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The Dance Enthusiast Asks K.J. Holmes And Sondra Loring

The Dance Enthusiast Asks K.J. Holmes And Sondra Loring
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on November 30, 2011

As Movement Research's Fall Festival Celebrates 20 Years This Year, We Speak to the Curators.

The Dance Enthusiast Asks – K.J. Holmes and Sondra Loring

The Curators of Movement Research’s 20th Anniversary Fall Festival Talk about: beginnings, improv, choreography, presence, transformation, and all sorts of artsy things you discover after 20 years.

Christine Jowers: How did you both come to Movement Research?

K.J. Holmes: I went to a workshop in Vermont where I was turned on to different release techniques, contact improvisation and vocal improvisations.I was living in NY at the time and I was told that(Movement Research) was the place to go and take classes--that was in 1981. There were lots of teachers, understanding through language. Teaching gives us a chance to articulate, using words, to bring people into a non-verbal expression. There were people teaching theater, voice works—(teaching) ways to access different parts of themselves. This is what drew me. It wasn’t just a form I was wearing. I was pushing out into a mystery of dance.I was a student for many years then started teaching in 1986. I was artist in residence in 1991 or ’93,something like that.

Photos: K.J. Holmes by Enid Farber and Sondra Loring-by Anja Hitzenberger

C: When you have a long career, it’s hard to keep track.
K.J.: I think it’s like 30 years of this work, actually. So, 30 years with Movement Research. Right now, I am working as a performing artist with a choreographer where it is about setting material.(I am working on) how to bring the kind of trust in oneself that this (improv) work brings, to set material. How to bring a fullness of expression into something that is already designed.
C: What attracted you to Movement Research, Sondra?
Sondra Loring: The same things, really. In the dance world at that time (1985), exploring all kinds of classes and teachers and workshops and mixing choreography and improvisation together. Having a place as a young artist to have space and be able to have ideas and be supported. That’s what Movement Research does so beautifully.They support artists.



"Dance is such a beautiful thing. It keeps revealing parts of myself and myself in relation to the world-- back and forth. It is limitless…endless…very exciting and a little comforting, because I don’t have to worry that I am going to use it up. It’s always always there, as long as I show up."

-Sondra Loring.
C: Why “Devotion, Rigor, and Sustainability” as the theme for Movement Research’s Fall Festival?
K.J.: This is the first time we have curated something together and I am realizing that a skill of Sondra’s is condensing –being able to distill or condense something down into words like that- words that can really hold a shared idea.
S: and for me, I really need KJ there because I can’t have ideas unless I have anotherperson around.So, to me, it’s like the collective, of course, did it. But the words I had been working with in my own work, so now there’s a place to put them.
C: I noticed one of the festival workshops is dedicated to PRESENCE? What is presence to you?
S: Its mysterious for me. Although, there are definite paths into, and tools, skills –getting more skillful at being able to look inward and express and articulate what is occurring. And a lot of letting go. A lot of being present is being courageous and vulnerable, in that moment, and letting go.
K.J.: We are trying to be in a mystery, rather than showing, “There’s this answer and that’s what we’re trying to share." How do you live in a mystery and allow yourself to be present with what comes up in that?
C: It seems your sharing the questions? And living in them?
K.J.: Yah.

C:I notice another workshop is devoted to how the creator is changed by the creation. How has creation changed you?
S: To put it into a different discipline perhaps, when you are drawing as an artist on paper, the drawing starts to talk back to the pen in your hand -- and when you’re moving, your moving and the movement talks back to you. You are changed. You have to (be) if you are alive.There’s that beautiful point of transformation.
K.J.: It’s a big lesson in impermanence. We are looking to transform through some sense, realizing that nothing is fixed. Dance is a really amazing world to enter into to experience that. As much as we try to nail anything down, things are gonna change. 
And the Festival is 20 years of what people keep coming back to. What kind of energy do you need to shape this impermanent thing and why do we keep doing it? For me, it’s because I continue to find other parts of myself –what I do well, and what I don’t know.
S: Dance is such a beautiful thing. It keeps revealing parts of myself and myself in relation to the world-- back and forth. It is limitless…endless…very exciting and a little comforting, because I don’t have to worry that I am going to use it up. It’s always always there, as long as I show up.

C: What was the Festival like 20 years ago? What were you thinking about as you put it together for the first time? Do you remember?
S: Definitely. We wanted to have a place where improvisation could be celebrated. Twenty years ago it was a bit of a different landscape in the downtown dance world. There was a little more separation between choreographer and choreographed, and improvisation and improviser. A group of people wanted to come together and work together for short amount of time -a week or something- and then present what they did to the public.So we organized the venues and the way to do that and then it changed radically after the 1st year-- because of the giant egos that existed (laughing).People wanted to do their own work and have it be seen and not be like a group of 18 people trying to work together. That was very ambitious.
So, we held a town hall, where we asked, “What do you want from this festival?” That was very humbling. Then we created a festival where people could both work together in smaller groups, (we) threw some people together and, then allowed some to be individual and show their work as it was.
And Julie (Carr, the original founder with Sondra of the Movement Research Festival) and I often had the feeling that it was a free -wheeling circus. (Laughter) We really wanted it to be playful and we wanted to enjoy it …That was kind of the bottom line.
C: Enjoyment is important right?That’s what helps make work sustainable.
Today, do you feel that vast separation between the improvised and the choreographed?
S: I do not. I do not. Not in the world that I spin in.There’s just what works --is really the truth of it. People use things from improvisation, set material, borrow from theater and from music, and video, technology …It’s just open… much more than …
I love it.
K.J.: I am interested technology. I am catching up with a lot of it. I feel like I am always doing that catching up, picking up the pieces, which is why I like to do what I do: improvising, organizing chaos.
For Movement Research Fall Festival Info: November 28th,2011-December 4, 2011

Movement Research Fall Festival 2011- 20 Years - The Schedule-Workshops- Panel Discussions click here
To purchase performance tickets, click here


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