MSP 147: Annie Rigney

By December 26, 2022January 23rd, 2023Podcast

PODCAST 147: Annie Rigney

Release Date: 12.26.22


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Dancing Across Continents, Finding Your Body, and Discovering the Ilan Lev Method With Annie Rigney

Who you are as an artist is undoubtedly influenced by the teachers you encounter along the way. Similarly, being exposed to different artistic practices can have a significant impact on your development. Today’s guest, Annie Rigney, started dancing at the tender age of three and hasn’t looked back since. She spent her childhood and teenage years rigorously honing her craft as a ballet dancer and even founded a local dance company with her friend, where she had her first experience as a choreographer. It was only after Annie arrived at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance that she became aware of the liberation that lay in other dance forms and approaches to movement. In our conversation, Annie recounts how she was first introduced to new techniques (like Graham and Gaga), the teachers that took the time to work with her one on one, and how these experiences gave her the tools to begin to move beyond the limitations of ballet. We hear about her time in Israel, her discovery of the Ilan Lev method, and why becoming an Ilan Lev practitioner was one of the best decisions she ever made. Annie then moves on to describe her return to New York, the culture shock she experienced after four years abroad, and how the American approach to dance and movement differs from those of Israelis. We wrap things up by discussing Annie’s recent return to choreography after a ten-year hiatus, why she felt she had needed to wait before returning to it, and what her plans are for the future. Annie’s love for dance is evident throughout this conversation, and the knowledge she has accumulated is nuanced, profound, and thought-provoking. Be sure to tune in to hear all this along with her wonderful insights on a range of fascinating topics, from healing through dance to the art of repetition! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Get to know today’s guest, Annie Rigney, and how she first fell in love with dance.
  • Annie’s love of music and her dedication to ballet throughout her childhood and teens.
  • The dance company Annie and her friend started as teens.
  • How running a dance company introduced Annie to choreography.
  • Annie’s time at SUNY Purchase and how she was introduced to modern dance.
  • The rigor, discipline, pain, and emotional abuse that characterized Annie’s early dance training.
  • How new dance techniques and teachers helped Annie rediscover her body.
  • The show by Batsheva that changed Annie’s plans to focus on choreography after college.
  • The Gaga dance course that Annie took with Bobbi Jene Smith and how it altered her trajectory.
  • Annie’s move to Israel and the time she spent training in Tel Aviv.
  • The support and love Annie has always felt from her parents.
  • An overview of the Ilan Lev method and how it transformed Annie’s mobility and movement.
  • How Annie became an Ilan Lev practitioner and how her understanding has grown over the past 12 years.
  • Why the Ilan Lev method is all about efficiency and effortlessness.
  • How conflict can stimulate art and healing practices.
  • Annie’s experience playing Lady Macbeth for three years in Sleep No More
  • What this taught her about repetition and performance.
  • The pressure Annie felt to create excellent choreography after her ten-year hiatus.
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic gave her the freedom to experiment with choreography.
  • What Annie is working on right now and how she has been influenced by surrealism and theatricality.
  • The community that Annie has been able to build around the Ilan Lev method in New York.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Annie Rigney on Instagram

Conservatory of Dance | Purchase College


Martha Graham Dance Company

Batsheva Dance Company

Bobbi Jene Smith

Ilan Lev

Moshe Feldenkrais



Annie Rigney is a New York based dancer, choreographer, Gaga teacher and Ilan Lev therapist. She is an Alumnus of the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase. Annie danced with the Batsheva Ensemble under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin. She toured internationally with Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company and was a cast member of Punchdrunk’s immersive theater production, Sleep No More, from 2015-2019.  She has freelanced with LeeSaar the Company, Zoe Schofield, and Gallim Dance. Annie is a certified Gaga teacher and teaches regularly at Gibney Dance Center, Mark Morris Dance Center, and is an adjunct professor at University of the Arts and SUNY Purchase. She is the director of the Ilan Lev Method Training program in New York and treats dancers for injuries and functional limitations. Annie was a guest choreographer for the Fall Concert at SUNY Purchase 2021 and her work has been presented by Batsheva Studios in Tel Aviv, at the Joyce Soho, Arts on Site, at Greenspace DanceNow(NYC), the Berkeley Repertory Theater, and the University of the Arts. Her choreographic work, “Galithea” was recently featured as a part of the 92nd Street Y’s Future Dance Festival and was presented at The Joyce by the Martha Graham Dance Company. Annie is currently working on a new commision for the Martha Graham Dance Company for the company’s 2023 Season. Additionally, her evening-length work entitled, “…she was becoming untethered.” will be presented by the 92nd Street Y in March of 2023. Annie is a recipient of the Moving Women Residency from Gallim Dance, a CUNY Grant recipient, and a current choreographic fellow for Robert Battle’s New Directions Choreographic Fellowship program at the Alvin Ailey School.


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

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