By Samantha Yu
James Koroni. The name sounds like someone famous. Someone you ought to know. And you should. With dancing for Madonna on his artistic résumé and looks to kill – though he wouldn’t be caught hurting a fly – James is making moves throughout Manhattan. With his spectacular choreography and his highly praised online community, Enforced Arch, James is dedicated to supporting fellow artists using their talents to comment on important environmental and social issues. We were able to chat with James, learn about what makes him so passionate, and even pick up a few tips on how we can help make the world a better place.
Tell us a little bit about your background as a dancer.
“I’ve always been a dancer at hear but until I was 19 I hadn’t really called myself a dancer. At that age, I decided that it was time to devote myself to it. I set a course of studies at Santa Monica College, The Edge and Broadway Dance Center. Eight years later, I have danced for artists such as Madonna, Robert Delong, Son Of Kick, Anusha Dandekar, Princess Superstar, Notic Nastic, in an AVEDA promo video and on Good Morning America. My choreography has been invited to perform across seas in a Parisian festival at La Bellevilloise.”
Describe your project, Enforced Arch.
“Enforced Arch essentially lives as a platform for compassionate performing artists to express themselves and be inspired by others who are doing the same. Our community members speak up for a large range of topics, including environmental, social and political issues. In the past three years the demand has grown for our socially relevant work. As a result co-creative director, Tracey Katof and I have created the Enforced Arch Dance, a per event based dance company with over ten completed pieces to date and have performed in various locations around the world.”
What moved you to take such a strong stance on these environmental, social, and political issues?
“All my life I have had a strong desire to sing, dance and entertain everyone. As an adult I went through two devastating losses, each breathing new life into my love of dance and performance art. The death of my brother and later the loss of my father were both caused by cancer. After my father died I sought the truth behind the causes for cancer and I found an abundance of resources, including The China Study, linking many causes of cancer to our diets. This sent me on a course of research that changed my life forever. The first step I took was adopting a vegan lifestyle, not only for my brother & father, but also for my health, the environment, and all of the animals suffering for our dinners. This discovery has filled my life with great intention.”
This week is Earth Week. What are your favorite ways to give back and take care of our planet and everything on it?
“My favorite way to give back to the planet is through my lifestyle. It’s simple, I eat a plant based / nutrient rich foods that have a very low carbon footprint. It’s fun to eat so I have no trouble making this kind of adjustment to my everyday life. We use so many food and water resources to sustain livestock and livestock is a leading cause of greenhouse gas. It requires more resources to create meat and dairy products than to simply eat the plant-based foods or drink the water ourselves. Research has shown that a vegan diet is completely healthy and sustainable.”
Who are some of the dancers and artists out there that you see are giving back to the earth and are inspired by?
“Joshua Katcher is the most influential person in my life and also a huge advocate for the environment. He started The Discerning Brute in 2008 as a resource for intelligent men who want to make ethical, informed decisions concerning their lifestyles. Brave GentleMan, the integrated, ecommerce brother-site of The Discerning Brute was launched in 2011 and features “principled attire” and “smart supplies” handpicked for informed indulgence. His line is assured to be 100% vegan and he also strives to showcase items that are sustainably produced in fair-labor conditions, and whose brands are not simply creating handsome products, but also address ecological, social justice, and animal rights issues. I also adore Tonya Kay. She owns two green businesses, Happy Mandible, Inc and Solid Hollywood, LLC, and believes that creating the world you wish to live in starts with the individual, but does not stop there. She is a philanthropist, generously donating to the Performing Animal Welfare Society, NORML, The Serengeti Foundation, The Tree People, The Witch’s Voice, Center for Biological Diversity and reforestation projects via CarbonFund.org. She has traveled 18 countries to volunteer herself to the preservation and protection of endangered species including the Asian elephant at Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park and the sea turtle at Costa Rica’s PETROMA.”
What are some ways that you would recommend dancers to give back to the environment? Do you have any quick tips or tricks that can be implemented smoothly into one’s daily life?
“Don’t buy plastic bottled water, use refillable water bottles and bring a tote bag with you at all times for grocery shopping and of course, eat more plant-based foods. And shop responsibly! There are many designers who are creating stylish clothing that consider everyone who has contributed to its production, from the farm to the manufacturer to the consumer. A great example of this being Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture.”
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
“I only purchase clothing second hand or from ethical designers. As for styling, I like to incorporate a few different looks, which include: Rebel iconography because being an ethical consumer is rebellious. Most people buy what is cheap and convenient or what has a name brand on it because it can be worn as a status symbol. These are both useless to the environment and myself. I value brands with an underlying message of compassion and sustainability. I also like to incorporate working class accessories such as suspenders or t-shirts and jeans rolled up a few times on the sleeves or at the ankle. My father was an immigrant and a working class man who was dedicated to providing his family opportunities for their future. I admire the working class and wear their symbology with pride and humility. Historically, I also admire the Dandy. The Dandy was self-made, often strove to imitate an aristocratic lifestyle despite coming from a middle-class background. Their intention was to infiltrate upscale social events, mingle with aristocrats and plant their progressive seeds. This is why I like to dress to impress. For my wardrobe this translates into wearing a bow tie with a button down shirt or on occasion a bowler cap.”
What are some of your favorite items in your closet that you feel that you can wear both on the street and in the studio?
“I love my April 77 waxed cotton biker jacket, Brave Gentleman Saddle Shoes, Bruno Pieters organic cotton Flecked Jersey Trousers and my Cynthia King Vegan Ballet Slippers.”