FOLLOW LEAD LOVE



Can a QUEER PERSON of COLOR and an AGING FEMALE broadway vet once and for all break the barriers of the ballroom world’s MALE as LEAD and FEMALE to FOLLOW? Can they usher it to the next level of TRUE GENDER EQUALITY?

Follow...Lead...LOVE is a Film that will TRANSCEND BEYOND the WORLD of DANCE, a Documentary that will TACKLE THE NUANCES OF SOCIALLY AND CULTURALLY RELEVANT ISSUES OF OUR TIME.

Can a queer person of color and an aging asian female broadway veteran defy the odds of once and for all break the barriers of the ballroom world’s traditional gender roles of male being the leader and female as the follower? This documentary is about the journey and dance partnership of Abdiel Jacobsen a former principal dancer of Martha Graham and Kristine Bendul a 47 year old ballroom dance newbie bonded by their aspirations of ushering an evolution and a new era of inclusiveness, diversity, acceptance, female empowerment and gender equality/fluidity in the world of ballroom competition. Witness their triumphs and tribulations both on and off the dance floor to prove that their vision has its rightful place to further enhance the acceptance and recognition it deserves while realizing its parallelism and significance to our current cultural & social climate.


BEHIND THE SCENES



THE CAST & TEAM


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Producer:  Brian Rubiano was born in the Philippines and moved to Hawaii when he was a kid. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy, he joined the United States Air Force as part of the Health Services Administration Command. Part of his Air Force Career was the opportunity to tour worldwide as a vocalist under the auspices of the Air Force’s Premiere Entertainment Group “Tops in Blue.” He was one of the Ambassadors on Stage traveling all over the United States, Europe, Middle East and parts of Asia-Pacific for almost 1 year. After his world tour, he attended Graduate Degree Program at Central Michigan University College of Extended Learning for Master of Science in Health Services Administration. He stayed in the Washington DC area after honorably separating from US Air Force and worked Full Time as an Occupational Therapist while doing gigs as a performer/actor for various theaters, entertainment companies, films and televisions. ​ On 2007, Brian moved to New York City to further pursue his acting career which eventually earned him the eligibility to become a member of Actor’s Equity Association (AEA) and Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). On February of 2015, he was offered the position to become the Director of Rehabilitation in Skilled Nursing Facility in Brooklyn, NY and did it up until January of 2018. On Feb of 2018, his Rehab company created a position for him as a Traveling Supervisor and Clinical Specialist. Throughout his healthcare career, he remains passionate in incorporating creative strategy, humanizing approach to management, collaboration and continues to be an advocate on the optimal therapeutic effect of fusing arts and healthcare. This has become one of his life’s mission to date. ​ With Brian’s military career combined with his knowledge on performing arts and healthcare plus his world travel and management experience, it is obvious that the next step for him is to establish a company that provides a platform for unconventional, non-traditional and creative projects across the board. He wants to be of service to the greater good of humanity through collaboration with various organizations, groups and individuals in multiple fields and industries. One of his philosophy is to always “Aim to become a better version of one’s self for it deserve nothing less.”

Director/Editor:  Brian Thomas, an Emmy Nominated Choreographer for the Michael Jackson 's 30th Anniversary Special, Glam Winner for Best Music Video, and Commercial Photographer has worked in all avenues of the biz over the past 25 years. Originally from Michigan, Brian moved to NYC in 1993 to pursue a commercial dance career. It didn't take him long to land his dream job the 1995 MTV music awards dancing beside MICHAEL JACKSON . After many years of touring with various artists as a dancer BT started teaching at the BROADWAY DANCE CENTER which launched his choreography career progressing to directing and photography. Brian's education in film/photography started at School of Visual Arts in NYC. He still studies there training under directors such as Bob Giraldi & Todd Stephens. His love of dance and film was obvious, which led him to directing music video's, short films, documentaries and commercials. DIRECTING CREDITS INCLUDE: "Amy's Victory Dance" - Documentary, "Higher Love" - Carishma, "Dark Matter" - Desmond Richardson, Associate Director for Cirque du Soleil, Obotacario Commercial-Brazil, and currently working on new documentary "Follow, Lead, Love." CHOREOGRAPHY CREDITS INCLUDE: Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Pink, Usher, Jason Durelo, Alicia Keys, Mya, Brian McKnight, Whitney Houston, Deborah Cox, India Arie, Liza Minnelli, Gloria Gaynor, Marc Anthony, Sesame Street, the Electric Company, New York City Knicks Dancers, Brooklynettes, Optimum triple play, Are We There Yet, and many other TV/Live stage Events. He started his own film/photo production company called "SpinKick Pictures" in 2017 in honor of his grandma's passing. He quotes "Capturing a moment of truth is so worth the journey".

Subject:  Kristine Bendul is a performer, choreographer and master instructor based in New York City. As a performer Kristine has appeared in seven Broadway shows; Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella where she was the assistant choreographer and partnering consultant, two of Twyla Tharp’s shows Come Fly Away and Movin’ Out (She was nominated for a Helen Hayes award as Outstanding Supporting Performer for her role in the 1st National Tour of Movin’ Out), Man Of La Mancha, Swing, On TheTown and The King And I. Her five Broadway productions in the prestigious City Center Encores series are Do I Hear A Waltz, On The Town, No Strings, Golden Boy and One Touch Of Venus. She has danced the Cyd Charisse role in two separate productions of Singin’ In the Rain, performed live at Lincoln Center in their televised production of Camelot and you may even recognize her from season 1 of NBC’s Smash and Baz Luhrman’s The Get Down. Other favorite TV credits of hers include being a guest performer on the David Letterman show and appearing on the both the Tony’s and the Academy Awards. She has also performed with American Dance Machine in Susan Stroman’s “Simply Irresistible” from Contact and has been asked to continue as one of her dancers whenever the piece is requested. Kristine is highly sought out for her partnering skills. Her technical background enabled her to dance a broad spectrum of styles and she became superbly adept in the world of partnering. She was the adage lead with AntiGravity and on Cunard cruiseline for Jean Ann Ryan Productions. Kristine was trained in different styles of swing and latin as an original Broadway cast member of Swing. There she met Arte Phillips who introduced her to the world of hustle. She holds three 1st place titles in the ProCabaret division with Disco America, the International Hustle and Salsa Congress, Liberty Swing and another 1st place in Jeff Selby’s Hustle Your Game. As a choreographer, Kristine has done immersive theater, musical showcases, a music video and works for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS’ highly profiled annual events Gypsy of the Year, Easter Bonnet and Broadway Bares Fire Island. In 2018 she was asked to create a world premiere piece for Bebe Newirth’s Dancers’ Resource annual benefit Dancers For Good. Kristine has also choreographed for Camp Broadway, Broadway Barkada’s annual dance concert Lumipad and Jennifer Jancuska’s BC Beat. Her film credit was choreographing the ballet short Fourth Position which received honorable mention in several film festivals. As an instructor, Kristine’s teaching resume is equally as diverse.  It is such a gift for Kristine to be able to gift others with the knowledge, skills and passion she has acquired over her the course of her career. She hopes to continue to inspire those around her and that includes herself. The quest for self improvement is never-ending.

Subject:  Abdiel Jacobsen, born in Côte d’Ivoire, is former Principal Dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company where he was a member from 2011 to 2018. He has performed many lead roles in Graham's ionic repertoire as well as new original works by various prolific contemporary choreographers including Nacho Duato, Robert Wilson, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Sonya Tayeh, Luca Veggetti, Andonis Foniadakis, Michelle Dorrance, Larry Keigwin, Doug Varone, Richard Move, Lucinda Childs, and more. Abdiel has been a guest artist with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Buglisi Dance Theater, Cecilia Marta Dance Company and Movement Migration. He was also a featured guest artist for Diana Vishneva's "Dialogues" partnering prima ballerina, Diana Vishneva. Beyond dance theatre Abdiel has been featured in original musical theatre and opera productions including "Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise" directed by Chen Shi-Zheng with choreography by Akram Khan for The Shed NYC, "Hatuey: Memory of Fire" directed by Mary Birnbaum with choreography by Maija Garcia, and "The Tempest Songbook" with the Gotham Chamber Opera directed and choreographed by Luca Veggetti. Abdiel received a B.F.A. in Dance from the University of Arts in Philadelphia, PA where he gained the foundation for his dance training. He is also a Certified Professional Smooth Ballroom and Rhythm dance instructor by Arthur Murray Dance International where he began his ballroom dance training acquiring over 10 years of teaching experience. His Professional Competitive Ballroom dance awards includes Same-Sex Smooth Pro Ballroom National 1st place Champion and Dancesport Pro National Open American Smooth Ballroom 3rd place Champion and also won 1st place for the World Latin Dance Cup Salsa on 1 division. Beyond performance and competition, Abdiel thoroughly enjoys teaching and is honored to have been the rehearsal assistant and guest artist at The Juilliard School this year as part of the first ever setting of Martha Graham's "Rite of Spring" in its entirety on a college/university. Jacobsen is currently a Fulbright Specialist with the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Global Learning, with a 3-year tenure. His passion and desire for cultural exchange has allowed him to teach and choreograph not just all over the U.S.A. but also internationally including Haiti, China, Canada, South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire. Abdiel is an avid Hustle dancer and is dedicated and committed to the cultural preservation of the roots of the Latin Hustle partner dance style while expanding its expression creatively and pushing its boundaries. He is delighted to be teaching Hustle at Gibney Dance Center in NYC every Wednesday at 8pm as an ongoing class. His greatest passion is uniting all people through social dancing as a sharing and healing of our humanity.

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