Meet the Artist: Courtney Greer
October 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
North Carolina artist Courtney Greer, whose work can be seen in this year’s NC Dance Festival, talks about her different teaching, choreographing, and performing experiences.
Dance Project: Congratulations on having your work selected for the 2011-2012 NC Dance Festival. First of all, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, and how you began dancing.
Courtney Greer: I’m from Oak Island/Southport, NC. I started dancing because my Mama was a dancer. I grew up watching her take dance class and I loved going to the dance studio to watch her. I started dancing when I was 5 years old. My dance teacher was also my best friend’s mother.
DP: The piece being shown this year is “A Request To Be Met…Not to Be Answered.” How do you cast dancers for your choreography?
CG: A lot of the dancers I am working with right now were former students. They are Enloe dance alums who have either majored or minored in dance in college. I am honored that they want to return to work with me and I’m so thankful that they are still dancing and pursuing their creative expression through movement.
DP: You have been teaching Pilates for quite a while. What sparked your interest in Pilates?
CG: I attended the UNC School of the Arts. I was required to study Pilates my junior and senior years as a dance major. The dance program received a generous donation of Pilates equipment from private and non-profit organizations. We earned independent study credit for working out in the Pilates studio that had 4 reformers and a cadillac. Pilates made such an impact on me because I realized that I was very fortunate to have such a tremendous educational opportunity. I quickly noticed that regular workout sessions in the Pilates studio improved my overall conditioning and helped me remain injury free. Soon after I graduated I became certified.
DP: You have also been an instructor at Enloe High School for quite a while. What is it like to teach dance in a public school?
CG: Teaching dance in an arts magnet school such as Enloe is a very rewarding experience because I have students who are passionate about dance and are committed to learning new ways to be creatively expressive.
DP: What are the differences between teaching high school students and setting choreography on professional dancers?
CG: When setting work on high school students I take into account their needs and interests. It’s a collaborative process with an objective to inspire students to challenge themselves as young artists. I guide them through creative processes that challenge them to be inquisitive and connect meaning to movement.
When I work with professional artists I enjoy the opportunity to explore ideas that are personally inspiring while taking into consideration the group dynamics and each dancer’s individual characteristics.
The work I make as a teacher informs the work I create as a professional artist and in turn my professional growth enriches my students.
DP: As a performer, you have appeared in many different artists’ works. In addition to performing all over NC, you have traveled to other states and as far as Cuba. Name one memorable performance you did outside of NC, and tell us a little about it.
CG: The Cuba Project was a unique experience that Amy Chavasse, the artistic director of Chavasse Dance and Performance organized in partnership with Middlebury College. We toured around Cuba and participated in cultural exchanges with the people of Cuba and Cuban artists. Cuba is such an inspiring country because music and dance is a vibrant part of their everyday existence – when walking down the sidewalks you hear music and see people dancing at all hours of the day. Observing the positive reactions to our performances provided excellent feedback to my overall performance and reinforced that dance is universal and it inspires cultural competence and understanding.
DP: What is next for you as a choreographer?
CG: I am very interested in dance for the camera work and I want to develop new ways to communicate my creative voice through multi media projects.
Thanks to Courtney Greer for talking with us. You’ve got several chances coming up to see her work: October 27 in Boone, November 4 in Greensboro, and February 25 in Wilmington! Want to see rehearsal footage from her choreography? Check out this earlier post.