Behind the doors of what appears to be a former residence outside Fountain Square is the Motus Dance Theatre. The modern dance company will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this week by showcasing 10 revamped pieces from past shows in Chemical Peel.
Katie Kasper founded Motus Dance Theatre in 2003. After graduating from Indiana University, Kasper moved back home to Indianapolis, where she found herself seeking an artistic outlet. Her original idea was to create one production to fulfill her art-making needs, but through that experience, Kasper met Heidi Keller-Philips, the current executive director of Motus. According to Kasper's blog, she never expected the dance theater to grow into the company it is today.
- Bryan Moore
- Motus core artists Brittany Wiseman and Stefanie Squint.
"Katie put on one show," explains Keller-Philips, "and she collected some dancers around her, and we just kind of didn't go away. We just said, 'What's next?'"
Ten years later and still going strong, Motus is different from other dance companies in the Indianapolis area, being administered by eight core artists rather than under the direction of one person. Each core artist has an administrative responsibility and choreographs pieces for the company's project productions.
Stefanie Squint, a core artist and director of operations, graduated from Ball State University with a degree in dance performance. Squint has danced with Motus for five years, after being with another company that just didn't fit her personality.
"I had researched dance companies in Indianapolis and I really liked how Motus worked, because it was a collaboration of different artists instead of under the direction of one single person," says Squint. "Everyone had a voice."
In the past 10 years, Motus has expanded its audience and foresees further growth, according to Squint. The dance company is currently looking for a bigger space to hold more classes and rehearsals.
- Bryan Moore
- Motus core artists Sara Little, Rachel Higgins, Vanessa Stowers- Flora, Stefanie Squint and Michelle Buchanan.
"I feel like we've had more shows and [grown the] number of classes we've offered," Squint says, explaining that Motus offers not only beginning and advanced level modern classes but the company also brings in fitness dance classes monthly such as Zumba and burlesque-inspired dancing.
In honor of making it to year 10, the core artists are putting together a show entitled Chemical Peel with the idea to give a face-lift to pieces from the company's past productions.
"We have a show from each year we've been around, and we are revamping them," explains Squint. "Each artist has a former dance and they are reworking it."
She explains that re-creating a new piece from an old one is challenging. For her dance, Squint is taking a piece from another core artist and adding more dancers into what used to be a solo. She says that she feels she is adding more dimension and depth to the piece by adding more dancers, even though the choreography was impactful in its original form.
"You're taking a piece that already works for the show it might have been a part of," Squint says. "It fits perfectly the way it's suppose to and you're changing it, but you still want to do it justice."
- Bryan Moore
- Motus core artists Ashley Benninghoff, Vanessa Stowers-Flora and Rachel Higgins.
Looking forward to the next decade, Keller-Philips envisions the company making a difference in the dance community. She hopes to break down competitive barriers and continue to create art.
"I would really like to see Motus play an instrumental role in bridging the gaps that have divided the dance community and bring organizations together," Keller-Philips says. "There's an undermined sense of competition that I want to get rid of. We can all exist in this city together. We're all different and we all have something we can bring to the table and make each other stronger."