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Robert Abrams
Special Focus
The Alex Theatre
Celebrate Dance
United States
Greater Los Angeles
Glendale, CA

An Interview with Kate Hutter of L.A. Contemporary Dance Company about her upcoming performance in Celebrate Dance 2013

by Robert Abrams
February 18, 2013
The Alex Theatre
216 North Brand Boulevard

Glendale, CA 91203

Featured Dance Company:

Celebrate Dance
Celebrate Dance (office)

Los Angeles, CA

More information about Celebrate Dance 2013.
Robert Abrams: Art should, ideally, help us see past first impressions. It sounds like "Identity Theft", Kate Hutter's offering at Celebrate Dance 2013, will do just that in relation to a current events trend of critical importance. Ms. Hutter is the choreographer, as well as a dancer in the piece, and the Artistic Director of L.A. Contemporary Dance Company (LACDC).

Please describe the performance you will present at Celebrate Dance 2013.

Kate Hutter: We will be presenting a piece titled "Identity Theft". This piece is a new work inspired by a work I created in 2011. The imagery and musical choices were developed out of my reflections on a trip to Oman that I recently had taken with my family. Seeing many women shroud in burkas was a revealing experience for me. Walking the markets with their features completely indecernable, the most eyecatching features of the women were their handbags and the way they walked. I only could imagine how hard it would be for the small children walking with them to figure out who was mom, sister or grandma – or even related. But, it made me look closer at the idiosyncracies of their walk, gestures, postures, etc. This was remarkable and exciting as someone who analizes movement for a living. There was far more detail and nuance than met the eye at first. I also no longer felt they were being held captive in these garments, but at ease. I felt like a naïve westerner at that moment for thinking they didn't want to be dressed as they were. It was clear both in these first hand interactions, as well as the explosive imagery that came out of the Arab Spring that the burka did not distill or remove the ability to feel emotions or express them. This launched me into a love of obscuring parts of the body in order to reveal the nuance of others. This finally resulted in removing the face to enbolden the body. I also carried through the emotional underpinnings of the youthful revolution of the Arab Spring. Not necessarily a mob of resistance, but how individuals, couples and small groups dealt with the tumult and began to push back, and how this didn't necessarily result in immediate changes to the oppressive force nor the culture. It was a constant that slowly gained momentum. This is the development of the piece. Small steps that started the ball rolling.

As for the title, I was playing off the fact that the faces of the dancers are removed – as if this was their only means of identity. The truth being that their movement and bodies are just as expressive. And secondly, that being a caucasian female from Carson City, Nevada – and no cultural heritage or familial connection to the Middle East – I felt that, although with an artistic license, I was stealing an identity to create the work through another guise other than my own. Thus, "Identity Theft" was created.

RA: What is your role in the show?

KH: I am the choreographer, as well as a dancer in the piece, and the Artistic Director of LACDC

RA: Have you collaborated with anyone to create your Celebrate Dance presentation? Who have you collaborated with to create your Celebrate Dance presentation?

KH: I collaborated with the dancers in improvisations to develop some of the material.

RA: What has this collaboration allowed you to achieve that would not have been possible without it?

KH: I was able to share my ideas of the piece with the dancers and have them experience part of what I experienced during my travels by putting on an actual burka. This then allowed them to reflect and create movement that expressed their own perspective so it was not my vision alone that is reflected in the piece.

RA: What is "new" or "fresh" about the art you are presenting at Celebrate Dance?

KH: I feel the music, at times, is new and fresh for western audiences as it has roots in middle eastern culture. I also think it is new and fresh to not be able to see faces and refocus your eyes on the body of the dancer.

RA: How does your art build on what came before?

KH: I feel like I am a sponge for all that I see, and then it gets mashed up and reflected in my body…so I have a lot of influences from modern, to release, to contemporary and jazz in my work. I also think my fascination with gesture and the work of Ohad Naharin has been a big influence.

RA: How will your presentation inspire the audience?

KH: It will inspire a greater appreciation for body language and the emotional complexity that is harbored in the body without support from facial expression.

RA: Who or what inspires you?

KH: The dancers I work with and travelling the world greatly inspire my work. I think the diversity of L.A.'s community also provides a great deal of dynamic, influencial material to work from.

RA: How will your presentation entertain the audience?

KH: I hope it will fascinate and stir the gut of the audience…and they will find this entertaining.

RA: What makes your dance company a top-notch dance company?

KH: The quality of our productions and the amazing talent that our company attracts to perform with us.

RA: What is special or unique about dance in the Greater Los Angeles area?

KH: We have grit, are driven entrapaneurs, and are not afraid to pioneer the latest advancements in our craft, technology and cross-disciplinary collaborations.

RA: If audience members were seeing your Celebrate Dance performance for the second time, what should they pay special attention to in order to enhance their appreciation of your art?

KH: They would look for the transitional moments between movements and the interaction of dancers on stage. I love those humble movements that occur before and after a major movement…it is so vulnerable and reveals the humanity of the dancer. I don't want anyone to be fake on stage, so I push them to develop more of these moments for themselves and between each other.

RA: Does your art have an activist message?

KH: No. It is more an expression of something I witnessed and related to on a visceral level. There is no message.

RA: Do you work with schools or children? Please describe your educational work.

KH: Yes. We often provide masterclasses for schools as well as workshops to share our choreography with dance programs from middle school through college age students.

RA: What questions would you want to ask of members of the other dance companies in Celebrate Dance (other than the questions here)?

KH: How is preparing for a group presentation different from presenting only your work? Are there other factors you take into consideration? Do you feel any pressure to be the best or the crowd favorite?

RA: What else would you like people who are thinking about purchasing a ticket to Celebrate Dance to know about your art?

KH: LACDC is a repertory company. We have a variety of different pieces, and this is one voice amongst many. Celebrate Dance is a great way to see the diversity of L.A. choreographers and the many different types of dance that happen throughout the city. LACDC is much like this in our variety as we work with multiple L.A. based choreographers to put together our season. So, if you enjoy this type of variety, then you will enjoy LACDC's repertory concerts as well.
Kate Hutter

Kate Hutter

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Malcolm

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company 'Identity Theft'

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company
"Identity Theft"

Photo © & courtesy of Eric Mason

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company 'Identity Theft'

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company
"Identity Theft"

Photo © & courtesy of Eric Mason

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company 'Identity Theft'

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company
"Identity Theft"

Photo © & courtesy of Eric Mason

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company 'Identity Theft'

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company
"Identity Theft"

Photo © & courtesy of Eric Mason

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