Kate Speer: dancer, choreographer, writer

"the notion that experimentation would undermine 'tradition' is a misconception. The experiment we pass on today will become the 'tradition' of tomorrow."
Danny Yung

I am a dance artist who relishes a good beat that sends my sweaty, exhausted body into motion, who choreographs huge landscapes that crescendo into mountains and dissolve into streams, and who writes in order to open my mind to the body's subtle, hidden meanings.

Within the discipline of dance, I identify as a scholartist, a term that evokes a synthesis of choreography, performance, and scholarship. As a choreographer, I live at the intersection of social activism and artistic production by merging theatrical storytelling with athletic, momentum-based movement in order to engage the audience’s visceral and emotional capacities.

A Maine girl at heart, I frequently attend Bates Dance Festival to get my dance fix. Often self-producing in DIY spaces, my choreography has been supported by the Puffin Foundation and the Community Education Center's New Edge Artist Mix Series (PA), and has been presented in Boulder International Fringe Festival (CO), Philly Fringe (PA), ETC Performance Series (PA), and FAB Dance Showcase (ME). Always seeking collaborative performance projects, I have had the pleasure to perform in work by Gesel Mason Performance Projects, Nathan Blackwell, Raja Feather Kelly, Tania Isaac, Patrick Mueller, and Willi Dorner. Currently a Resident Artist at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Speer has had residencies at PlatteForum (CO), Middlebury College (VT), Swarthmore College (PA), and Mascher Space Cooperative (PA), all of which emphasize community engagement that is inherent in her dancemaking. My movement technique is an eclectic mix of athletic, momentum-based movement studied under Gesel Mason, David Dorfman, and Kathleen Hermesdorf, and most recently, Piso Móvil and Continuum techniques studied under Omar Carrum and Claudia Lavista.

In addition to my choreography and performance work, I have presented research at UCLA’s Dance Under Construction Conference, the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS) and the Congress on Research and Dance (CORD). I hold an MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado Boulder and a BA in Dance and Biology from Swarthmore College.

Two experiences that have deeply influenced my dancing body and research interests are my studies in Madagascar and France. In 2006, I travelled in Madagascar where my host sister Pela Larissa Octavie Rasoloarisoa taught me the intricacies of the social dance the Mangaliba in the port town, Fort Dauphin. Then in 2007, I interned at the Centre Chorégraphique National (CCN) in Belfort, France where I became familiar with the choreographic style of the late French choreographer Odile Duboc, then director of the CCN.

While based in Philadelphia in 2008-2011, I was an artist-in-residence at Mascher Space Cooperative and a member of Philly Contact Collective. Building community, whether with dancers in the studio, between the audience and the performer, or within neighborhoods, is an important aspect of my work. At Mascher Space Cooperative, I built a relationship with the students of Moffet Elementary School, located just across the street from our rehearsal/performance/studio. We hosted grades K-3rd for two residencies, The Walrus and the Camel (2010) and my Generation (2011), which successfully bridged the gap between downtown art makers and the local residential community.