The University of Utah Department of Modern Dance Blog

Friday, December 12, 2014

Michael Crotty on dance in the academy.

Michael Crotty is a graduate student with the Department of Modern Dance. He studied dance and choreography at the Ohio State University and the Rotterdamse Dansacademie (NL), where he received his diploma. He has performed and shown his own work throughout the U.S., The Netherlands, and Belgium. His choreography has been featured on the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, including the opening of the BROAD Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA (LA County Museum of Art) and NowNext Capri In Las Vegas, NV.

In addition, Michael has been developing movement research in improvisation, and choreography by exploring how a heightened sense of awareness can allow movement vocabulary to be shaped by the environments performed in. He is inspired by the instant dynamics that are built with other dance artists and how these relationships influence the approaches to decision-making and performance styles.

Tell me more about your pre-professional training and dance career prior to coming here to study at the U.
I was at Ohio State University as a dancer, but not for very long. This was because the graduate coordinator of Rotterdam Conservatory came to Ohio State and she showed videos to introduce some of the dance students there to Western European contemporary dance. I saw a video of Netherlands Dance Theater and I completely fell in love with it. I fell in love with the form and the aesthetic. Two months later, I had gotten in. I then transferred to Codarts.

I started working as a stagiaire (which is an apprentice) with Jerome Meyer and Isabelle Chaffeuad who had a company that they ran as co-artistic directors, called “MCDance”. That really also changed my approach to training significantly. They were both from Netherlands Dance Theater and Batsheva Dance Company, so their style was a fusion and interpretation of those contrasts of classical sensibility and contemporary sensibility. I had to find a middle ground within their vocabulary.
I worked in Europe for a while with choreographers Vaclav Kunes, Machteld Van Bronkhorst (both in the Netherlands). I then reconnected with a choreographer, Kate Hutter, that I had met in 2001. I had become very interested in the work that she was creating in the States and she coincidentally was starting a company called the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company. When I was home visiting for the holidays, I went to LA to watch one of the rehearsals, which I really liked. I auditioned and was offered a fulltime position in the company from 2007 – 2014.

What drew you to this department at the University of Utah?
I was drawn to this department initially because of the geographical location. Ultimately, I wanted to be in an environment that was stimulating while offering me what I need creatively. I was drawn to Salt Lake City because it is beautiful. I wanted to be in an environment that inspired me outside of dance because I feel that it feeds my work in a very positive way.

What are some inspiring things you have seen thus far here in Salt Lake City?
I think the volume of dance here is very inspiring, as well as the diversity of the type of work that is being created. When I was in LA there were all these dancers from Salt Lake City who were so emotive and powerful. There is something about Salt Lake City that produces wonderful dancers. Salt Lake City feels up and coming. There is a lot of dance and a lot of things to see here. Just the fact that you can pick and choose each week what to see is a luxury.

What do you look forward to doing in these three years in the graduate dance program?
I would like to focus on creating theatrical and dynamic work. I am also interested in creating work that makes use of the interpersonal relationships that develop in the process. I am interested in how dancers grapple with material and how they interpret the material, which in turn shapes the final work. I looked at graduate school as some sort of test kitchen to play with the ideas relating to my work.

Interview by Allison Shir for the College of Fine Arts, edited by Jennie Nicholls-Smith.

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