One of the few reasons why I am where I am is because of my first dance teacher. At sixteen years old, I moved overseas to attend the International School of Bangkok, Thailand (ISB) where I was able to enroll in dance courses until I graduated high-school. I had taken a few classes here and there and knew movement was something I loved, but being able to enroll in a full time program was a true blessing. And it was a such an important part of my life because of my teacher, Kelly Wadlegger. She was the first person to encourage my dancing, to allow me to see how I danced from my soul, and to help develop both internal as well as external expression. Teachers are a gift, and she has been a true light in my life. So, of course I had to see what is currently moving her…
Kelly Wadlegger: Performing Artist, Teacher, and Choreographer
Life moves me and through me. I am affected by everything. Sometimes it is a curse and other times a blessing.
I am a dancer and I make dances about many things. I enjoy investigating cultures through physical embodiment. I made a solo based on gestures from Thailand and Hawaii where I have lived and that became a group memorial dance for the 2004 tsunami. The dance is loaded with meaning and metaphors and every time I teach it or perform Ocean Voyage it creates a very emotional and visceral response. Close teacher friends lost their twins in the tragedy and this dance has been internally my offering to them and others who suffered. I cannot forget.
I believe in dance as a healing art. Leading dancers through authentic experiences is transformational and it is a privilege to witness this.
Music moves me to dance as well. Last year I listened to the lyrics of one billion rising and was inspired to create a dance that evoked strength, and the spirit to survive and change. I had heard of so many stories of abuse and femicide and I made a trilogy of dances in response. Break the Chain was one of them.
I love creating with the beautiful souls I have gotten to work with, friends whose range of movement styles and experiences make me want to bring them together and integrate their bodily intelligences. Before I moved to China in 2012 I made a trio in collaboration with two dear colleagues of mine: Karuna Richards a gorgeous earthy Swiss modern dancer and Annie Lokomaikai’i Lipscomb a very talented Hula dancer and Hawaiian cultural specialist. I blended my experiences in Hawaiian culture, modern dance and Chinese martial arts as a way to prepare myself for Bridging Waters from Honolulu to Beijing.
As a choreographer I shift between structuralist approaches and feeling and theatricality. I challenged myself to tackle the compositional structure and dissonance of Stravinskys Rite of Spring and was very pleased to accomplish this and even be compared to Mark Morris in a review of my piece!
Recently I am moved by world events particularly the refugee and gun situation in America. When I lay in bed I am having visions of a new evening of work motivated by my experiences as an American but also as a global citizen of the world.
It is my duty to keep dancing and making and performing dances that make people feel, cry, laugh, question and connect in the moment. No other arts are as visceral and kinesthetic as dance.