Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company
Three on a match
Kathy Dunn Hamrick isn't going to let just any dance troupe share a bill with the company that bears her name. Her decision to include Chaddick Dance Theater and Armstrong/Bergeron Dance Company in the program An Evening of Contemporary Dance, running this week at Ballet Austin's AustinVentures StudioTheater, was made with the deliberate care of a designer or, as she herself puts it, a curator. She saw their work as being grounded in artistic and aesthetic considerations similar to her own and felt their collaboration would yield dances that were not only complementary to her own but contrasting as well. And that would prove illuminating for audiences. Here, she shares with the Chronicle how this evening came about.
Austin Chronicle: How did you come to know the work of these other companies and the choreographers who run them?
Kathy Dunn Hamrick: Christine Bergeron performed with my company before becoming director of the dance program at Texas A&M University and co-director of Armstrong/Bergeron Dance Company. As it turns out, all three dance faculty members at A&M – Christine, Carisa Armstrong, and Katy Byrne – are showing works in our upcoming concert.
After 22 successful artistic seasons in San Francisco, Cheryl Chaddick moved to Austin in 2007 and formed Chaddick Dance Theater. Both Cheryl and I teach modern dance in the community, direct our own dance companies, and share similar goals, passions, and struggles. Together, we're putting up a united front!
AC: In the press release, you're quoted as saying that you chose Chaddick and Armstrong/Bergeron very deliberately, from a curatorial standpoint. What is that common ground that you see in these two companies that make them complementary to your own company?
KDH: All three companies emphasize mastery of modern dance technique, movement invention, and the craft of choreography. The six participating choreographers are going into their own separate studios with the same intention: to coerce bodies into a work of art that reveals something about them and connects with something in you, the viewer. Though all the choreographers share this common ground in the studio, it is striking to me how different the dances will be once they are completed. This is exactly what continues to excite me as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, audience member, and human being: the endless possibilities to experience something new and meaningful.
AC: What did you hope to see in a program that incorporated these three companies? Did you suggest anything to Cheryl Chaddick or Christine Bergeron in terms of the kind of dances that they should create for the show? Did the three of you collaborate in any way on the program or talk about the dances as you were developing them?
KDH: Having been a professional choreographer for almost 30 years, it's not often that someone shows me something I haven't already seen or done myself. However, knowing these two companies as I do, I have no doubt they will offer me, and the audience, an element of surprise, a moment of striking beauty, and a truthful experience. In terms of artistic criteria, that's how I define a successful performance and why I chose these particular companies.
AC: What common ground do you think the audience will see in the three dances? And what are those differences among them that you find so striking?
KDH: The most obvious similarity among the companies is that all three companies dance, and I'm talking virtuosic, often athletic, finely tuned dancing. That's not to say there isn't also attention paid to stillness, gesture, or pedestrian movements, because those elements are definitely part of our movement vocabulary, but we are all drawn to the acute physicality of dance. Even so, the range of dances is remarkable. Each and every one is a unique portrait of its choreographer – and its dancers – at this one very brief moment in time.
An Evening of Contemporary Dance runs Thursday-Saturday, June 17-19, 8pm, at AustinVentures StudioTheater, 501 W. Third. For more information, call 934-1082 or visit www.kdhdance.com.