As we are about to embark on our annual ODC/Dance Downtown at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, we are thrilled to share with you this close-up portrait of our newest company dancer, Katherine Wells.
Prior to joining the company last September, Katherine performed for over 10 years, working with the Colorado Ballet, Amy Seiwert and Robert Moses’ KIN among others. A highly versatile dancer, she morphs through varied intensities and textures with a mesmerizing integrity and fluidity. In a recent conversation during a rehearsal break, she mentioned that the essence of her investigation as an artist is “to get down to the distilled idea, or the base human emotion of a piece.” In any of the roles that she performs, she moves beyond technique and musicality, digging for the roots of a movement or an emotion, thereby accessing a captivating level of depth. Watching her perform, it is as if one was peeking into the vast landscape of her soul and the journey is both thrilling and enthralling.
Talking to Next Moves students last summer, Katherine shared what she looks for in a choreographer: “I always wants to work with someone who is going to provide a framework where I will have room to do my own work… Also someone who is going to challenge me and give me space to challenge myself.” Katherine recalls that on her first day with the company, dancers were given the task to create movements based on quotes by Ai Weiwei for the making of Brenda Way’s The Invention of Wings. This explorative process happened in silence and was a new way of working for her, as she had previously always relied on sound or a given movement phrase to create material. The challenge of navigating a wider avenue of creative possibilities led to self-discovery and new modes of making.
Beyond contributing to her growth as an artist, joining the company has given Katherine the stability of a steady income. When asked what the major learning experience has been in these past six months, Katherine promptly offers that the possibility to “cook herself dinner on any given evening or pay rent without stress” are novelties that she is still getting used to, after many years of freelance living as a professional dancer. As the burden of constant concern over material issues subsides, she now has time and space for what she does best: rehearsing in the studio and performing on stage.
We sincerely hope that you will enjoy watching Katherine perform as much as we do!