Today’s 10 Questions With… features Anne Kasdorf of The Space/Movement Project…
1. What exactly is The Space/Movement Project?
We’re a group of dancer/choreographers who are fully dedicated to a collaborative artistic process. We produce contemporary dance work primarily in the Chicago area, and we also manage two rehearsal spaces that offer low-cost rental to local artists.
2. How did this group come about?
The group was founded by three post-college dancers (one of whom, Stacy Wolfson, is still a member) who were feeling a bit exhausted by the city’s audition circuit. They were interested in performing and producing work but also recognized the financial and creative strain that going solo can create. TS/MP was born based on the idea that if they came together they could share the resources (space, dancers, production costs, etc.) necessary to fulfill their artistic goals. Although today our organization generally supports itself financially, the same supportive vision is still maintained.
3. What is unique about TS/MP?
TS/MP consists of seven members and seven artistic directors. When we make a dance, each and every one of us is formulating its entire development. Originally we gave ourselves the freedom to individually choreograph short stand-alone dances. Back in 2009, we applied for the Joyce SoHo/Columbia College A.W.A.R.D. Show and opted to submit two stand alone duets that we proclaimed we would combine into a simultaneous quartet. They definitely called our bluff and invited us to compete. At that point there were five of us working together to mesh the two dances, sharing in every decision along the way. With the enormous success of this project, (we were selected to be competition finalists and later presented the work at the Joyce SoHo in New York City) we recognized that we were onto something that really worked within our company vision. We’ve been creating evening-length works using this model ever since. I don’t know of any other dance groups-at least locally-who are applying this level of collaboration to their process.
4. What type of background do the dancers in this group have?
All of us grew up with pretty typical dance studio training and went on to dance in college in some capacity. We all have extremely varied careers alongside of our work with TS/MP. Our executive director, Allyson Esposito, is an attorney and program officer at a family foundation. Chloe Nisbett is a preschool teacher. Leah Raffanti is a teacher’s union organizer. All of our diverse experiences outside of the dance world truly inform how we work and what we create.
5. Are there any challenges in working within this type of democratic system?
Certainly-It’s taken us quite awhile to work out the kinks of this model. Some days there are hurt feelings and discrepancies and little disagreements. We realized not too long ago that 6/7 of us are eldest siblings. That dynamic in itself can be a challenge! But I think we have discovered a level of trust and respect over the past few years that allows for truly effective discussion and compromise.
6. What are the benefits to working in a group such as this?
Everyone feels a real sense of ownership over the company within the way we work. While Allyson, our fearless leader, definitely takes on the biggest administrative role within the group, everyone else is quick to jump in and help whenever necessary.
From an artistic perspective, I’ve found that as seven voices we really have the opportunity to inspire each other to expand our own thoughts on dance making. The ideas that arise only tend to incubate exponentially more ideas that would never have developed without the six other brains in the room.
7. You are collaborating with Rachel Damon/Synapse Arts, and Erica Mott for an upcoming show, “Receiver”—can you tell readers a bit about this?
We have partnered with Rachel Damon/Synapse Arts and Erica Mott for our premiere in The Dance Center of Columbia College’s 2011-2012 season. The show is March 8-10 and features new works from each group. Each group takes a different approach to the dance-theater genre; TS/MP focusing strictly upon dance, Erica taking a primarily theatrical approach and Rachel finding a middle ground between the two. Thanks to a grant from the MetLife/Audience Architects New Stages for Dance Initiative, this is a rare opportunity to see emerging local artists on The Dance Center season. The program that we’re presenting is fascinating and diverse. I’m not sure what other opportunity there is to see Icelandic cowboys represented in the same show as a dance hall air raid…
8. What has been the most rewarding part about the collaboration?
We are all extremely proud to be included on The Dance Center’s season. The planning that has gone into preparing this concert has been exciting, but I know we’re most thrilled to be on stage in a few days!
9. What do you think is the most important thing for people to know about TS/MP?
We’re committed to our process and each other and hope that story is told through our work!
10. What is next for you?
TS/MP is planning a local show for the fall and making a few appearances this summer. We’re also hoping to begin showcasing the work of other artists at our home studios this fall.
BIO: Anne Kasdorf is a six-year member of The Space/Movement Project where she also serves as Development Director. Anne has danced for Zephyr Dance and dropshift dance and taught extensively in Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District and local studios. She is also a freelance writer published in TimeOut Chicago and DanceSpirit magazine.