Dance has always been a little foreign to me. No kidding, I have had professional dance instructors feel sorry for me in public. After that, I pretty much gave up on trying to understand and accepted dance was just not going to be a thing for me.
I met Rachael Hulse, executive director of Dance Waterloo, through a mutual friend and decided it was time to try and understand the world of dance again. She not only offered to explain it to me, she brought in Elizabeth Wood, the Communications Coordinator, and Morgan Mackay Teel, the Artistic Director, to help educate me too.
I encourage you to keep reading and learning about the incredible work they are doing all around Austin at Dance Waterloo.
EAA: What is Dance Waterloo trying to accomplish?
Rachael: Dance Waterloo wants to bring dance to the hands and feet of Austin. We want to incorporate art INTO the life that is already happening around our city by taking it outside into public space. This is where just as many people can come across it accidentally as those who attend purposely.
Morgan: We are bringing dance to where people already are – creeks, libraries, parks, and more! People can experience dance as a participant in a class or a viewer in a performance. It’s a way to build and bring community together for a shared experience that reminds them of Austin’s history, present, or future.
EAA: Why dance? What makes it unique from any other art form?
Morgan: Dance is not as recognized as other art forms because it is not always as tangible. It is an experience that comes and goes. This is especially true for site-specific dance. We can record a video of a performance along Waller Creek but it is not the same as being there to hear the sounds of the crickets in conjunction with the music and feel the crisp autumn air while watching the dance. There is human connection in dance that makes it relatable to audiences. We are you and you are us. We are together for this shared experience.
Elizabeth: You can’t write it down or paint it. It’s different with each performance. It’s unlike other performance art because it is expressed solely through the body. Although our body makes up the majority of our communication, and although dance does communicate, it is entirely up to the audience what message they receive.
Rachael: It happens, and then it’s over. Even if the performance is repeated, it will never be the exact same. There is a thrill in the possibility of “what could be” every time it occurs that can be felt by the dancers, as well as the audience.
EAA: Why the focus on public spaces?
Morgan: We like to bring dance to where people already are. We love to make dance approachable to new audiences that might not typically make their way into a traditional dance space. People are public in public spaces. That means they feel more freedom to ask questions about dance and respond to work candidly. Dance in public space also changes a place forever. Most likely not visually, but the experience of an audience seeing dance in a public space leaves an imprint so when they return to the space something within them has changed.
Rachael: We are interested in bringing dance to people that might not necessarily go to a theater to see a performance, and that happens only when we bring the dance to them. Dancing in a public space that has a different primary use expands the viewers mind to new possibilities, and allows them to imagine what could be as opposed to only seeing what is.
EAA: Do you have to have dance experience to participate?
Morgan: All of our performances are open to viewers of all mobility levels! Except for Contemporary Practice, you do not need dance experience to participate in any of our classes. Storybook Dance Making is a fantastic class for families with children under the age of 10. We teach families how to create choreography offering a chance for parents to collaborate with their kids in a fun and fresh way. What The Fit?! is a movement-based fitness class that draws from Yoga, Pilates, Barre and Dance for all abilities. Contemporary Practice is a class for professional dancers that utilizes site and the body to improve personal technique and artistry.
Rachael: Our teaching artists are equipped to work with all ages, levels, and mobility levels so you’ll get the most out of your class.
EAA: What is the best way for people to find out how to work with you?
Morgan: Any way is the best way! We are pretty active on social media – @dancewaterloo – if you want to see in touch with what we are working on! Check out our website for upcoming classes and performances at dancewaterloo.org. If you have any questions feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EAA: Is there any other way to support your work?
Morgan: We love our patrons, board, and volunteers! Email us if you would like to volunteer for a class or performance or if you are interested in joining our Board of Directors. You can also make a tax-deductible donation at dancewaterloo.org. Thank you!
Rachael: Come to our next show in partnership with Waller Creek Conservancy! The show, VITAL, will take place at Symphony Square on October 24-27.