Eric Skinner

ChamberVox shakes things up

Chamber Music Northwest and BodyVox dance to the music of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

At heart, dancing is moving to rhythm, and that means it’s almost inseparable from music. There are exceptions and variations: experimental cases when dances are created without sound; the Merce Cunningham/John Cage partnership, in which movement and music were created deliberately in isolation from each other so one would not influence the other, but were performed together; contemporary pieces with more or less arbitrary music that might better be described as “specimens of sound” (which, of course, can make their own sort of music); dances in which extended periods of silence are part of the score. But on the whole dance and music are pretty much happy bedfellows, cohabiting almost by instinct.

A fairy queen cavorting with a donkey: Anna Mara as Titania and Brent Luebbert as Bottom in "Midsummer." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

A fairy queen cavorting with a donkey: Anna Mara as Titania and Brent Luebbert as Bottom in “Midsummer.” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

So the relationship between Chamber Music Northwest, Portland’s premiere summer music festival, and BodyVox, one of the city’s leading contemporary dance troupes, seems like a natural, and it’s beginning to be a tradition. This year’s collaboration, which opened Thursday night at the BodyVox studio in Northwest Portland and continues through July 23, brings a third player into the mix, too: that musically savvy playwright, William Shakespeare. Titled Death and Delight, the program pairs a version of Romeo and Juliet set on Sergei Prokofiev’s R&J Suite with a new version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream danced to Felix Mendelssohn’s ravishing score.


Skinner/Kirk goes to church

The dance company's new show at BodyVox dives deep into the mysteries in its sparkling blend of old and new

Eric Skinner climbs atop a box on the stage, which is soon joined by another box, and another, and another. With each box he lifts a foot, slips the cube underneath, brings the other foot upward, and climbs higher. Five other dancers circle around him from below, handing him more boxes, which make the stack higher, the stepping-up trickier, the balance shakier.

At last, towering precariously above the safety of the stage, he squats on the highest box, legs crossed like a yogi in meditation. The room fills with a sound like echoes in a medieval cathedral. Suddenly Skinner grabs the scaffolding inches above his head. The boxes tumble to the ground; he’s dangling in midair. He sways, then drops in a deadweight, risking all. The other dancers catch him and ease him to safety. It’s a leap of faith.


Spinning wheel, dance by chance

BodyVox's new show of greatest hits takes a chance on chance, adding a comic lightness to a troubling time

“Awright, awright,” Jamey Hampton shouted into his microphone, sprinting onto the stage in his best Joel Grey/carnival-barker impersonation. “Here we go! Welcome to The Spin!”

I’m going to go way out on a limb here and suggest this isn’t the sort of opening you’d expect from, say, a Martha Graham dance concert. Then again, this is BodyVox, not Martha Graham, and in the world of BodyVox, where the view of American cultural history skews more through Mark Twain and James Thurber and Bee Bop a Lula and the vaudeville stage than through the Valley of Earnest Transcendental Gestures, the only surprise about a dance concert filtered through the TV game show Wheel of Fortune is that it’s taken the troupe 18 years to come up with it. After all, BodyVox operates under a couple of core assumptions that color its aesthetic approach: “entertainment” isn’t a dirty word, and humor is important stuff.

Hampton and company, taking a chance on dance. Jingzi Photography

Hampton and company, taking a chance on dance. Jingzi Photography

So, this is how The Spin landed on its opening night Thursday. The company’s nine dancers rehearsed 24 pieces – about 150 minutes of dance in all – from the repertory, and each title was entered in a slot on the giant spinning wheel, which multitasking stage hand Clark Young, sporting a bushy Portlandia beard and a shoulderless dress and answering to the name Manna White, rolled onstage between pieces. Hampton then cajoled someone in the audience to come on up and give ’er a spin. Then, depending on where it landed, the performers rushed to change into the proper costumes while Hampton, sometimes joined by his wife and co-company founder Ashley Roland, filled in the time with what the nightclub crowd refers to as “patter.” Sometimes it was a little story about how that piece came to be created. Sometimes it was a little bio about one or another of the dancers. Sometimes it was just … patter.


Skinner/Kirk: town & country

"Nat's Farm" and "Urban Sprawled" bridge the great dance divide in the company's sterling annual show at BodyVox

Vanessa Thiessen embraces life by jumping: high and rhythmically and joyously.  You can see it in her eyes, in her smile, in the stretch of her arms and legs, as she breathes in the sea air, smelling the salt, feeling the summer sun.

That solo takes place about midway through Nat’s Farm, Daniel Kirk’s and Eric Skinner’s new piece, which premiered on Thursday night at BodyVox as the second half of Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble’s annual concert.

From left: Thiessen, Kirk, Skinner in "Nat's Farm."

From left: Thiessen, Kirk, Skinner in “Nat’s Farm.”

Nat’s Farm was made last summer on Martha’s Vineyard, during a three-week Bessie Schonberg Choreographic Mentorship Residency at The Yard, an artist’s colony for which Schonberg, one of the founding mothers of American modern and contemporary dance, served as artistic advisor for some years before her death in 1997.  It is a wonderful breeding ground for dance. Thiessen, who like Kirk and Skinner is a former Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer, participated in the residency, as did composer Tim Ribner, who is responsible for the terrific score.

The piece begins with Ribner walking toward the musicians, beating a large shell solemnly and steadily against a small rock, while Native American storyteller Kristina Hook-Leslie chants a recorded “thank you for the gift, thank you for my life, thank you for the ocean, thank you for the wind, thank you for it all.” The dancers – Skinner, Kirk, Thiessen, Brennan Boyer and Holly Shaw – arrive on stage, dancing with ritualistic gravitas as the band starts to play, their steps a little  too on the beat.

Skinner and Kirk, at angles.

Skinner and Kirk, at angles.

The music, performed by Ribner, Max Ribner and Michael Dougherty, builds, sounding  like  waves hitting the beach, and the dancers shift to high-energy fluidity, executing pirouettes and lifts in a melding of modern and classical technique,  in response to the music and each other. I think of  Isadora Duncan, standing on the beach in Northern California early in the last century, inspired by the curve and curl and energy of the Pacific to develop a form of dance that is rooted in nature.  Skinner and Kirk have been going to Martha’s Vineyard for more than thirty years, and the impetus for Nat’s Farm comes from the Atlantic, as well as various occupants of the island: Hook-Leslie is a member of the Wampanoag tribe; Thiessen’s solo, Skinner says, was “inspired by two-week-old baby goats that we met the first day we were on the island.”

While it’s not a classic like Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Ribner’s score meets Kierkegaard’s requirement “that the music not appear as an accompaniment but reveal the idea.” That’s particularly true  for Thiessen’s solo, a kind of scat-song, and the trio for her, Skinner and Kirk that precedes it. In the latter case, the Latin-flavored music changed the ritualistic tone of what came earlier, and it was danced with such ebullience and effervescence that I stopped taking notes, the better to enjoy it.  What followed Thiessen’s frolicking dance was a ragtime tune for Skinner and Kirk, the lead-in for a duet that is all about their history with each other, the time they’ve spent dancing, and loving, and living and working together, those signature lifts of theirs saying it all about tenderness and support.

Nat’s Farm ends as it began, with the rest of the cast joining them onstage, then walking off quietly as Hook-Leslie finishes her story: “It’s a good thing, it is, we’re all a part of the ocean, I try to have these kind of talks with the little ones because if I don’t say it it will get lost, I don’t want it to get lost, I don’t want us to get lost and forgotten.”

Kirk and Skinner founded their company twenty-seven years ago, in 1998; they’ve been making work for a long time, and in Nat’s Farm that experience shows.  It is beautifully crafted and structured, visually interesting, and its dance, music, and text are very well-integrated indeed. If some of the lyrical moments are a bit too smoothly so, making them look mechanical rather than heartfelt, that is easily changed. My only real quibble is with the costuming: street wear combined with practice clothes, the woven, tailored shirts interfering with the line of the movement.

The company in "Urban Sprawled."

The company in “Urban Sprawled.”

That was really true of Urban Sprawled, which opened the program, and which was originally made by Skinner in 2007.  It is performed by the same cast as Nat’s Farm with the addition of the elegant Mari Kai Juras, who also dances with Eowyn Emerald. The crisp white shirts didn’t fit anyone very well: post-modernism notwithstanding, as my seatmate commented, there is a difference between ordinary clothes and costumes. Having said that, the neckties and suit jackets worn with slacks by the three men are part of the urban feel of the piece, just as the unison choreography, some of it looking like morning calisthenics, contributes to the anonymous feel of large cities. One witty section is reminiscent of Paul Taylor’s acidly funny Cloven Kingdom – no surprise there, since Kirk and Skinner performed in it when dancing with OBT. In general, the choreography is highly athletic for both men and women, with Thiessen holding the stage as she has been doing since she was a little party guest years ago in OBT’s Nutcracker.

Opening night had the atmosphere of a family reunion, speaking of OBT, with the ballet company’s artistic director Kevin Irving in the audience, as were a couple of board members, some long-time company supporters, and a chic-looking Alison Roper, lately retired as a principle dancer from OBT’s stage. Several had come specifically to see Thiessen, who left OBT for San Francisco and Michael Smuin’s company when the artistic directorship shifted from James Canfield to Christopher Stowell. She is now back in Portland, freelancing still in the Bay Area as performer and choreographer – and now, like Skinner and Kirk, a seasoned artist who, also like them, knows exactly what she’s doing on stage. Young companies, when they’re as good as Nederlands Dans Theater 2, which performed in Portland last week as part of the White Bird season, are wonderful to watch, to be sure. But there’s immense pleasure to be had in seeing the well-honed artistry that comes only with experience. Examples? Skinner and Kirk’s duet in Nat’s Farm and Thiessen’s solo. I thank them for the gift.


Skinner Kirk Dance Ensemble repeats its program at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 19-21, and 2 p,m, Saturday, Feb. 21, at BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 N.W. 17th Ave. Ticket information is here.

Dancing inside and out of the lines

Review: Skinner/Kirk's "Within the Lines" thinks entertainingly about fear, restraint, creativity, and crossing borders

A lot of the time, Eric Skinner’s new hour-long dance piece Within the Lines isn’t. Skinner and his four fellow dancers in the Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble spend the hour onstage at BodyVox Dance Center traversing the lines – slipping below or between them, stretching them into different shapes, hog-tying them into corners, wrapping themselves up in them, tripping or tromping on them, using them as springboards, snapping them in and out of shape.

It’s an always intriguing, often beautiful exploration of a question that’s physical, metaphorical, and even spiritual: what are our limits? Well, the line is wavy. But it’s fun and invigorating to watch as these five bodies try to figure it out.

Shaw and Skinner, all wrapped up. Photo: Christopher Peddecord

Shaw and Skinner, all wrapped up. Photo: Christopher Peddecord

Where do the lines come from? Immediately, from the mind and fabrication of artist Sumi Wu, who supplies the dancers with a series of elegant forms, or booby traps, or possibilities, or however you want to think of them. Consisting mainly of very strong stretch fabric and possibly plastic slats (program notes don’t make their construction clear), they’re like little string theories for movement, solid yet malleable, shifting with and against the performers. At various times they seem like clothes lines, circus high-wire ropes, swimming-pool lane markers, big-box gift ribbon, telephone wires, crime-scene tapes. One semi-flexible structure – the same one used in 2012’s Juxtaposed? – is like a cave-sized, see-through hexagonal prism, creating a barrier and a small performing space at the same time. As lighted by technical director James Mapes (who also did some of the fabrication), the dance between performers and set pieces is a rising and falling mystery, a visual banquet.


BodyVox-2: the future is now

The 'second company' is making a vital case for its slice of the BodyVox pie

Josh Murry, Holly Shaw in Jamey Hampton's "Alter." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Josh Murry, Holly Shaw in Jamey Hampton’s “Alter.” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

The house was packed Thursday evening for the opening of BodyVox-2’s weekend run of new and revived pieces, and the eagerness of the crowd suggested the growing conviction among Portland dance followers that this is no ordinary apprentice company.

What is it, then?

“We’re really trying to figure that out,” a pleased Una Loughran, the company’s general manager, said after Thursday’s performance at the BodyVox Dance Center. “It’s an evolving thing. When we started it we thought it was a two-year program. It’s obviously moved far beyond that.”

One thing it is, as this short run of performances through Saturday illustrates, is a tight ensemble of skilled performers capable of pulling off a polished and fully satisfying evening of varied short works. The company’s six members – Jeff George, Samuel Hobbs, Anna Marra, Josh Murry, Holly Shaw and Katie Staszkow – are young but not beginners, and they’ve developed the kind of well-practiced teamwork that allows them to relax and let their individual personalities also come across. Directed by main-company dancer Zachary Carroll, they’re at ease in the BodyVox style, which requires a playful and dramatic blend of acting and dancing skills, plus a taste for quirkiness and vaudevillian physical surprise. And they’re adaptable: the current show features premieres of works by four choreographers, and also dips into the repertory as far back as 1985, or before some of the performers were born.

Anna Marra in Eowyn Emerald Barrett's "I Asked of You." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Anna Marra in Eowyn Emerald Barrett’s “I Asked of You.” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

They’re also very much part of the present of the main BodyVox company, and they could be a very big part of its future. The BodyVox-2 dancers do a lot of the company’s school performances and residencies – a bread-and-butter task for a company like this – and they’re showing up increasingly onstage in the main company’s shows, too. This injects a shot of youth into what is a company of veterans, and it also expands the palette for BodyVox choreographers, allowing them to do bigger works with more dancers. More and more, BodyVox-2 is both an essential element of the main company and its own thing: like Nederlands Dans Theater 2 and Joffrey II, it’s developing its own following and identity.

Because of external events, the signal work among the four new pieces is Anne Mueller’s “Tuesday, 3:47 p.m.,” a witty, swift and prop-laden (table, chairs, giant water pitchers) short dance that blends contemporary pop motifs with a ballet sensibility. Mueller, a former longtime Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer, took over as OBT’s interim artistic director after Christopher Stowell’s surprise resignation late last year, and people inevitably will be reading “Tuesday, 3:47 p.m.” like tea leaves in an effort to see what she might be thinking about for OBT. That’s not really fair –  she choreographed this piece specifically for BodyVox-2, not for OBT, and it’s not a ballet, it’s a contemporary dance. Still, it has an airy feel, with both fluidity and grace, and a sense of humor, and a penchant for visual storytelling: the props and situations brought to mind some of the work Robin Lane has done with Do Jump! It’s a savvy, well-shaped piece: I liked it.

The other three new dances are closer to home: co-founder Jamey Hampton’s “Alter,” a tightly knit showcase for Murry and Shaw; veteran BodyVox dancer Eric Skinner’s “Feeling Unknown,” performed to music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross by the second company’s three women dancers; and “I Asked of You,” by onetime BodyVox-2 performer Eowyn Emerald Barrett, an intricate and yearning piece for all six dancers performed to Max Richter’s contemporary reconception of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” All three have polish, substance and spark. They know the dancers and the company style, even though they pull in different directions, from extreme physicality to coquetry to emotional tugging.

What comes across best in this program is how well the old and the new have become integrated, each bringing its own strengths to create a broader scope of possibilities. Suddenly, BodyVox feels like an institution in the best sense of the word: an organization capable of growing and evolving and regenerating itself. So maybe it’s fitting that both acts end with short pieces from the 1980s, before BodyVox existed, when Hampton and co-founder Ashley Roland were performing with ISO. In 1985’s “Scare Myself,” which Roland and Hampton danced around the world, George and Marra nimbly carry on the tradition. Presented in a puff of stage fog, it’s a witty crowd-pleaser, and a period piece within a period piece: when it was new it was already nostalgic for the social dance of the 1950s; now it’s nostalgic one more step removed. That makes it, again in the best sense of the word, charming.

Nineteen-eighty-seven’s “Psycho Killer,” created by Hampton, Roland, Daniel Ezralow and Morleigh Steinberg, comes from a similar place of puckish period theatricality, once again with stage fog (was this when steampunk started rolling?) and over-the-top whimsy. Performing to The Bobs’ bouncing rendition of the David Byrne tune, George, Murry, Shaw and Staszkow operate like a four-piston engine, conjoined at the ankles and bobbing, bouncing and bopping to the rhythm. It’s all a bit like following the bouncing ball in an old-time drive-in movie cartoon. It’s quite terrific to be reminded of what BodyVox came out of, how much of that original impulse has been retained and how much has been toned down, and how well a new generation can step into the old shoes and recapture some of the magic, even as they continue to explore their own variations on the BodyVox theme.

A good, smart program, all in all – and a promise of what’s yet to come.


  • BodyVox-2’s spring program concludes with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday (March 8) and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (March 9). Tickets are tight; information here.
  • Choreographer Barrett is planning to take a program of her work to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a six-day run in August, and it’ll have a BodyVox flavor, with Murry, Shaw, main-company dancer Jonathan Krebs and Barrett performing, and BodyVox technical director James Mapes along to run the lights.
  • Jamuna Chiarini wrote for ArtsWatch about the rehearsal process for three of the program’s four new pieces. Read her interviews with Mueller, Skinner, and Barrett.


Katie Staszkow, Anna Marra in Anne Mueller's "Tuesday, 3:47 p.m." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Katie Staszkow, Anna Marra in Anne Mueller’s “Tuesday, 3:47 p.m.” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert






Open rehearsal 3: Eric Skinner on choreographing with confidence

The last of a series of peeks at the BodyVox-2 concert, which begins Thursday

Eric Skinner rehearses his new piece for BodyVox-2./BodyVox

Eric Skinner rehearses his new piece for BodyVox-2./BodyVox


Originally from Muncie, Indiana,  Eric Skinner has had a hand in some of the most important dance developments in Portland during the past two decades, both as a dancer and choreographer. He was a founding member of Oregon Ballet Theatre, performed with Gregg Bielemeier, was a founder of aero/betty aerial dance theatre, and formed BodyVox Dance Company (with artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland), where he is now Artistic Associate. In 2002 Skinner with his partner Daniel Kirk, formed their own company, the Skinner|Kirk Dance Ensemble.

Skinner’s newest piece is titled “Feeling Unknown,” and it’s one of four new works, each by a different choreographer, created for the upcoming BodyVox-2 concert March 7-9 at the BodyVox Dance Center.  The choreography, danced to the song “Hand Covers Bruise” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, is for the three women of BodyVox-2—Holly Shaw, Anna Marra and Katie Staszkow. Having used mostly men in his previous choreography, this is Skinner’s first time choreographing for an all-female cast.

“My choreographing initially was just to create dances and initially there were several men around that were willing to come into the studio and participate,” Skinner said. “In those experiences I came to love the power, strength and grounded feeling you often get with men working and dancing together. That being said, this piece has all of those qualities and the women that are dancing it are wonderful. Holly, Anna and Katie are all amazing dancers. I never doubted that they wouldn’t be wonderful, but I had never created the opportunity for myself to set my work on just women until now. It has been a great experience and I am anxious to do more.”

The small section of “Feeling Unknown” that I saw back in January was vigorous and exciting.  Skinner says that “he likes ballet as a foundation but likes the variety that modern offers, something he can really sink his teeth into.” The choreography definitely reads as ballet-based but feels unrestricted and limitless in its expression.

The dancers began as three separate units facing off into a corner. As soon as the music started, they began revolving and weaving around each other, tossing one another into space as they traveled across the room like a whirlwind, separating at the end and walking off alone. The choreography had a sense of strength and power and propulsion. It’s was like watching someone turn a wind turbine on that blew the dancers across the room–and then turning it off.

Skinner is meticulous and driven in his artistic process. He admits to liking a deadline. “It’s all in there, you just need permission to let it out or a reason to.”

He teaches the dancers several phrases of movement at a time, watches them dance it, gives them detailed feedback and then repeats the whole process over and over, adding more and more steps as they go along. It sounds exhausting, but the dancers really enjoyed being part of the creation of this new piece. How the dancers responded to  Skinner’s feedback in the movement was as much part of the dance as his directions and vision.


Holly Shaw, Anna Marra and Katie Staszkow of BodyVox-2

Holly Shaw, Anna Marra and Katie Staszkow of BodyVox-2

Q: What is your choreographic process like?

“It seems to change all the time, at least in my mind (dancers I work with may beg to differ). I sometimes come into the studio with several long phrases of movement already prepared to teach the dancers. Then use those phrases to build the dance. Other times I will come in with music that is inspiring to me with nothing else prepared. I then climb up to the top of the high dive platform, take a deep breath, and jump. This method is scarier, but I feel that the movement comes from a deeper place and often times with better results. This is what I did for this new BV-2 piece, and I am very happy with the results. They are looking beautiful, and I am seeing them dance in ways I have not seen before.”

Q: Do you have any advice for choreographers on the process of making dances? How to start, how to get unstuck, how to work with and communicate with dancers, time management, how not to self-sabotage, etc.

“Start with confidence when you walk into the studio. Even if you have not prepared a step, know and believe that you can do what you are setting out to do. Every time you create something you are taking a chance. It would be boring otherwise. If you get stuck move on to something else and come back to what you got stuck on. Most dancers just want to believe in what they are doing and want to do the best they can, why else would they be there (it usually is not for the money!!). They are the one on stage and want to feel good about what they are doing, and that comes from the confidence the choreographer brings into the studio.

Time management is a tough one. You just need to stay on top of it and, like I said, if you get stuck, move on to something else.

Self-sabotage? Don’t over-think things and learn to edit.”

Q: How did Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble come into existence? What was the impetus to start the company? What are your plans for the company?

“As much as Daniel and I have loved our involvement in BodyVox, it is Jamey and Ashley’s creative vision in which we play a part. We both knew that we had a voice of our own that was different from theirs and needed a way to express that, and voila, Skinner|Kirk Dance Ensemble was formed. We are in the process of getting our 501(c)(3) non-profit status and the future will see what comes.”

Q: How have you sustained yourself as a dancer and an artist for so many years in terms of injury prevention and keeping yourself inspired?

“I have been extremely lucky as a dancer. Since I left college, I have been dancing professionally non-stop, except for about a year-and-a-half just after I left OBT. During that time I went back to school and I became a licensed massage therapist. Since then I have sustained my career as a dancer with BodyVox, teaching dance, and doing massage, and I do very little massage anymore. I now mostly teach, dance and choreograph.

As for staying inspired, I love what I do. I am blessed to have come from a family that enabled me to follow my passion, and this is the biggest gift in life that I could ever have been given. I count my blessings all the time. Thanks mom and dad!!

Injury prevention, I listen to my body, feed it well. Very little junk food and no fast food!”

Q: For me you are a role model in that you are dancing past the “normal” age for dancers. What is your philosophy on this topic?

“I want dance as long as I can and so I try to be smart about the decisions I make. I also tell all of my closest friends that they are my barometer, and that they need to be honest with me and tell me if it is time to hang up my dance belt.”



Q: I am interested in the creation of your piece “Juxtaposition” that you choreographed for your last concert. Who created the sculpture that you danced in and around? How did this collaboration come about? What was this process like?

I am always open and looking for collaboration and “Juxtaposition” was a wonderful collaboration on every level. The sculptures were an idea that I originally had driving around one day and then sketched onto paper. I then approached a friend and sculptress, Sumi Wu, who then brought them to life. The process was very exciting every step of the way, from my initial meeting with Sumi, to the creation of the actual sculptures, and then, when we put the lights on them…wow, I couldn’t believe how amazing and striking they were.

The live music came about in Josie Moseley’s modern class at BV. She has a live accompanist named Tim Ribner, he is amazing! He comes in and sits down at the piano, and when he starts playing, the most amazing sounds start coming out. Things that you never thought could or should be coming from a piano. I fell in love with his spontaneity, his improvisational skills, and his ability to capture the mood and vibe of the movement that was happening in the moment. One day I approached him after a class and asked him if he would be interested in creating music for this new dance I was working on. The ask was kind of in left field because I really didn’t know him, never worked with him, but I had a good feeling about him and felt it was worth exploring, and I am so happy I did.

The costume designer was another first time chance Daniel and I were willing to take and are very pleased we did. We had been to see a show earlier in the year where we liked the costumes very much. We made a mental note of the name Rachelle Waldie and when this project came around we contacted her. She was a pleasure to work with, and we loved thought and designs she brought to both pieces that she costumed. We would definitely work with her again.

Juxtaposition, skinner/kirk dance ensemble from Sumi Wu on Vimeo.

Q: Please talk about your experience with collaboration and what makes it successful.

“I feel that collaboration is a wonderful thing, and I love what a group can bring to the creation process. I like working with other people, I like having the input of others and bringing their ideas into the fold. Fortunately, I can’t think of any bad experiences. Some are tougher and more complicated than others, but you just have to keep the faith and trust in the people you are working with.”

Q: What is next for you?

“Next for me is putting on my dancer hat and going on a tour to Europe with BodyVox and then the final show of our season ’15’.”


Spending time in the studio watching the BodyVox-2 dancers prepare for their concert during the open rehearsal was simply sublime. I could have sat there forever watching them rehearse, but really I wanted to jump out of my chair and join in.  BV-2 is made up of a group of really sweet, beautiful dancers who are incredibly eager to learn and hard-working. I enjoyed getting to know them as dancers and people. It sounds a little clichéd but being able to see the behind the scenes development of a dance really adds another layer of value to the final product and makes it that much more special. And it made me eager to see the concert this weekend.


ArtsWatch observed the open rehearsal process for the dances of both Eowyn Emerald Barrett and Anne Mueller, and interviewed each of them.

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