Year: 2019-2020 DanceForce Member: Carlota Santana Artists: Leslie Roybal, Carlota Santana Community Partner: Kaatsbaan Cultural Park for Dance Audience: 790 Counties: Dutchess, New York Continue reading 2019 Flamenco Certamen→
DanceForce Member: Toni Smith
Partnering DanceForce Member: Kim Engel
Community Partners: Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company; EMPAC, Troy NY; Proctor’s Theatre, Schenectady; Russell Sage College; Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Skidmore College; The Egg, Albany; UAlbany Performing Arts Center; Union College, Schenectady
Counties: Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady
Year: 2021-2022 DanceForce Member: Kim Engel Artists: Michelle Y. Lee (visual artist) , Kris Seto (choreographer/dancer) Community Partners: UAlbany Art Museum; UAlbany Performing Arts Center Audience: 5,787 County: Albany
We first met when Ivan Sygoda introduced us at the DanceForce NY meeting in New York City in January 2019. This was less than a year before my company would perform in the BAM Next Wave Festival and in the impending Covid-19 pandemic. I was 28 years old and the recipient of my first major recognition, the Juried Bessie Award. My company at that time was made of a very close group of friends and roommates. I was the sole administrator for the company and was learning the logistics of touring for the first time with Ivan’s guidance. This was also while dancing with the Trisha Brown Dance Company who maintained a robust national/international touring schedule. At the time, KMC was making work that was focusing on the Black dancing body. That work manifested in our trio work Colored (2017), which was thinking about the wide spectrum that is the Black American experience. The work was deeply personal and shaped by the two other performers of the piece, Myssi Robinson and Oluwadamilare (Dare) Ayorinde. With the increase in visibility and Ivan introducing us to DanceForce, we embarked on our first experiences of touring. For the first time, I had to share and talk about my work that was culturally specific with audiences that did not look like me. I was also managing the touring logistics alone, driving everyone myself, meeting with presenters, performing and navigating some serious interpersonal conflicts within the group. Between Oct-Nov, 2019 we did 4 weeks of touring in upstate all while preparing a 5-show run at BAM at the end of the year. At the time I was 28 and experiencing these pressures for the first time all while trying to maintain a group that was strained by this new visibility. Four years later, I now see that this was all part of managing a dance company, but if you can imagine, we were a group of friends and not an organization at the time.
While challenging, those tours to Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Alfred University, Bethany Arts Community and Hudson shaped me and the company. I am 32 now and 2024 will mark KMC’s 10th anniversary season! From a collection of friends, we have grown into a full fledged dance company. I run KMC full time with the support of a company manager, visual director, marketing associate, lighting and sound designers and 5 brilliant, professional performers. In total there are 12 people on staff. We are paid industry level rates and are proudly still a predominantly BIPOC and Queer entity. While it is important to me that we reach diverse communities, I feel now that the subject matter of our work and our cutting edge aesthetic can be a bridge for folks from a wide range of experiences. We have now toured and been commissioned nationally by spaces like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the New World Symphony in Miami, FL and the ADF in Durham, NC. I have now taught at institutions like Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College and currently hold an adjunct position teaching at NYU. We are open to sharing and discussing our work with all people while staying rooted in our embodied experience and history.
DanceForce was such a gift to the company and gave us our first opportunities to share our work outside of NYC. Like everything on the first try, I did not get everything right. However, I am proud of those experiences because that learning led to the success we have today. We are building new works in 2023-24 around the music of upstate NY composer, Julius Eastman. We would be enthused to share this work and our current repertory with the Danceforce community. I hope that you can attend our performance Saturday, May 13th, witness the growth of the company and stay connected!