Tell us a bit about yourself and your (dance) background:
I grew up in a beautiful but tiny town in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains called Bridgeport. The only dance class was an hour drive to another small town in Nevada called Smith Valley, where my mother dutifully took me every Saturday morning for tap, ballet and jazz class. My interest in “practicing” started to wane when I was in Jr. High. My mom threatened to stop taking me to class when I received an award for a free year of dance lessons and a trip to Las Vegas to participate in one of those Tremaine Dance Conventions. After that I started traveling even further for class, 2 hours to Reno, NV once a week to take ballet at the Nevada Ballet Theater. I went on to get a BFA in Dance and BA in English from Santa Clara University and an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Although dance training is less a part of my life now, I do try to take an occasional class. And I remain passionate about dance. I’m constantly amazed at dance’s ability as an art form to inform, to create community, and to bridge barriers through purely physical movement.
How did you first hear about AXIS?
I heard about AXIS from my good friend and fellow Tisch alumni Alisa Rasera. She had moved back from New York to California after graduation with the goal of joining AXIS. And she did as a dancer and then the Education Director for 8 years. We had the pleasure of working together for 5 of those years.
Tell us an AXIS story:
Oh there are LOTS of AXIS stories. I was lucky enough to tour with them to Burlington, VT and to Chicago in 2004/2005. Both were really fun tours. Before Chicago the dancers who’d already arrived told me to pack shorts and sandals because it was super warm. I arrived to Chicago and it was snowing, in April! So I trudged around the streets of Chicago freezing to death. Seeing AXIS perform and seeing how audiences respond is such a wonderful highlight of my job. In audience applause, you can hear the narrative in their head of “wow I’m blown away. That was amazing dance. I never imagined…” And that makes me proud. It makes all that behind the scenes work so worthwhile.
Tell us your funniest AXIS moment:
Many of my funny AXIS moments have to do with “stuff Judy says” for some reason. She’s a very funny lady. But one memory I have has to do with a letter we received in the mail early on in my job. The letter was from an older man to Judy. He’d written a country western song called “Wheelchair Woman” that was really very catchy. He said he wanted us to choreograph a dance to it. I made up a tune and would sing the song out in the office occasionally. Sadly, no one ever actually choreographed a dance to the song. But I was sitting in on an AXIS rehearsal one day and choreographer Victoria Marks put me on the spot and asked me to sing it in front of everyone. We were all cracking up at my corny rendition.
What do you love about AXIS?
I love the way AXIS is changing the dance world and challenging all of those archaic body image and ability rules that I was all too keenly aware of in my own dance training into my mid-twenties even. I love that they’ve challenged notable choreographers to the point of those choreographers creating some of their most amazing work. And I love seeing the company transform and change depending on the individual dancers, their abilities and various assistive equipment, the choreographers they work with so that there is ALWAYS something new and exciting to look forward to. I like being surprised and AXIS never fails.
What do you enjoy about your current role as Development Manager with AXIS?
Getting to interact with everyone who loves AXIS and introducing new people to the Company. Gaining support in the way of grants, donations, touring engagements. All of it is gratifying to me.
How has working for AXIS required you to grow?
10 years is a long time and I think I’ve grown in every possible way there is to grow here. I even got married and had a baby during that time, so my family grew. Work wise it’s just been a wild ride. I’ve grown as a communicator, negotiator, sales person, fundraiser, grant writer, accountant, database designer, project manager, volunteer coordinator, office manager, IT person. You name it, I’ve done it at this job. AXIS has always required me to grow my openness and willingness to learn something new and tackle it with gusto, every day.
What are you dreaming up next for AXIS?
Anything is possible with this Company. I’ve learned that much. I’m looking forward to celebrating our 25th Anniversary and we’ll see what other wonderful opportunities come our way.