Mason dance professor and alumna comes full circle, works with School of Dance alumnae on new piece
February 23, 2017 / by Jamie Rogers
Karen Reedy’s life is all about circles:
The circular movements of her arms, legs and body across the many performance stages she’s graced as a professional dancer. Then coming full circle back to her alma mater, George Mason University, where she earned two degrees and now teaches the next generation of dance students.
Reedy has been working with three of her former students—Grace Ball, Megan Caputo and Madison Horwitz—now George Mason alumnae and professional dancers for Company Danzante, an Arlington-based contemporary dance company directed by alumna Katherine Horrigan who commissioned her to choreograph the piece, “From the Shadows.”
Reedy’s piece premieres at the Atlas Intersection Festival at the Atlas Theater in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Feb. 26.
“It’s really lovely to be able to interact with these dancers on a professional level. The work becomes more reciprocal; they are giving me something back,” she said. “The teacher in me is always wanting to help them grow and to nurture them.”
As students in Mason’s School of Dance, they were encouraged to develop their artistry by reaching outside boundaries and not just doing what they were told, said Caputo, BFA Dance ’13.
“I know that Karen has seen me grow and change so much, she’s seen what my weaknesses were and what my weakness may still be, but also where I have improved, so I feel like she has a better picture of who she’s working with,” Caputo said.
When dancers work with a choreographer they don’t know on a piece, it sometimes can take a few days to understand how that person works, so it was nice to dance with Reedy because they were familiar with her, said Horwitz, BFA Dance ’15.
Reedy earned a bachelor of fine arts in dance from Mason in 1995 at age 19 before moving to New York to pursue her professional career. She also served as a faculty member at the Juilliard School where she discovered her passion for educating pre-professional dancers. She returned to Mason 10 years ago and earned a master in fine arts in dance in 2009 and began teaching. She also is the founder and director of local professional company, Karen Reedy Dance, which Ball was a member of for about a year.
“How she moves, [what] she wants and what she expects were already there,” said Ball, BFA Dance ’13, of working with Reedy on “From the Shadows.” Ball said that allowed her to explore the artistry, meaning and character of the piece.
Reedy, who said she likes to choreograph pieces with texture, pattern and emotion, began work on “From the Shadows” in November.
“It’s an emotional reaction stemming from this turbulent time we’re in following the [presidential] election,” Reedy said of the six member, all-female cast piece.
Rather than being a political or a social statement, the work takes a journey from a place of fear and hiding, she added.
“A fear of the unknown, that’s what the shadows stand for, an uncertainty,” she said. “It moves through some emotions of sorrow and eventually it ends up gaining strength.”