Get to know your local artists: Triad area
October 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
The NC Dance Festival comes to Greensboro this weekend! Each evening’s performance is different, so be sure to catch them both. Friday November 4 and Saturday November 5 at 8:00pm at Aycock Auditorium on the UNCG campus. Tickets at 336-334-4849. Check our website for more info.
In each city of the NC Dance Festival tour, a few local artists are invited to show their work on stage alongside touring artists. In Greensboro, the local artists selected for this year are both Artistic Directors of Triad dance companies.
Gary Taylor, founder and artistic director of the Winston Salem Festival Ballet, is a graduate of the UNC School of the Arts. Before retiring as a performer in 1997, he danced throughout the Southeast and he continues to teach widely. In 1999 he was awarded the Regional Dance America Choreographic Award, and in the same year, UNCSA honored him as the outstanding North Carolina Teacher in the Performing Arts. At S.E.R.B.A. 2004, he was awarded the prestigious Regional Dance America Choreographic Commission Award.
On Friday night, Gary Taylor will premiere an excerpt of the ballet “Metropolis,” created for the Winston Salem Festival Ballet. The excerpt is titled “Law of Attraction,” and features dancers Alejandra Dore, Sedrick Gillespie, Yaqshaan Medan, and Hilary Krott.
Karla Coghill is the Artistic Director of Sidelong Dance Company, based in Winston-Salem, NC. The company consists of performers living in the Triad from various dance backgrounds and locations. “A Solitary Journey…With Friends”, the piece that will be shown in Greensboro this November, was inspired by a friend’s battle with breast cancer. Coghill described the dance as representing “the struggles of an individual in the face of hardship. While others may provide comfort and support the individual must move forward on her own.” Sidelong Dance Company has performed in the American Dance Festival’s Acts to Follow, as well as other festivals and events in North Carolina. Interesting fact: Two of the dancers in Sidelong Dance Company are English teachers in triad high schools!
Rachel Silver, our intern, chatted with Karla Coghill about her company, its outreach programs, and the work “A Solitary Journey…With Friends” that can be seen this weekend. Click on the link below for the full interview.
Dance Project: You were selected as a local artist to perform in Greensboro for the 2011-2012 NC Dance Festival. When did you move to this area and what brought you here?
Karla Coghill: I moved to Winston-Salem from Washington, DC in 1998. My husband was offered a job at the medical school at Wake Forest University.
DP: In 1999, you founded Sidelong Dance Company in Winston- Salem. Over the past 12 years, what has changed?
KC: I don’t think that much has changed. I do have a little more trouble finding venues where my work can be performed. There were more spaces available to rent at reasonable rates when I first moved here.
DP:The piece your company will be performing this year is A Solitary Journey…With Friends. This was inspired by a friend’s battle with breast cancer. When did you create this work, and how did you begin choreographing?
KC: The work was created last year and performed in Winston in November. A friend and Sidelong dancer discovered that she had breast cancer and I wanted to create something to honor her. She has been incredibly strong throughout her treatment and while a community of friends came out to help her with groceries, errands and emotional support – ultimately she was facing the disease alone. I tried to portray that journey in the piece. My choreography is not literal, but I try to create emotional resonance. I want the audience to feel the sense of community and solitude in the piece.
DP: Do you perform with your company, or are you strictly the choreographer?
KC: I perform sometimes. I am basically the lord high understudy. I will not be performing in the Festival due to recent ankle surgery. I prefer to be the outside eye. I find it much easier to create and clean work when I am not in it.
DP: Sidelong Dance Company has several community outreach programs. What are the goals of your outreach?
KC: Our main goal is to bring dance to young people and give young dancers the opportunity to perform. We have an apprentice program which gives high school students the chance to perform with the company.
DP: How do you select dancers to join the company?
KC: I have several dancers that I have been working with for a long time. Most dancers with the company have contacted me directly when they have moved to the area. I will see and audition dancers on an individual basis if they express an interest in the company. Sometimes I will have an open audition if I need several new dancers.
DP: When holding auditions, what do you look for in a dancer?
KC: I look for strong technique, either contemporary or ballet. I also look for the ability to pick up combinations very quickly. All the dancers that work with me have day jobs. We rehearse only once a week so dancers need to be able to pick up a lot of choreography in intense, focused bursts.
DP: Can you tell us about a memorable performance your company has done outside of Winston-Salem?
KC: We mostly perform in Winston. We have done the NC Dance Festival tour twice and early on we performed in DC a couple of times. My goal is really to provide local dancers with an opportunity to perform and to provide dance that is accessible to the local community.
DP:After earning an M.A. from American University, you spent a long time performing with Shadowdance and D.C. Dance Theatre. From your experience, are there any differences between dance in D.C. and dance in North Carolina?
KC: When I was in D.C there were so many small companies and many of the dancers performed with more than one. Professional level contemporary and ballet classes were easy to find in the area and a great way to network with other dancers and choreographers. Several smaller performance venues were available to rent at a reasonable cost and many of these venues held showcases regularly. Individual choreographers could audition and present their work as part of one of these showcases. We just do not have the resources here that come with a big metropolitan area.
DP: What part of your training influences you the most today as an Artistic Director of a professional dance company?
KC: I think that everything that you do is influenced by all of your past experiences. I cannot point to one specific thing. I feel that I just have to continue to grow artistically in all directions to meet challenges as they come.