Art Maker: Katherine Adler, dancer and choreographer

  • Dancer and choreographer Katherine Adler, seen here, above and below, at the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought in Northampton, also brings her work to immersive theater projects. STAFF PHOTOS/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Adler incorporates a light fixture as part of a dance.

  • Dancer and choreographer Katherine Adler, seen here at the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought in Northampton, also brings her work to immersive theater projects. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Adler performs in the immersive theater project “Deus Ex Machina” at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls in June 2018. Photo by Joe Dulude II/courtesy Katherine Adler

Published: 3/14/2019 3:16:35 PM

Northampton dancer and choreographer Katherine Adler likes to extend her work to other fields such as theater; she’s been part of immersive theater projects at the Emily Dickinson Museum and the Shea Theater, and her choreographic work has been supported by Eggtooth Productions of Greenfield. She’s also an instructor and an artist in residence at Northampton’s School for Contemporary Dance & Thought.

Adler, who began dancing when she was three, has a new project afoot next month that’s a bit different, but she says she welcomes the challenge: “A lot of my work is narratively based, so this is a little bit of a leap for me, but I’m excited about making structured improvisation the centerpiece of this work and curious to how it will evolve over time.” 

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you're currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Katherine Adler: It’s called “Artifacts of the Ephemeral,” which takes place in Turners Falls during the Radical Interconnectedness Festival April 26-27. I’ve been reshaping physical objects that have already been formed or affected by nature and will have a corresponding 30-hour performance, responding to meditations about our disconnect to wilderness, harnessing memory as inspiration for physical movement and utilizing paint and other tracing devices to activate the space. 

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

KA: I try to remain open to the influence of the rhythm and frequencies around me; from atmospheric temperature to my own heartbeat. Manipulation of collective memory is important to me, so I tend to become very engaged with the study of specific cultural zeitgeist.

HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

KA: I feel like it never is. Not to say that I don't care about structure and product. I try to remain very critical in my editing eye, but I believe the creative work is intrinsically linked to active process.

I have one piece based on the writings of Walt Whitman that I’ve shown in different iterations for about five years. Things morph, evolve, and adjust based on environment, audience response, the movement of the celestial bodies. 

HL: What do you do when you're stuck?

KA: I recognize that I am just a conduit, channeling something larger than myself in order to create connection between others. I spend a lot of time outdoors trying to feel small. That usually helps to push the Ego aside and gets me to the place where I can listen again to what the work needs from me.

HL: What's the most recent exhibition/concert/book reading/other event by another artist or group that you've attended and enjoyed?

KA: I had a unique opportunity to witness an entire week of rehearsals for choreographer Faye Driscoll’s “Thank You For Coming: Play” last summer at Jacob’s Pillow. Her work utilizes storytelling and navigates control of empathy within the performer/audience relationship.

I also have a yearly ritual of reading the novel “East” by Edith Pattou. It’s a re-telling of the Nordic tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” I’ve been reading it every November/December for the past 15 years, and it remains a huge influence in my life personally, creatively, and spiritually. 

HL: Do you listen to music while you're working? What kind? 

KA: I get really obsessive about music. Mostly I keep a couple of songs in rotation and listen to them for hours at a time. Currently: “Cuckoo!” by Benjamin Britten, “Suzanne,” covered by Nina Simone, “Myth” by Beach House, “Half Acre” by Hem. I also have an evening-length work set to Bob Dylan, so he dominates my playlists pretty often.

HL: Dream dinner party — who would you invite?

KA: Hannah Szenes, Harry Houdini, and Marcel Marceau. I've written a play about the three of them together.

— Steve Pfarrer

  

 




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