As co-director of the Seattle performance company Salt Horse, she works with Beth Graczyk and Angelina Baldoz to build “physically activated visual art and costuming.”
She’s worked frequently at Velocity Dance Center over the years and will be one of the featured artists at their annual Fall Kick-Off on Sept. 26 to 29. The event begins on Thursday with the “Big Bang! Performance” party and continues throughout the weekend with showcases of Seattle artists like Befort.
She recently discussed how her relationship with Velocity has contributed to Salt Horse and her dance career.
When did you first become aware of Velocity?
Around 1997/98, soon after they opened. I was still in Cornish [Belkin graduated in 1999]. That was when I was on my "I'm going to take class every day of the week" kick (what a luxury!) and so was dancing there quite often on weekends.
How did the studio and its support of local dancers contribute to your career?
In every way possible. So many of my earliest opportunities came through Velocity and continue to come through them, both as a generative artists and as a dancer. I think I was a choreographer for one of the first Bridge Projects. I transitioned from student to teacher/choreographer for Strictly Seattle just before I moved to Japan in 2005 and toured our first Salt Horse work through SCUBA just after returning to Seattle in 2008. I've rented space for rehearsals and produced two evening-length works in the old Oddfellows space.
Has it changed any for you?
In the past few years I have felt supported in a different way though. Tonya Lockyer [Velocity’s executive/artistic director] and her superhuman team are doing a great job of really paying attention to the dance artists in Seattle and making Velocity a facile, responsive and engaged organism that both reaches out and offers entry. Even when its not directed toward me or my interests, their continually renewing, shifting vision is stimulating.
What work have you selected for the Fall Kick-Off?
"Aphorisms" by request, which was kinda lovely. I created it originally for composer Tom Baker's solo evening. It recently was performed in the Seattle International Dance Festival. I think it was requested because the costuming is somewhat unusual. The New Albion described it as: "hilarious, obscene, terrifying, completely alien and absolutely human all at once - morbid self-consciousness embodied." Probably my favorite description of my work ever. I like performing it because it proposes very different, semi-impossible physical states very close to each other in time. The first is a kind of magnetic resistance/attraction to shape and the other an expression of radical ebullience.
With Salt Horse, you've managed to push the boundaries of where dance happens...and what contributes to it. Right now, what are some of the innovations that you're seeing around Seattle or elsewhere that excite you?
Abstract expressionist painting, Japanese sensibilities in texture and line, landscapes and topographies, pervasive patterns in nature, and fractal geometry. The first two were gorgeously supplied by Seattle Art Museum recently. We were able to perform in their REMIX alongside Francis, Stella, Louis, Gorky and Frankenthaler. I'm incurably addicted to topography and made expeditions into the High Sierras, Colorado Rockies and out to the Channeled Scablands in the last two months. Also tracking what A K Mimi Allin is up to. Mimi and I are working at the same restoration site right now. It’s a total pleasure to be in her company and hear her thoughts. Are any of these strictly innovative? Not sure, but they are absolutely inspiring.
What do you expect to see happening in dance over the next year or two?
Oh gosh. Here's what I'm hoping for anyway: a return of attention to choreographic patterning in ensemble, full-bodied internally engaged dancing, a disappearance of the "tyrannical, bully-choreographer" model, and continuing challenges to the standard presenting avenues.
What's next for you after the Fall Kick-Off?
Salt Horse is currently working with Cornish dancers on a new site-specific piece at Seattle Center that will happen November 3 and 9. In December, I'll be teaching in Murcia, Spain, in the Inesperadamente Festival after which I'm heading into Portugal to shoot a short film and douse myself in the landscape. In March 2014, Salt Horse will premiere an as yet unnamed evening-length piece produced by Northwest Film Forum. Currently I'm teaching dance filmmaking at Cornish and working on pushing this texturally articulated costuming/visual art thing I've been working with further.
Mayor’s Arts Award and Genius Award winner Velocity Dance Center provides a full calendar of events and classes for Seattle's dance community at 1621 12th Ave. Check their website for a complete calendar.