Choreographer Amy Seiwert Shares What Inspires Her
Amy Seiwert is an important voice for contemporary ballet. Since 1999, her company Amy Seiwert's Imagery has been showing San Francisco audiences just how experimental, passionate, and relevant ballet can be. It's a philosophy Seiwert developed over 19 years dancing with the LA Chamber Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Smuin Ballet, and while choreographing on major companies like New York City Ballet (for the New York Choreographic Institute). Next year, Seiwert will become the artistic director of Sacramento Ballet. Catch AXIS Dance Company performing Seiwert's Reflective Surface in October in Oakland, CA—and read on to learn how Seiwert keeps thinking of new ways to look at ballet. —Helen Rolfe
For seven years now, I've worked with my company in a space called Zaccho that's primarily used for aerial dance, so it's got high ceilings, natural light, and enough space that you can be far enough from the dancers to get a sense of the work. There's a fun rumor that the building used to be a mattress factory, and that the Zaccho space is where they made the pillows! It's one of my favorite places to create in the city.
(From top, left to right) Steffi Cheong, Brett Conway, Seiwart, and director Brian Staufenbiel in rehearsal for "Les Enfants Terribles" (photo by Nick Korkos, courtesy Seiwart)
Last May, I choreographed Philip Glass' opera Les Enfants Terribles with the company Opera Parallèle here in San Francisco, where I was lucky to work with a phenomenal dancer I've known a long time, Brett Conway. I first worked with Brett when he was about 18, before he danced for LINES Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. He has developed beautifully into a thinking artist.
Conway and Cheong in "Les Enfants Terribles" (photo by Steve Dibartolomeo, courtesy Opera Parallele)
My husband plays the trumpet professionally. He's exposed me to a lot of music that I never knew, like the experimental composer Morton Feldman, and minimalist composers like Terry Riley.
Seiwert takes in the view on a hike (courtesy Seiwert)
I love nature and being outside. Last summer, I would go for 7-mile hikes in the Sierras while listening to the music for my first full-length work, Wandering, on repeat. The piece was to Franz Schubert's Winterreise, gorgeous leider music that explores loss. I fell in love with that kind of music a couple years ago, via fellow choreographer KT Nelson. When I'm staring at redwoods or looking at the ocean, I feel very connected to the earth, to humanity, to everything.
"Wandering" rehearsal (photo by David Desilva, courtesy Seiwert)
A version of this story appeared in the September 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Choreographer's Collage: Amy Seiwert."
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
If you've ever seen a Janelle Ginestra class video, you know how lit her combos are. What you don't see in those clips is how devoted Ginestra is to her students. We went behind the scenes at one of her sold-out IMMA SPACE classes to see Ginestra in her element, mentoring some of L.A.'s most talented dancers. It was an inspiration feedback loop.
All photos by Joe Toreno.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I love ballet, and I've been told that I have a lot of potential. I can see myself dancing professionally one day. But I'm also working toward my black belt in karate—and I'm passionate about that, too. How can I keep up my technique while also making time for the other things I love? Is that even possible?
What do you get when you combine a Beyoncé anthem, fierce girls from all over the world, and choreography by legends like Ellenore Scott and Lamar Lee? You get the epic music video below. The viral video features little girls who live everywhere from Tanzania to Washington D.C. dancing and lip-syncing to Queen Bey's song "Freedom," and the result is electrifying. These littles can dance—and they bring a determination and enthusiasm to their movement that's truly inspiring.