Time in the (LEIMAY) Studio with...

Kate Ladenheim

LEIMAY Studio Manager Lou Mandolini in conversation with LEIMAY Fellow Kate Ladenheim. Kate is a choreographer, producer, curator, and all around great human. 

  • LOU- As a returning Fellow, 3 years and counting, what are you working on this year in the LEIMAY Studio?

KATE- I'm working on two things: 
1. Glass
Glass is a big project that has three major expressions: a 5-part film series, a film and performance installation, and a live performance. The piece is about glass ceilings, and what happens to women when they're underneath one. We dive into systemic issues that put pressure on women to look and behave certain ways. We use these patriarchal stereotypes to investigate how we internalize patriarchy and enforce it in our own behavior and in the behavior of other women. We do a lot of nail painting, figure out how to navigate complex movement patterns in hoop skirts, and work on stuffing our feelings and reactions; all of this reflects how my collaborators and I move through the world and have often been treated in personal and professional situations.
2. Oh, Celine! 
Oh, Celine is a new piece I've just started working on with co-creator Cecilia Lynn-Jacobs. At the core of Oh, Celine is a 4-part mockumentary of dance artist Celine and her falling out with a brand in their sponsorship of her newest performance. The brand hires an agency to help them save face for a recent, very public PR fail; the agency pulls in Celine to demonstrate this brand’s social consciousness and support of up and coming, underground artists. It soon becomes apparent that this relationship between Celine and the brand is not going to work out; Celine sees through the brand’s absurd antics and the brand becomes equally frustrated with her working style and displays of divadom. However, Celine still finds it important, nay essential, to tell her story, publicly. Right now we're storyboarding, playing with some movement ideas, and talking a lot about power structures and where artists fit into those, both commercially and in arts circles.  

  • Wow, that sounds like a lot of work! How do weekly rehearsals at CAVE bolster your creative process?

Lol. Yes, yes it is a lot of work. Clearly, my works are interdisciplinary, but the bottom line is that I haven't yet figured out how to make dances without space to noodle around in. So time at LEIMAY is pretty essential to my process. 

  • You were selected by Dance Magazine in their annual "25 to Watch" feature for 2018 (CONGRATS)... how did it feel to be recognized by a major dance publication? 

Thank you! I am very excited and really honored to be counted among the other artists in this year's list. I'm grateful especially to Sydney Skybetter, who authored my blurb and who believed in my weird, intersectional, and hyper-intellectual ideas well before they were any good.I'm especially excited to be featured as a non-conventional dance artist; that I do so many different kinds of work in and around dance has sometimes made me feel insecure about being unfocused, or less of an [____]. It's nice to know that people are starting to recognize careers like mine as careers of merit.

  • Your newest creation Glass will have its "live" premiere at Triskelion Arts in April. Can you discuss creating a work that exists in many forms? (film, installation, proscenium stage)?

Each version allows the work to maintain it's thematic frame, but have a different point of entry for impact; basically allows me to meet different audiences where they are at different points in time. The film allows for commentary and viewing on phones and home computers and portable screens; the installation features an intimate and interactive experience between audience and performer, and makes those power dynamics really palpable; the live version emphasizes the tension and minutiae in the relationships between the performers.
I'm also fascinated by the way that social media and internet culture have changed our lives and our systems of commentary; which is why I think deeply about how art can live in digital spaces. People are consuming a lot of art online these days - and a lot of our aesthetic preferences are being fed back to us through targeting and data collection. It's a lot to chew on ethically and artistically. 
  • Due to a decline in national funding for the arts, many young artists rely on crowd-funding to sustain their artistic vision. The People Movers recently joined Patreon, how's it going? Any advice for early-career artists on how stay out of the "red"?

It's going pretty darn well! We have 20 very generous supporters who are giving us $300/month; essentially, we've paid for space at LEIMAY! Our next goal is $500/year, our ultimate goal for 2018 is $1000/year. For context, my company operates at about 35k/year, with campaigns like Patreon supplemented by private and grant-based support. I'm excited to see how our Patreon grows into a system of support that can help us spend more time creating and making things for the community that gives to us. All I want is to be able to take full advantage of the opportunities we have, pay people fairly, and give more back to our audience. 
In terms of advice? Respect your financial limitations. Don't get over-excited about opportunities that will suck you dry. It's a great way to get burned out (I know because I've been there) and doesn't do a lot to build trust with your audience and collaborators. 
  • Kate, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me! The LEIMAY Team is thrilled to see how much your work has changed over the past three years. We look forward sharing the studio with you in 2018.

Enjoy Glass: Part II by The People Movers 

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