It's time once again to catch up with one of the Against the Odds Artists! This time Monkeyhouse's Caitlin Meehan is chatting with Six One Seven Dance Collective's Lacey Sasso. (Lacey has a birthday this month, so be sure to wish her a good one if you see her!)
C: Do you have a favorite dance form, or a favorite choreographer?
L: My favorite dance genre is jazz. I started taking classes in this form when I was only 5 years old and have always loved the sassy, playful nature of the movement. In more recent years, I have come to mix my favorite jazz elements such as isolations and battements with quirkier gestural based movements. In most circles, this form is called contemporary, but in my world, I just think of it as my movement voice. I am inspired by Trisha Brown, Jose Limon, and Gus Giordano to name a few.
C: I also come from a jazz background! I know that you studied Dance at Missouri State University- can you tell me more about Inertia Dance Company there?
L: Inertia Dance Company is a troupe of dancers from the BFA program that travel to local elementary schools using dance as a vehicle to promote literacy and imaginative movement. Each season, the company chooses a children's story to use as a basis for each performance. The dancers use modern dance and creative movement to bring the story to life. The students participate in group work previous to the performance, and are given roles to act out during the show. For example, one year, my students were suitcases. We created an entire suitcase dance with our group and then performed it within the show. It gets the children involved and expands their minds. Inertia also organized lecture/demonstrations in which the students would have a chance to learn basic steps in ballet, jazz, modern, and tap dance. I was a member for all 4 years I was in school, and a senior rehearsal director my last 2 seasons.
C: Cool! What was your favorite part about working with them?
L: My favorite part about being in the company was seeing the joy on the childrens' faces. For the most part, the children we worked with had no dance experience, so it was exciting to see them moving and creating for the first time.
C: You were a Psychology minor in college- do you think that this influences your choreography, or the way you look at choreography in general?
L: Psychology plays a large role in my life as a dancer and choreographer. I use choreography as an outlet for many things that are often difficult to talk about. I often ask myself the question "why" when I am looking at work. I have found that this leads to a lot of insightful reflection as well as a plethora of choreographic ideas.
C: Since graduating, you have moved to New York and presented some of your own work. Could you describe some of your choreography?
L: My choreography is quirky, sassy, expressive, and deeply personal. Much of my work comes directly from my personal experiences, often reflecting upon a personal relationship that has had a large impact on my life whether that be romantic, familial or other. For instance, my contribution to "Accidental Trifecta" is a solo that was originally choreographed to help me take the first step towards my future after losing my first love. The concept is about moving on and letting go of the past, a concept that I feel all people can relate to, but the details of the story are quite personal. I strive to create work that is honest and interesting, but also relatable. I use a mixture of popular music and abstract artists, written word, photographs, and more recently the experiences and stories of my dancers. It goes back to my background in psychology; talking about shared experiences is often the best way to process them. My chosen form of communication happens to be movement. I hope that when people see my work they see something honest and something just a touch sassy.
C: I understand that you split your time between Boston and New York, which must be a challenge! Which companies in which cities?
L: Yes, I spend quite a lot of time on trains and buses, but it's been an unbelievable experience. I have been working with Undertoe Dance Project in New York City for 5 seasons. UDP is a jazz and tap fusion repertoire company, which means that the majority of the work contains both genres complimenting one another to create an overall experience and a very unique voice. I have been blessed to be the jazz captain for 4 seasons and have spent this year mainly based in Boston, trying to expand the company's presence in the northeast. The company is a wonderful group of women who are passionate about these often underrepresented dance forms. I have had the pleasure of choreographing for the company on several occasions and hope to continue my work with UDP in the future.
My work in Boston feels like it is just beginning, though I have been in the community for 3 years now. I teach full time at two local studios, and spend my weekends working with Six One Seven Dance Collective. This is my 3rd season as a company member and my 2nd season as a featured choreographer. Six One Seven is a modern based company that creates work inspired by important concepts in life such as the beauty industry and the many meanings of home. This group of women allows me to explore my roots as a modern dancer and to continue to work collaboratively in the dance community. It is a joy to be a part of such wonderful dance companies and to have the privilege of exploring the many sides of my love of dance and movement in general.
C: What led you to Six One Seven Dance Collective?
L: I was first interested in Six One Seven Dance Collective because of its collaborative nature. I love to be involved in the process of creation. I was interested in exploring myself as a choreographer and having an opportunity to work with a variety of movement styles and voices. Each season is a new adventure. Working collaboratively rather than in a repertory company has been quite a valuable experience. I feel that we are always creating new ideas and new works, which is quite a lovely and often crazy process. The company is comprised of great people, who are now great friends of mine. I love knowing that rehearsal is work, but it is also a time to spend with friends and share my life with dancers through our work and our laughter.
C: I have to agree about the collaborative process! Monkeyhouse creates quite a bit of work that way. Looking forward to seeing you perform- thanks for sharing your history and inspirations!
Do you have a question for Lacey that Caitlin didn't ask? Well then, why don't you ask her here!? All of the Against the Odds artists and everyone at Monkeyhouse wants to know what YOU are thinking, so let's keep the conversation going!