Alex Ketley is an award winning choreographer, whose work has been performed internationally. He is the director of The Foundry, a contemporary company based in San Francisco. Formerly a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, he left the company in 1998 at the age of 24 to pursue his deepening interest in choreography, collaboration, mixed-media work, and to explore the multitude of possibilities inherent to the creation of performance. In addition to his life as a creator, he also teaches, most namely at Stanford University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. for more information visit: www.alexketley.com
AXIS: What inspires you to work with AXIS?
Alex Ketley: It has always been my belief that dance and performance should be accessible to everyone both in participation and as an audience. That the full breadth of humanity, and all its amazing diversity is what makes it beautiful. There are other parts of the dance ecosystem that have thoughts to the contrary, that dance is for certain body types only, and a narrower view on what constitutes beauty. When I first saw AXIS close to 15 years ago I was deeply moved. I felt like I was seeing something that really made sense to me.
Judy has also steered the company in the direction of AXIS not only being an integrated company but a company that strives to present excellent choreography. I appreciate the depth of investment in the form that I experience when I work with the company. That as artists and creators, we all wander into the swamp of really not knowing what the outcome will be with the hope something glorious might bubble to the surface if we just work really hard!
Congrats on your award for The Gift (of Impermanence) with the Artistry Award, what is the thing you want people to take away from this project?
One of the great joys I have, is to be able to watch dance very close in the rehearsal process. This is an experience that maybe the first row or two of an audience experiences in an intimate theater, but largely impossible to achieve in a full house. The body is filled with so much intimacy and intricacy, and a sensitivity that only being close offers a viewer. Working with the company with film, I realized I could give a broader audience this type of close vantage point, to really see the bodies, chairs, crutches - and all the beautiful expressiveness they constitute.
Also, for people who do not know the background on the project could you provide a brief summary.
Judy and I had initially talked many years ago, before I ever worked with AXIS, on me doing a film for the company. Unfortunately back then, other circumstances precluded that project coming to fruition. Luckily though, it was those initial conversations that led to me working with the company in other capacities throughout the years. So we decided to circle back around and try and get the film going again! The video has screened internationally, and gives AXIS the opportunity to be exposed to audiences without the complexity involved with touring.
Your piece at Home Season 2015 was especially powerful. How was it to work with so many talented folks on this one piece?
It was amazing and very complicated. Bobbi Jean Smith and Maurya Kerr are artist that I deeply admire. The initial idea was that we would all work together at the same time, but that was an overly ambitious dream relative to all our schedules. We had to work separately a lot, and luckily I feel like our aesthetic interests all collided in a way that makes the work feel cohesive. We will be working on the project more, to fine tune it a bit before it gets performed on tour, which I think will give the work even more weight.
What is your favorite thing to do on your free time?
I love solo backpacking. I love the solitude, and California has some of the most majestic mountains in the world. I've also been a lifelong rock climber, which to me is a type of movement meditation. And now, more than ever I love spending time with my wife and 8-month old daughter Amara. Being a father is a truly transformative adventure!