Lindsey Kelley Brewer is the artistic director of Lindsey Kelley Dance, a professional modern dance company based in Asheville, North Carolina. With the mission of providing artistic excellence in modern dance for the community of Asheville and beyond, Lindsey shares the successes and struggles she faces in making the wheels of Lindsey Kelly Dance turn.
What does your current dance practice look like?
My dance practice is a little funky at the moment. I am a fulltime dance teacher, so regular moving and grooving is plentiful. However, daytime adult dance classes are limited in Asheville, so it can be tricky to fit taking class into my schedule. Currently, I teach three adult morning classes, two modern and one ballet, in which I try to demonstrate and dance as much as possible throughout. Executing my own movement vocabulary for personal practice and keeping my dancing body in check is always a good thing. I am able to take ballet barre twice a week, which is vital to maintaining some technique. I hold rehearsals for my company twice weekly, both at local studios I teach for. I aim for performing monthly, but of course that varies throughout the year. LKD had its company season last March, plus performances in April, August, October and November. On top of company performances, I freelance various times during the year, rounding out an average of two to three performances per month. These performances consist of presenting work at dance festivals, performance and teaching residencies, and collaborations with other artists.
How do you fund your practice?
Funding comes from teaching and, more recently, grants. Teaching dance is my main source of income, which also serves as most of my dance company funding.
What are the benefits to working on your own (as opposed to working within a company or institution)?
I have always enjoyed creating my own work and have felt strongly about my independent artistic vision for some time now. Having my own dance company has provided me with opportunities to self-produce complete productions, which is absolutely a benefit. The work, the process, the product, and the performance are all in my own hands. I really love this fact and could not image having it any other way now. As a choreographer, I experience the freedom to create what I want, and that is a really wonderful feeling. It is empowering but, most importantly, it is a display of who I am and what I stand for as an artist. Throughout my dance education and career, I have worked with several companies and choreographers whose material was not an ideal fit. I am certain all dancers have experienced this at some point. Creating and performing mostly my own choreography ensures that I feel completely in my own dancing body and extremely connected to the material. It feels natural and honest, which I really enjoy.
What are the drawbacks?
Being in charge does have its downfalls. Remaining prompt, organized and being responsible for others is exhausting at times. Well worth it, of course, but exhausting. The financial aspect of running a dance company can be stressful too. As opposed to showing up, performing, and getting a paycheck, that happens more seldom with having my own company.
What do you find are the hardest obstacles to overcome in making your work?
I think that making sense of a piece and creating a through line for the work as a whole can be difficult sometimes. Movement always comes first for me; many times a concept follows the movement. I do like movement for movement’s sake, but when making work, an order must be obtained throughout the process to present something complete. Finalizing a piece can take some time and does not always come most natural to me. I guess one could say I like beginnings and middles; endings are tough. I think my movement vocabulary is becoming more and more fine-tuned, and I like the movement itself to be the strongest element in my choreography. I am picky about the way in which my movement is executed, which can be time-consuming during a rehearsal process. Setting work on dancers whose bodies respond naturally to the movement is always a plus and something I desire as a choreographer.
How do you personally measure success? When do you feel most successful?
Success to me is measured internally. It is a feeling I get every so often after a particular performance or after a really productive rehearsal. I do care a great deal about how others view my work, but I try not to let that be everything. I know that when I have succeeded, it is a clear feeling within. I feel most successful as a performer when I dance with honest intention. I feel most successful as a choreographer when the work feels well-rounded, my vision is strongly represented, and the dancers involved have had a positive experience. I feel most successful as a director when I have presented a cohesive production to my audiences and hopefully have provided a positive escape from life’s norm.
Lindsey Kelley Brewer is the founder and artistic director of the modern dance company Lindsey Kelley Dance, based in Asheville, NC. A Florida native, she began training with the Northwest Florida Ballet Company, and received a BFA in dance performance from the University of South Florida in 2007. While living in NYC, Lindsey performed with Contemporary Dance Theatre, Michiyo and Dancers, Naganuma Dance, The Human Institution, Steps on Broadway’s Repertory Ensemble, and presented work at Food for Thought/Danspace Project, PMT Dance Festival and Triskelion Arts Festival. Her choreography has also been presented at the American Dance Festival, Asheville Fringe Festival, Goucher College, Meredith College, North Carolina Dance Festival, ReHappening and the University of North Carolina Asheville. Lindsey has self-produced two evening-length LKD productions, “Legend of the Shim Sham” and “Ladle Weiss,” plus hosted a modern dance festival in Asheville last August. For more information, please visit lindseykelleydance.com.
Photo Credit: Natasha Meduri