“I think you’ll see that cycle, which continues in life. We have to recycle ourselves, mutate, grow and change to survive,” says Theresa Bautista, dancer, teacher, choreographer and founder of Moving Collective.
After 10 seasons, Moving Collective is trying to mutate and grow, so Bautista easily could be talking about the company itself, but she’s actually describing ‘Vicissitudes,” which will be performed as a part of “Set and Reset,” the evening of works that will kick off the company’s 11th season on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Ursuline Arts Center.
“Vicissitudes” is a piece about evolution. It uses the idea as a conceptual seed for movement — imagine the wide range of movement between crawling and flying — and as a thematic concept about who we are as humans.
For more than a decade, Moving Collective has brought a variety of modern dance choreographers to Louisville audiences, but it’s not a dance company; it’s a loose collection.
“We’ve had choreographers from 10 states, and we’ve had over 50 choreographers and over a 100 dancers in our concerts,” Bautista tells Insider. “(It’s for) people who are from Louisville, people who have left Louisville, people who have heard of us and just said, ‘Hey, I’d like a place for my work to be seen.’”
If the format has been so successful, why the change? Louisville has been without a dedicated modern dance company since just before Moving Collective was founded, an absence that has not gone unnoticed.
“There was a lot of people in the dance community who kept saying, ‘Why isn’t there a modern dance company in Louisville?’ And they all felt like we could support one, and people always look to me and say, ‘Why don’t you do that,’” says Bautista. “The reason I have not done it in the past 10 years is because it takes a lot of work … Moving Collective is something I do because I love dance and I love the community, but it does not pay my rent.”
Starting a serious company, be it theater, dance or even an orchestra, is a tricky proposition that includes at least a few years of working for free before it becomes a paying gig. And that’s the best case scenario. For Bautista, she wasn’t able to take the responsibility on by herself without the right partner.
Enter Amanda Browning, who — starting with “Set and Reset” — is the new co-artistic director of Moving Collective.
“With Amanda coming to Louisville and feeling she was going to settle here … I said, ‘If you are willing to commit to this, then I’m happy to move forward, because I feel it’s what Moving Collective needs to do to grow,’” Bautista says.
Before taking an active role, Browning spent two years performing with the company and choreographing. She tells Insider there were some challenges of taking on a leadership role for the collective’s new direction.
“I’ve never produced a show before,” she says. “I feel like I’m on a steep learning curve, not only producing but also leadership.”
The goal for Moving Collective is to become a full-time modern dance company. “To have more concerts and to have a core of dancers we work with and train — and, eventually, our goal is in five year’s time, to have everything in place that we are a company,” says Bautista.
Browning notes that becoming a company will expand Moving Collective in other ways as well. “(It’s) not just performing, but outreach, getting into the community and teaching about modern dance.”
Though the discipline is more than a hundred years old, modern dance still hasn’t quite caught up with ballet, its older sibling. Most Louisville-sized towns have a successful ballet company, but full-time modern companies are a little fewer and farther between.
While Moving Collective stretches to grow, you can still expect them to feature regional choreographers and performers.
“(It’s) a format we don’t want to lose, because it helps us grow our community, and also, we’re helping the Louisville audience see what is going on in dance, outside Louisville,” says Bautista.
For “Set and Reset,” one such regional choreographer is Faryn Kelly, a Lexington native and recent graduate from Wright State University’s dance program. Kelly is excited to hit the road and explore the wide world since graduating last spring, but first she’s sharing her work with Louisville.
She tells us the dearth of modern dance companies extends to her hometown as well. Finding places to showcase her work is important, as she looks for opportunities outside the traditional bastions of American dance.
“These days, it’s not just New York and L.A. — you don’t have to live there to be in the arts,” says Kelly.
Her piece, “Jettison,” was originally set as part of her capstone project at Wright State. “It kind of resembles something I think happens in relationships often times, and not just romantic relationships — any kind of relationship between two people,” she explains. “You’re going along together, and someone … is too heavy, and one person has to go.”
With a continued regional reach and exciting growth in town, it should be a particularly exciting time to watch Moving Collective. Their next mutation? “ID,” a full-length work, choreographed by Bautista and Browning, set to debut in February.
Insider will keep you updated on the changes and growth, but first check out “Set and Reset” on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Ursuline Arts Center, located on the Sacred Heart Campus at 3113 Lexington Road. Tickets are $20 for general admission or $15 for students and seniors.