15 Anniversary Artist Interviews: Glade Dance Collective

The arc of childhood is often traced in art. Yet our progress in the “adult” world is fuzzier. What are the markers and milestones? Which ones actually matter?

In 2016, Glade Dance Collective devised a new piece that journeyed down this artistic road less traveled. In the program for the 2016 festival, the group promised Capital Fringe audiences that Am I There Yet? would “satirically look at contemporary rites of passage in a secular, diverse society.”

In an email crafted jointly by current Glade Dance Collective artists who participated in the show (including Lauren Borchard, Emma Dozier, Shauna Edson, Betsy Loikow, and Sarah Raker), they recall that “we had a big ongoing list of brainstormed potential dance topics that we occasionally drew from. Our 2015 Fringe piece, Mine/Field, also came from that list.”

The collective says that the initial topic for Am I There Yet? was “rites of passage.” As artists, they found a confluence of conceptual and personal energies in creating the piece.

“We wanted to explore the power that comes from them,” they remember. “At the same time, we had company members who were at various ‘stages’ of adulthood, some single, some recently married, some with children.”

The development process for Am I There Yet? took inspiration from the manifold possibilities. “We found a lot of inspiration in riffing on each of those stages of being a so-called adult,” the collective recalls. “In the development process, we ended up talking a lot about the verb ‘adulting,’ and what it means to different people and how it can change over the course of time. Ultimately, we developed a piece that explores the different milestones that people often expect they will meet during adulthood, and what it means when we do – or do not – meet those expectations.”

Glade Dance Collective developed Am I There Yet? specifically for Fringe. “We had a really fantastic experience at Fringe the year before (with Mine/Field) and knew we wanted to create another evening-length piece,” they write, “so it felt like the right venue for us. As dancers, it is rare to have so many performances in one run of a show, which makes Fringe especially appealing for us. We are also all based in and around the District, and really love how the Festival supports local artists and provides a platform for such a wide variety of art and performers.”

The collective performed Am I There Yet? in Gallaudet University’s Elstad Auditorium. “It was a larger theater than we typically perform in! However, it suited this piece nicely given that we had a pretty large cast and the staging was fairly theatrical, with lots of scenes, costume changes, and props,” they write. “It was really helpful to have wings and be able to cross over from different sides of the stage.”

 

Glade artists also tried to maximize audience engagement. “We talked a lot about what our audience engagement would look like in the space,” they recall, “given how separate the stage is from the audience. We ultimately decided to do most of our engagement before the show, as audience members came into the space.” The welcome included collective members quizzing attendees about their own adulting milestones and handing out stickers for selected achievements – such as a job, house, partner, or baby.

“Based on the number of stickers they had,” the collective continues, “we would allow them into the theater at different times. This was also helpful because it gave us the chance to encourage folks to sit closer to the stage. We are so used to performing in intimate spaces, and enjoy having our audience get up close and personal with our work.”

Glade Dance Collective played at Minnesota Fringe in 2017, and they returned to Capital Fringe in 2019 with Oizys in the Waiting Room. “Our experience at Fringe has continually encouraged us to create new work,” they observe. “We often use Fringe as a goal to work towards every year or two as provides a great venue for evening-length work. We really love the Capital Fringe community, from the year-round staff to the theater managers, the other artists, and the audience members. Being at Fringe always feels like home.”

– Richard Byrne

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