Who We Are, and Why It’s So Important for the Dance World
By: Katherine Mann, Founding & Executive Director
Exhalations Dance Theatre (EDT) is not your typical dance company; and I truly don’t mean that as a cliché. We are not a group of professional dancers who work daily in classes and rehearsals with the sole purpose of bettering our dance careers; and we aren’t vying for roles in Swan Lake or Don Q.
In fact, half of us didn’t even go to school for dance; we are a wonderful mix of dancers with a variety of backgrounds who come together to form a very unique dance company that creates very professional-looking performances.
EDT is a place where dancers who have trained their entire lives to dance, but then end up choosing a different career or path separate from professional dance performance, are able to come together to put on full scale dance productions. We consider ourselves “non-professionals.” (Think something along the lines of amateur theater!) EDT dancers have careers ranging anywhere from healthcare providers, to agency marketing, to teaching, and even have some students from local universities reaching out for a dance community to belong to.
1. DANCE COMMUNITY Because that’s the thing, isn’t it? When you stop dancing in a studio or company, besides dance itself, what you miss the most are your dance friends, right? We’re fortunate that EDT is able to provide a warm and non-competitive environment where dancers can feel welcome and find their “dance friends.” Growing up my dance friends were always my truest friends. This hasn’t changed; even into adulthood.
2. OVERALL HAPPINESS Dancers train for SO many years. So much discipline and so much hard work, then one day you graduate or you don’t make the cut in the big audition you were hoping for and it all just-ends. Its not a great feeling. I remember that feeling. The main reason EDT was founded in the first place was truly to create happiness and dance opportunities for dancers who wouldn’t otherwise have them. To continue that feeling of purpose, and to allow dancers to know its ok to keep doing what you love, even if its no longer the CENTER of your universe.
3. DANCER EMPOWERMENT One of the biggest reasons I feel EDT is important and I hope it continues to thrive: I don’t want to live in a world where I am told I must be either a pharmacist or a dancer. I want to be both. I want everyone to be both of whatever they desire. I want every girl (or boy) to feel empowered to be what she or he wants to be. To squeeze every last bit of happiness, or fun, or moment out of their life. I don’t want a young dancer to feel trapped in a box being told they have to choose between science and dance. I didn’t, and they shouldn’t have to either.
4. OVERALL HEALTH Being in EDT is honestly just good for us. Its GREAT exercise. We usually even have to cross-train during shows because our pieces are extensive, and we aren’t in the studio daily like a professional dancer would be. It helps everyone stay in dancing shape!
5. SHARING OUR EXPERIENCES Having the opportunity to continue to dance and choreograph allows us to share our point of view with our audiences. Choreographers desire for an audience to feel the emotion they were feeling at the time of the inspired work, and working with dancers with a wider range of life experiences can be really inspiring and positive for choreographers and other dancers.
Exhalations Dance Theatre hopes to break down the barrier between “dancer” and “non-dancer” and inspire artists of all ages to never give up on their dreams. This is why we are important to not only the dance community, but to all art communities; and this is why our message should be heard.