Kelsey Middleton dances with the contemporary dance company Visceral Dance Chicago
1. How did you first become involved with dance?
I started dancing at the Academy of Movement in Music in Oak Park, IL at the age of 12. Both of my younger sisters were enrolled in ballet classes and I thought it looked like something I would enjoy.
2. What are you currently doing in the dance field?
I’m currently in my second season with Visceral Dance Chicago. We are busy preparing for our fall engagement at the Harris. When I’m not rehearsing with Visceral I also like to find time to collaborate on small projects with other dancers in the Chicago community.
3. What is the best advice you have received about dance?
The best piece of advice I’ve received about dance is to stay focused on myself and trust in my own journey. It’s so easy to compare your progress with your peers or covet the careers of dancers you admire. While it’s only natural to compare yourself to the other artists, the only way you’re going to grow and achieve your goals is by focusing on your own unique strengths and weaknesses.
4.What do you find most challenging about dance?
I’ve always been a highly self-critical person. This definitely presents its challenges as dance classes and rehearsals are largely centered around receiving corrections. I’m working to find some levity in my dancing and to simply not be so hard on myself. I also try to remember to hone in on my strengths just as much as I work to improve on my weaknesses.
5. What dance achievement are you most proud of so far?
Becoming a member of Visceral Dance Chicago has been my proudest dance achievement thus far. It was a dream come true.
6. What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in dance in college?
The best piece of advice I’d have for students choosing to major in dance is to remember that the dance world is much larger than the specific institution you choose to attend. It’s imperative to be as open to new ideas and to see as much as you can that may or may not be inside of your comfort zone. Once you’ve been exposed you can learn to accept or reject these ideas and create your own personal aesthetic. Use this time to explore and enjoy it while it lasts.
7. What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning a professional dance career?
The best piece of advice I could offer to someone beginning a dance career is to trust yourself. Ultimately, you are where you are for a reason. Whether you know what it is or not, the best thing you can do is give it your all and always try to bring your best self forward physically and mentally. The more you invest in your own personal development the more you’ll learn about yourself as a dancer and see the unique qualities you have to offer.
8. Who/what are your dance inspirations?
There are so many things that inspire me as a dancer. Music is a huge one. I’m also drawn to the inner dialogue I have with myself to stretch my limits. To me, nothing is more exciting than seeing people do things they never thought they’d be able to do before. I also draw a great deal of inspiration from my fellow company members. They are amazingly beautiful creatures.
9. What do you enjoy most about being a dancer?
The thing I enjoy most about being a dancer is that this career is so passion driven. I feel it’s a special thing that people choose devote their lives to something that has so little material reward yet requires so much physical and emotional commitment. It may sound cliché, but dancers do sacrifice so much all for the love of dance; that energy is palpable in the studio and feeds me to do what I do every day.
10. What is next for you?
I couldn’t tell you exactly what’s next for me. I do know that I would love to travel and see more of the world. I’ve barely been outside of the states! Other than that, I want to continue to participate in work that inspires me and to grow as an artist.