Graduation Year: Dance and Psychology, January 2010
Hometown: Oak Park, IL
Current Location: Philadelphia, PA (Queen Village)
Current Position: Artistic Director of RealLivePeople (Philadelphia-based dance company), Freelance Pilates Instructor
Recent Work: Check out our foray into dance for camera:www.reallivepeople.org
First things first: I’m not a stripper, a musical theater star or a ballerina. I am a modern dancer. This means that I am both an artist and an athlete; a storyteller and a curator. I dance for other choreographers and companies in Philadelphia, but my primary dance role is directing, choreographing and performing for my company, RealLivePeople. As this doesn’t pay the bills (I know you were wondering), I also teach Pilates classes and private clients.
Although my title is Artistic Director, I think of myself as a dancing philosopher, exploring thick, juicy questions through movement and relationships. Connecting with our audiences is always my primary goal, and physicality the primary means. Dance is just one of the tools – though an important one to be sure! – that I use to create performances that resonate with audiences; I also use a lot of text: words spoken on-stage by the performers, recorded and built into the sound-score, or shared by audience members. These audience contributions (often written responses, recorded on index cards or post-it notes in response to a prompt in the program or from a performer) are integrated into our dances through real-time scored improvisations that draw inspiration from what is shared.
While my company has developed something of a “signature style,” I feel like I am constantly learning and evolving. I have collaborated on past projects with composers, theatrical improvisers, fine artists (including other Honors alumni), composers/sound designers, and dramaturgs (creative people themselves, who serve as an “outside eye” during rehearsals). As humans we communicate in such a wide variety of ways – speaking, looking, gesturing, listening, touching, sensing – I want to create art that encompasses all of it, within and outside the confines of dance. My collaborations with these other artists have broadened not only my point of view of a dancer and choreographer, but also my ability to communicate complicated ideas as a creative artist.
For me, there are very clear parallels between my experience in Temple Honors and my work with RealLivePeople. The first is an emphasis on excellence: depth of thought, high quality output. The second is broad appeal and interest: both in Honors and in my dance-making and performing. I have always felt that the projects I’ve worked on – and those created by my friends – were fascinating on their own merits, not isolated to suit the tastes of one interest group or another. This leads me to the third and greatest parallel: accessibility. Creating relatable, relevant dance – dance that welcomes audience members embedded in the Philadelphia modern dance community, casual connoisseurs of the local arts scene, and people who’ve never before seen a modern dance performance– is the foundation of my work as a choreographer. Similarly, if pressed to describe what I remembered and treasured most about my Honors experience, it would be how welcoming Honors staff and faculty have always been. My experience in the open and warm atmospheres of the Honors lounge and Honors classes were such a big part of my time at Temple.