2014 Lab Artist: Alex Ketley
Alex Ketley is a freelance choreographer, teacher, and the director of The Foundry, a contemporary dance company based in San Francisco. Formerly a classical dancer with the San Francisco Ballet (1994-1998), he performed a wide range of classical and contemporary repertory including the work of William Forsythe, James Kudelka, and George Balanchine in San Francisco and on tour throughout the world. In 1998 he left the San Francisco Ballet to co-found The Foundry in order to explore his deepening interests in choreography, improvisation, mixed media work, and collaborative process. The Foundry has produced fifteen full evening-length works that have received extensive support from the public, funders and the press, as well as a number of single-channel video pieces that have screened at international video festivals.
Ketley’s 2012 No Hero project took him and a dancer from his company through rural parts of the West to explore what social dance and concert dance meant to people. They met with strangers in RV parks, small restaurants and their homes, videotaping discussions about the role of dance in their lives; in return for these disclosures, Ketley and his colleague danced small impromptu performances. This series of surprisingly profound and moving exchanges culminated in a dance film that juxtaposed the interviews with the performances danced for people in living rooms, social halls and outdoors. You can watch excerpts from this dance film HERE.
In August 2014, Ketley embarked on a five-week residency with VPL where the aim was for this choreographer to become acquainted with small rural communities in Southern Vermont and their dance cultures. By connecting with a variety of community organizations and social dance groups, VPL hoped to get a deep look at the small towns’ social, cultural and agrarian life.
This VPL residency is made possible with support from the Vermont Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and VPL’s Creation Fund donors.
Interview with Alex Ketley
VPL: Tell us a little about yourself and your relationship to dance.
Alex: I started dancing when I was 7 years old and have been deeply engaged in the form for 34 years. Dancing is the way I interface and understand the world. And I feel very fortunate, that I have been able to investigate dance in such a wide range of ways, from dancing for a world renown ballet company, many contemporary companies, developing my own choreography, and teaching extensively. Dance is quite beautiful, and multifaceted in how people apply it as an art form and enjoy it, so I feel lucky to engage it on a daily basis.