University of Southern California, among others. His work has been supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and a Creative Capital “Wild Futures” Award. He is a Senior Affiliate of metaLAB at Harvard University, a frequent contributor to WIRED and Dance Magazine, the Founder of the Conference for Research on Choreographic Interfaces and Host of the podcast, “Dances with Robots.” Sydney serves as the Deputy Dean of the College for Curriculum and Co-Curriculum, is an Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, and was the first choreographer at Brown University to receive tenure.


Connect with Sydney Skybetter

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:


Podcast produced by: The Moving Architects
Interviewer: Erin Carlisle Norton