1. Describe your normal studio or workplace.
To me, there is no truly “normal” studio or workplace. I can make choreography at home, at the gym while walking on the treadmill, in the garden. Movement can happen almost anywhere.
However, I will say, for the last 6 years of my life, my normal workplace is with tbd. dance collective, in the studio, or in the space we are performing. We typically rehearse at The Omaha Academy of Ballet, but you can also find us at Smitty’s Performing Art Center, KANEKO, OutrSpaces, on occasion Hotel Deco, or anywhere else that will let us use their space. My preferred studio is with other dancers, wherever there is enough room to move our bodies, and make things together.
2. Describe your makeshift studio or workplace in a time of social distancing or isolation.
During this time of social distancing, my workplace is my home, in every sense of the word. As you can see in this short film, I make choreography on my coffee table in my living room.
There are so many online dance classes offered right now by dancers, companies, and choreographers all over the world. It is really incredible. I have been able to take classes almost every day to continue training. If I am taking ballet, I will dance in my kitchen using my countertop as the ballet barre. If I need more room, I will push all the furniture to the perimeter of my living room, mop the floor because I have a jute rug that forms piles of disintegrated fibers underneath it, and take up more space. If the weather is nice, I will dance on my back deck and hope for a stable internet connection while trying not to break a toe on uneven boards.
Sometimes I will do improvisation in various parts of my home: my hallway, a doorway, my kitchen floor, etc. That is actually what led to the creation of this short film. I was sitting on my couch, just like at the beginning of the film, and began thinking about climbing on top of the table and trying to balance, or sliding across it because it is so slippery. I began experimenting with where I could stand to keep it balanced the whole time, and where I could stand to make it tip over.
3. How has sharing your work with co-creatives or others shifted?
I mean, a huge part of what I do is performance. Performances are currently not happening. Rehearsals with other dancers are not happening. Before quarantine, I was rehearsing 2-3 times a week, preparing for a tbd. production at the end of March, and planning for collaborations all summer. Now, I am taking classes alone in my house and creating solo choreography on my coffee table, which is not bad at all, just very different. Most of my creative life and practice is with other people - collaborating through movement in the studio, music for a performance, film, props, costumes, etc. Everything is a collaboration. These kinds of collaborations still happen, but in a different way, with physical distance, and about virtual content rather than live performance.
4. What is your favorite non-art oriented activity that inspires you?
I love growing things: food, flowers, herbs, plants of all kinds. I have 43 houseplants (I just counted them) I enjoy being outside - either lounging in a river on a sweaty summer day, or hiking through a forest. I always feel inspired whenever I travel, anywhere, doesn’t necessarily matter the distance. I like deep cleaning, lifting weights, collecting rocks, drying flowers, and driving around town looking at the architecture of various houses, businesses, and public spaces (usually thinking: this would be a great location for a short dance film.)
In relation to choreography, I feel inspired when watching basic human interactions, group activity, conversations, gestures that people make when talking or going about their business, etc. Sometimes it is fun to see how those observations can inform movement I’m making, specifically for performance.
5. How has working in a socially distant environment affected your work?
I have gone very inward. The last few years of my life have been very focused on public performance, and output. It feels nice to be more internal at this moment. I have been able to take a deep dive into the work of some of my favorite artists through films, biographies, memoirs, and choreographic works. I have been taking movement + technique classes almost every day, which is something that is not usually an option here in Omaha. It feels so wonderful to take in the teachings of companies and choreographers that I have been admiring for so long.
Besides some fun, shorter phrases for DANCE CLUB, this choreography on my coffee table has been one of the main pieces of “work” I have made.
6. What is your favorite go-to snack after long hours working on your artistic practice?
CHEESE! all the time. Cheese, bread, fruit, repeat. I also love chips + salsa, trail mix, and these weird ginger shots from Trader Joe’s.
7. What are one/two of your favorite books that resonate with you and/or your practice?
Feelings are Facts by Yvonne Rainer The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
8. Who are one/two of your favorite artists that inspire you?
Anna Halprin - a dancer, choreographer, movement artist, and pioneer within modern dance who has been creating work since the 1940’s that explores social issues + movements within our culture, nature, aging, sickness, life, and death. If you haven’t yet, watch Breath Made Visible, or do a bit of research about her. A revolutionary human, in so many ways.