Ashley Anderson, founder of loveDANCEmore, shares insight into her process and her vision for SLC.
– loveDANCEmore is a unique name – tell us what it means?
My nonprofit is incorporated as Ashley Anderson Dances so that regardless of what community programs I organize, I can still share my own choreography. However, the organization also has a community events branch called loveDANCEmore, which has presented performance series, published a performance journal, and many additional projects since 2010.
Although I’ve been making dances for a decade with different performers in Philadelphia, Virginia, New York, and now Utah, I knew that to make a traditional company exclusively for my own work would be unproductive. I relocated to Salt Lake without ties to university dance departments or historic companies, so I needed to support my peers before asking them attend my own concerts.
This unique structure means that I can produce my own shows, but also focus on supporting independent projects. Because loveDANCEmore can also act as a fiscal sponsor, the organization has presented hundreds of individual concerts by equally high numbers of artists and collaborators.
In today’s arts economy, endowments are scarce and shared community spaces like the Rose Wagner are often full with resident artists with little to no turnover. The loveDANCEmore model allows artists additional opportunities to stay engaged.
– What is your overall mission and/or statement with your work? // – What inspires your work?
My work involves nostalgia, much of which is determined by the physical objects that interest me (record players, slide reels, comb & paper kazoos), but is also determined by the medium of dance—something that by its nature passes without appropriate documentation for the experience. Nostalgia generates interest in the concept of physically inserting myself into the history of people I don’t know. In my work, this has meant dancing to their workout records, dancing inside their family vacation slideshows, replicating their childhood songs and fracturing their narratives through a combination of physical momentum and precise visual design.
I was trained for concert dance. I was taught that choreography was meant to happen on a stage before a large audience. But, I learned later that this scenario was frequently impossible—even for established artists. I search for new contexts to share performance, and not those mediated by new technologies. Rather, I imagine returning to live performance as a gathering not dissimilar from a family slideshow. Something that is intimate yet intricately visual.
– How does downtown SLC inspire and inform your work?
Before I had children, I would walk around downtown and imagine all the venues that could/should be filled with dance. That’s how one of loveDANCEmore’s first series, Mudson, found its home at the Masonic Temple. It’s also how I came to work with the Ladies’ Literary Club, the SLC Public Library, the Memorial House and on the grounds of the Utah State Capitol. Other local
artists have picked up where I left off, with collaborator Liz Ivkovich utilizing the Jordan River, and Municipal Ballet Co. taking on the State Room and McCune Mansion (two of my dream sites!).
Also, it’s no secret that Utah, and Salt Lake in particular, have a love for the arts which is party fueled by the Mormon Church historically promoting the arts. This means that unlike in other cities, here in Salt Lake I can often find “day jobs” linked to art-making, specifically in arts education, that allow me to continue doing my work.
– What is your vision for downtown SLC in 2 years? 20 years?
No matter the timeframe, I would like for Salt Lake City to better recognize its changing artistic landscape and fuel opportunities for both individual artists and traditional non-profit corporations to leverage. I would also like for historic spaces to be more accessible, exploring interim leases or university partnerships, so that art-making can be a feasible pursuit balanced against the costs of city living.
– What dream venue would you love to activate downtown?
I would love the city or county to identify spaces—mansions, churches and meeting houses—that are no longer used for their intended purposes, and work to develop dedicated spaces for artistic expression. Just as NYU bought Judson Church to keep the space’s ability to showcase the arts, this could also happen in conjunction with Westminster, SLCC or the University of Utah in favor of creating new buildings.
– What’s next for you? Where can we see your upcoming works?
I have been working on the piece witch dance, which was first presented at the McCune Mansion. The piece, originally presented with a cast of six female dancers, now includes over 30 women from across the Wasatch Front who know the piece. The larger group was set to perform in Reservoir Park last fall, but due to uncooperative weather, the dance is still in progress and will be presented with a new goal of 50 intergenerational female performers.