This week 10 Questions With… features Summer Templin Culp…
1. How did you become involved with dance?
I grew up in a small town (less than 2000 people) and when I was young, there were not any dance teachers or studios in the area. My father took me to see dance concerts whenever they were nearby, but although I loved dance very much and would dance in my own living room or back yard, I was never able to take classes.
When I was 14, a dance studio opened in a town that was about an hour and a half away and I enrolled in every class that I could on Tuesdays and Saturdays – my parents would take turns driving me to dance class and I was able to take 8 hours of classes per week in this manner. When I turned 16, my parents moved across the state, to a much larger town, and I was able to enroll in a conservatory training program, dancing 6 days per week.
2. What are you currently doing in the field?
I currently teach ballet and modern to ages 4 – adult. I have just recently moved, but prior to my move I was dancing with an aerial dance company and a modern dance company. I am looking for additional performance opportunities in my new community.
3. Would you share a special moment from your career with readers?
The first person I remember seeing on stage as a dancer has been an incredible inspiration to me throughout my life. In college, I asked her to be a part of a choreographic project in which she collaborated with the director of the ballet company I danced for and one of my modern teachers to create a cohesive piece of choreography which displayed my talents as a dancer and performer. The experience of being able to work with three of my mentors at the same time was absolutely awe-inspiring. I wish everyone would have such an opportunity!
4. What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?
To continue to keep experiencing and looking at dance as I did when I first started – from the humble perspective of a newcomer who is ready to learn and be awed.
5. What has been your greatest challenge?
I was in a car accident about ten years ago – I sprained almost every ligament and tendon and strained many muscles in the right side of my body. Additionally, I experienced a closed head injury which damaged portions of my brain. I had to relearn some language and initially my doctor’s were not sure I would ever walk “normally” again – let alone dance.
Recovery from the car accident was traumatic and for a while, it seemed like I would never dance again. There is some lasting nerve damage in my back, but other than that, I have recovered to the point that very few people even know about my accident today, and cannot tell.
6. Do you have any advice for dancers that want to go on to a professional career?
It is important to stay true to yourself and find what works for you. Rather than fitting in to a cookie-cutter mold that you think a dance company wants, find a company that fits you.
7. Do you have a special routine that you go through before a performance?
I try to quiet myself and my nerves, I am generally pretty quiet. I had a modern dance teacher that choreographed a sort of kata (Japanese word describing detailed patterns of movements practiced to prepare the body) as a warm up, I use piece of that and mix in some of the more challenging steps in the choreography I am about to perform. Also, I stand in the wings and close my eyes before I go on stage, setting my intention for the performance.
8. What is your biggest strength as a dancer?
I am told that I am able to relate very well to the audience and make strange/foreign concepts seem human.
9. What do you enjoy most about your life in dance?
I adore that I get to spend each day doing what I love and teaching others, too.
10. What’s next for you?
I have just started teaching two days a week at a new studio. I am looking for teaching or performing opportunities and have just discovered Gyrotonic/Gyrokinesis. I am looking at the possibility of becoming an instructor.
Bio: Summer Templin Culp grew up in Telluride, Colorado, where she began dancing at the age of fourteen under the direction of Shirley Fortenberry and Valerie Madonia. Her family moved to Boulder, Colorado shortly afterwards where she continued to train with and be inspired by a wide-variety of teachers including Peter and Ana Claire Davison, Katie Elliot, Jillana, Michelle Ellsworth, Vernon Windsor, Gabe Masson, and Erika Randall. Summer received her BFA in Dance, with an emphasis in choreography from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Summer has performed independently in works choreographed by Lindsay Pierce, Viki Psihoyos, David Lorence-Schefflers and Angie Yeowell. Summer has appeared in solo and group pieces in the American College Dance Festival and as a company member with Boulder Ballet, the Cabiri and Redd Legg Dance. Her choreography has been performed across the Denver Metro area and in the 2010 Beyond the Threshold: Seattle International Dance Festival.
Summer is passionate about bridging the gap between contemporary ballet and modern dance and helping the next generation of dancers cultivate their artistry through well-rounded, healthful and holistic training.