For today’s Choreographer’s Corner, we get to feature SDDT company member Matt Carney. Matt is a ball of sunshine whenever he walks into the room, so finding out more about him has been a real treat for us. He is a beautiful dancer, as well as person, and we are very excited to see what he brings to the competition. It will probably be just as fabulous as he is. Here is what Matt has to say:
Q: Tell us a little bit about your history in Dance.
Photo by Bryan Ketron
A: I start dancing ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and polka dance at the age of three at Dolly Dinkles School of Dance in the ’80’s. I wish!! I was a late bloomer when it came to dance and never heard the words…tendue, plie, Graham, or Balanchine until my 20’s. I was always drawn to performing and grew up singing and acting. The closest thing I did to dancing was Swing Choir in Junior High…imagine me awkward, gay, and wearing a red sequins bow tie and cumber bun performing for the whole school. I loved it, but not sure if the two step and jazz hands really counts as my true dance beginning. I took my first official dance class at a Community Arts Schools in St. Louis, MO when I was 20. It was an adult modern class. I remember the first day when the teacher asked about our dance experience and I said honestly and truthfully, “Does dancing at the club count?” HA! But, I fell in love with the class and the dance and before you knew it I withdrew from all of my university classes and pursued dance as much as possible while supporting myself and figuring life out. One thing I know is that I have been truly blessed with the teachers that have entered my life. My first teacher Cecil Slaughter came from a long legacy of dance luminaries and immediately instilled an appreciation for dance history and how the art is passed from one generation to the next while hearing his stories about Eleo Pomare, James Truitte, and Donald McKayle to name a few. It seems that one thing leads to the next and Cecil happened to also teach jazz and modern at a ballet studio. As most studios lack a strong male presence the director of the school offered me free classes if I agreed to perform in their Ballets. Yes! I thought I was the luckiest kid on the block…or man I guess! Soon I humbly began my dance training among 12 year old girl ‘trinas that were dancing circles around me as I was figuring out my derriere from my port da bras. Well, that’s my beginning, you can check my bio to see where I went from there! :)
Photo by Graham Blair
Q: Why do you believe your work should win this competition?
A: It seems a bit weird to create art for a competition. What is a winning dance? Does it please the choreographer, dancers, or the audience? I am hoping for a little of all of the above. I am absolutely inspired by dancers and their living essence while performing. I am honored to work with this cast of dancers that are not afraid to be themselves even under the scope of an audience. So, no matter if I win the competition, I’ve already won. I just hope you enjoy a piece that lives in the moment and exists as a real breathing organism.
Matt performing Donald McKayle's "Games" with the Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company.
Q: What are the themes involved in your piece? Is this a new exploration for you?
A: The name of the piece is Twirling Shivasana and will explore themes of energy, motion, and that twirling force that keeps us all together. I am happy to be working again with my good friend and collaborator Jered Dion Solace who will be composing music for the dance. It has been a great exploration so far and asks that age old question: What comes first the music or the dance?
Q: What do you want your audience to know coming into the performance?
A: I’d tell you more, but I’d have to kill you. And that sure doesn’t help with the voting situation. Just come and be ready for a truly awesome show all around. If you like my piece, clap, scream loud and please do not forget your cow bell. If you don’t like my piece, please don’t boo. And if you throw tomatoes…diced, with mozzarella and basil. Thanks!
Thank you Matt! Make sure to get your tickets to the ‘Young Choreographer’s Prize’ so you can support Matt HERE! Here is a little slide show of Matt for you to enjoy: