Jason Stotz is our multi-talented, media-maven, musician, mat-class martinet, modern dance matinee idol. He can act, play steel drums, dance like a dream and is not just a pretty face. He has ideas, lots of ideas, he is e-mailing me right now with more ideas. Vegas will be a kind of return trip for Jason as he was once homeless and spent time busking on the streets there. Jason might be among our youngest members but has experience beyond his years and has a bright future. We are glad to have him on our team for many reasons not least of which is that I know I’ll always have someone to drink tequila with.
Who are you?
My name is Jason Stotz. I was born on March 7th 1986 in Rochester, NY to Brian and Valorie Stotz. I grew up playing every sport I could get my hands on; ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, I loved being out an active. My parents are both musicians and I quickly fell in love with music as well. I played percussion all through high school in the concert band, jazz band, marching band, pit orchestra, and also played steel drums in the Pangaia Steel Band with my father. After playing steel drums for a dance performance, I finally found the perfect marriage of artistry and athleticism that I didn’t even know I had been searching for.
What is your primary dance training?
I received my BFA from the University at Buffalo where I studied Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, and Social Dance. I was also a scholarship student at the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. I’ve also spent years studying Yoga, Pilates, and other forms of fitness.
What other jobs have you held besides dance?
I teach dance and Pilates and am also a personal trainer. I’ve played steel drums for several reggae and steel bands, I’ve choreographed, I’ve modeled, and in my younger years I did everything from delivering Dominos’ pizza to folding jeans at the Gap.
What’s the strangest performing job you ever had?
My strangest “performance job” came when I was a student at the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. One day the director called a fellow student and myself into the office saying he had a gig for us. We were to dress in a leotard and black slacks to go to this Long Island “Hat Party”. It was rather ambiguous as to what it was and what we would be doing. As it turned out, we were there to be the man-candy for these wealthy Long Island women as they displayed their elaborate homemade hats for each other and voted which was the most creative, beautiful, outlandish, etc. All we had to do was stand there and look pretty and dole out the hors-d'oeuvres. As the party went on they began serving us cocktails. This quickly inspired us to start a full scale dance party. It was pretty strange and a little degrading at first, but it turned out to be quite a fun little gig. I made $300 to hang out and eventually start a dance party. I’m never mad at a dance party. I even ended up booking some gigs playing steel drums with the reggae band that was at the party!
What’s the most dangerous performance you ever did?
The most dangerous performing I’ve ever done was probably being in the colorguard of the Cadets drum corps. It wasn’t so much the performances that were dangerous, it was the rehearsals. They consisted of 12+ hours a day rehearsing, in the sun, often in the south, on a turf football field; it is not for the faint of heart. It was one of the most grueling experiences of my life. Out of around 36 that we started with, we had around 7 people drop out throughout the summer and had to keep bringing new ones in. Drum Corps is a completely insane musical sport. In 3 months time, you develop life-long friends, you’re in the best shape of your life and, have performed in 25-50 different cities across the country for over 100,000 people.
What was the most terrifying moment in your life?I would say the moments I’ve been most scared have been the two times I developed a bad case of tonsillitis. One was in college, the other as I was dancing with the Missouri Contemporary Ballet. I don’t know what I would have done if my friends hadn’t been there to help me. I have never been so sick. My tonsils got so swollen my throat was starting to close, I had a fever, and my entire body ached so bad I could barely move. Make sure to gargle! And keep your throat chakra clear! Both times this happened, I had been hurt by someone, but felt like I couldn’t say anything. I ended up quite literally choking on the words and feelings I that I was refusing to voice. If I can quote the brilliant and beautiful Sara Bareilles,
“Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way the words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you
Say what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I want to see you be brave.”
If you haven’t heard her single "Brave", or if you have and haven’t seen the music video, I highly recommend you check it out. So inspiring. Beautiful message. Beautiful voice. Beautiful woman. By the way Sara, I’m single. Just saying.
What was the most amazing moment of your life?
The most amazing moments in my life almost all come back to great performances. Performing for 25,000+ at DCI finals, opening for Santana with the Pangaia steel band along with my father. I think the most surreal was seeing Catapult perform on America’s Got Talent.
To be on that stage and hear the roar of the crowd, and see 4 celebrities who I personally respect standing in appreciation of our work, and then to have it air in such a beautiful segment, and have hundreds of friends who haven’t seen me perform in years reach out to say how amazing they thought was. It was quite a surreal experience. I am very grateful for this portion of my journey.
What does your fitness regimen entail?
I take Dance classes as well as Yoga and Pilates whenever I can. I also do a fair amount of it while I’m teaching and personal training. I enjoy any kind of functional, integrated training, combining different movements and styles for balance and control. I have always loved pushing the limits of my body. Strength, stamina, flexibility, balance; no matter how you push your body, it’s a great practice to try to expand your boundaries in any direction.
What’s your diet like?
I’m beginning the transition towards being Vegetarian. It’s fairly difficult as I just have been eating meat my whole life. But I really like animals. And I am beginning to feel some cognitive dissonance over the fact that these animals are being raised as slaves for the slaughter just to satisfy my appetite.
What is your favorite recipe?
I absolutely love Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotta. I usually make it with grilled lemon-garlic salmon and a garden salad with a homemade vinaigrette.
What are your secrets for staying healthy?
Diversity. The more diverse you are, the healthier you will be. Diversity in what you do on a daily basis, what you eat, what your workout is. It is so easy to settle into a grind, but we are healthiest when we are most diverse. Check out my blog at www.jasonstotz.com for recipes and health tips.
Do you have any other unusual skills or interests?
I started playing steel drums in the Pangaia Steel Band with my father when I was 10 years old. We played 15-20 gigs a summer and I was only 12 when we opened for Santana. I also got to play in a small steel drum ensemble with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, where my father is a percussionist. I have a black belt in Isshin Ryu Karate, and competed in cheerleading, gymnastics, and colorguard. I performed with the Rochester Patriots winterguard at Winter Guard International in 2003 where we received 4th place. I also received a silver medal with the Cadets Drum Corps at Drum Corps International in 2007.
I love watching TEDTalks and learning what new discoveries and collaborations are happening around the world. I have a particular interest in theoretical physics and Unification Theories. Some of my favorite YouTube videos on the subject are Athene’s Theory of Everything and Nassim Haramein’s lectures on “Sacred Geometry and Unified Fields”.
What we now want is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the Earth, and the elimination of egosim and pride which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife. Peace can only come as a natural consequence of universal enlightenment.