Today on “10 Questions With…” we have a fellow Chicago dance professional who I met online and have gotten to know and like very much. Her name is Lauren…
1. How did you become involved in dance?
When I was 6 years old, my parents took me to see a podiatrist because I was experiencing a lot of ankle pain during the night. I pronate and have a very high arch, and the doctor recommended ballet as a way to strengthen my feet and ankles. I had always wanted to do gymnastics, but once I started ballet the love affair did not stop.
2. What are you currently doing in the field?
I wear a lot of hats. The non-traditional trajectory of my career has lead me to pick up skill sets in production, sound design, teaching, writing and non-profit management. Currently I am the Performing Arts Coordinator at a non-profit organization, where I run dance, music, and theatre programs in addition to managing a black box venue that we rent to small performance groups. I also teach, and am training in the Cecchetti Method. I’ll take my grade II teachers’ exam this January! I serve on the board of directors and write grants for a small dance company, freelance as a modern dancer/choreographer, stage manager and sound designer, and write a dance science column for Dance Advantage. It’s a busy life!
3. Can you share a special moment from your career?
I’m not sure if “special” is the right word, but certainly one of the most significant moments in my career was when I tore a ligament in my foot during a dress rehearsal a couple days before graduating from college. I was on a one-track path to be “a dancer.” That all changed when I got injured and it lead me to carve a different path in the field than most dancers. I went back to school to pursue a Masters in Kinesiology, and have slowly returned to the dance world. I guess you could say I’m a “late bloomer”! I had to really evaluate what dance meant to me and what part I play in the dance community.
4. What advice would you offer other dancers?
Have a plan B. And a plan C. There is a strong possibility that things won’t work out as you planned them!
6. Do you have a favorite dancer or choreographer? If so, what is it about them that makes them stand out?
Trisha Brown is an idol of mine. I love the intricacy and intelligence she brings in her approach to making dances.
7. What is the best advice you have ever received regarding dance?
“If you want to be an artist, you have to step off the edge, even without a net. You can build the net on the way down!”
8. Where do you think dance is going as an art form?
I think that dance is at an exciting crossroads. Different styles of dance have become so accessible with the advent of reality TV, but in the modern dance community we still struggle to get butts into seats. There has been a lot of focus in the past decade or so on process-oriented dancemaking in which the audience and final product are inconsequential to the “art”. I think this was a really important development in validating dance as a serious art form. However, with grant money dwindling and the dire state of the economy, we can no longer rely solely on foundations and grants to support our work. Increasingly, we need the support of our audience! That doesn’t mean that we need to add toe-touches to modern dance, but that we somehow find a way to communicate with them and let them in to the process.
9. What is it about dance that you love so much?
I’m definitely an intellectual. I like talking and writing about dance as much as I enjoy doing it. I’m not that dancer who feels compelled to perform or gets that magical feeling on stage. My love for the field lies in the studio and within the creative process.
10. What is next for you?
I’m definitely interested in continuing to pursue opportunities to make dances. Chicago has a lot of opportunities for emerging artists, and so I’m now writing grants for myself as well as for others. I have also really enjoyed becoming a part of the dance writing community and the connections I’ve formed through Dance Advantage. I guess what’s next is to just keep doing what I’m doing!
Bio: Lauren E. Warnecke, M.S. is a Chicago-based dance artist, educator and administrator. She is currently the Performing Arts Coordinator at the Menomonee Club for Boys and Girls. Lauren trained at Barat College Conservatory of Dance and holds a BA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Columbia College Chicago and an MS in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a member of the Cecchetti Council of America, a columnist at Dance Advantage, and an active member of the arts community as a collaborating artist for Synapse Arts, where she is also a grant writer and serves on the Board of Directors. Lauren volunteers in her community as a Master Composter and the Co-Chair of educational programs at Glenwood Sunday Market. She loves to go hiking, bake scones, and dig in her garden.