Meet your Local Raleigh Artist: Ashley Spears

September 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

The 2012-13 NC Dance Festival opens this weekend in Raleigh!  Join us September 7 and 8 at 8:00pm at Meredith College–each night is a different program!  Stick around for the All Dance Festival on Sunday, Sept 9 at 3:00pm.  Full details at our website.

In each site, a local artist–or several–are chosen to perform alongside the Festival Touring artists.  This week, meet Ashley Spears!

photo by Marian-Kathryn Cranford

Ashley Spears will be presenting her work, How I Learned to be a Bird as Raleigh’s Affiliate Artist for the 2012 North Carolina Dance Festival.  Fellow Meredith graduates Kelsey Riner, Lacy Lowder, Matney Mura, Sheryl Scott and Jodie Saunders bring a bird family to life as they reflect on how they learned to fly, sing and be a family. The piece is set to a composition of spoken text performed by Sheryl Scott, written by Ashley Spears and work by Nils Frahm and Andrew Bird.

In asking Ashley to talk a little bit more about the inspiration and choreographic process behind How I Learned to Be a Bird, Ashley said:

“I drew my inspiration from the whimsical/romantic aspects of being a bird-which would be flying and singing/whistling and the idea of community dwelling.  I’ve just always been in love with the idea of flying and trying to create flight on stage.  I’ve read articles on navigation/migration, bone structure in wings, how the wings move in flight and the difference between birds flying in a flock and what they looked like individually on the ground. Usually I’m very specific in my vision when I set off to do a piece and I come to rehearsals with my own movement to teach-every single decision is made prior to arriving at the studio.  This time around I let myself have an overarching goal but I didn’t define specific elements prior to rehearsal.  I found this approach fairly frightening as I felt like I went to rehearsal unprepared but I was so excited to just see what came out of experimenting and letting the dance evolve on its own.  I think in the past I’ve defined a piece too early and was rigid in the compilation but with this piece I got to tweak and morph and modify until I found the most satisfying result.”

Ashley graduated in 2009 from Meredith College and holds a BA in Dance with a concentration in Dance Education and a K-12 teaching license. Her work has been performed at ACDFA (2008), The Triangle Dance Benefit for AIDs (2009) and Meredith College (2007 – 2009). Ashley has trained under Carol Finley, Joan Nicholas-Walker, Talani Torres, Courtney Greer and Alyson Cowell-Waber.  Since graduating, Ashley has performed for Courtney Greer, Renay Aumiller and Carol Finley.  Currently Ashley resides in Raleigh and is a Project Specialist at Cisco Systems in Research Triangle Park.

Up next on the blog: A special video interview with Festival choreographer and Dance Project Artistic Director Jan Van Dyke, as she talks about her choreographic process and the influences on her dance, “Time.”


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