By Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

Theresa Bautista is a dancer, choreographer and teacher working with many companies, including the Louisville Ballet School. She is the founder of the Moving Collective, which presents Modern Views, its opening dance concert for the 2014-2015 season on November 8 at 8:00pm. Works by Theresa Bautista, d a n a h b e l l a DanceWorks, Colleen Byrne, Christephor Gilbert of jan street dance theatre, Ila Conoley Paladino of ICONography Dance, and Susie Thiel Collaborative will be presented.

Keith Waits: Theresa, thank you for answering our questions. #1. Where are you from originally?

Theresa Bautista: I was born in Louisville, KY but grew up across the river in Jeffersonville, IN.

KW: #2. When did first decide you wanted to be a dancer?

TB: It has always been a dream to be a dancer, but I was told it wasn’t practical to make a living at it, especially in high school. In my junior year of college, I decided I that while I enjoyed studying biology, I really wanted to dance instead. So I made the decision to attempt a career in some way.

KW: #3. You have worked with groups in other cities, why do you make Louisville home?

TB: Honestly, I didn’t think I would end up in Louisville because I didn’t think the city had enough opportunities for dancers. But I found work here teaching dance and performing here so I stayed. Then I discovered that I could make more dance happen in Louisville for me as well as other artists. There is a wealth of aspiring dancers and choreographers in the Louisville region. Why not cultivate it and create opportunities for us?

KW: #4. Besides performing, you also choreograph. What motivated you to move in this direction?

TB: Ha! I always laugh at this question because in all my visions of having a dance career, it never involved becoming a choreographer. I kind of fell into it by accident because the directors of Art! Art! Barking Dog Dance Company said I should choreograph for their company. I did not feel I was ready to do this at the time, and didn’t have the tools to do this or an artistic vision for it. But I learned a lot from the various choreographers I worked with over the years and eventually found that I did have something I wanted to say through dance. I like to create dances that speak of social issues or shared human experiences. I also like to create dances that are just feel good for dancers to dance.

KW: #5. As an instructor, what are the challenges in working with young students?

TB: I teach at several local dance studios including the Louisville Ballet School, ages ranging from 8 years and older. I always want to give my students a good foundation for further study in any genre of dance. But that foundation often requires a lot of repetition of fundamentals and keeping them interested and focused from class to class can be a challenge. I want them to build on the basics by introducing them to new things or the “next level” of a step or dance move, but also want to make sure that they are physically ready for it so that they don’t get injured unnecessarily.

KW: #6. What is the most important advice you can give a kid wanting to be a dancer?

TB: I have lots of advice to give. But it boils down to being realistic about what you can achieve. I would never tell a young dancer that they can’t have a career, but not all of us gets to dance for the New York City Ballet and be the principal dancer getting the lead roles. So know what will satisfy you… is it dancing for any company in any role or ensemble enough? Are you willing to make sacrifices for your art? Are you willing to take an alternative route to keep dancing such as working with pick up companies, teaching dance, or dancing in a costume at a theme park? If you can define what you are willing and not willing to do, then you know your limits and chances of success.

KW: #7. You also founded Moving Collective, a group devoted to modern dance. How would you characterize the work you do there?

TB: I would say that I am a producer of dance concerts in a festival like setting. While I often choreograph a work for a concert and dance for another choreographer, I basically, with the help of Amanda Johnson, organize everything to make the concert happen. This includes adjudicating choreographers, auditioning dancers, creating the PR and artwork designs, handling ticketing sales and donations, managing the website, booking theatres, etc. It’s a lot of administrative work!


Theresa Bautista’s “What’s your Angle: Go Round,” which will be presented at the upcoming Modern Views concert. Photo – David Flores


KW: #8. In the past, you have had some interesting collaborations, such as a program with Bourbon Baroque a couple of seasons back. Why are such joint explorations important?

TB: Joint explorations are important because it can stretch your preconception of what modern dance is or what style of dance you associate with Baroque music. We collaborated twice with BB and both times it was challenge for our choreographers whose ideas didn’t always fit with music and our audience who was used to a diverse music selection throughout a concert. But I think we all grew from the experience, that that is what is important. Hopefully both groups expanded their audience base as well.

KW: #9. Are you planning more such partnerships in the future?

TB: Of course! I am always in talks with other artists about collaborating. There’s an improvisation jam in the works between dancers and musicians. Also I have big dreams with architects, filmmakers, and musicians… Time, location and funding all have to align, but we’re excited about the ideas…

KW: #10. Moving Collective is a rare independent dance group consistently operating in Louisville – Why aren’t there more efforts outside of the Louisville Ballet?

TB: Again, time and funding are the biggest obstacles… If I could make Moving Collective my full time job, I would definitely do more. It’s a big endeavor and not many people are willing to take it on. There needs to be more dance in Louisville and I think the city would support alternatives to Louisville Ballet and Moving Collective. That being said, because I do believe in supporting all dance in the city, I would like to point out two groups that are making the effort… Vandivier Ford Dance Company and Keen Dance Theatre.

KW: #11. What’s the biggest misconception about modern dance?

TB: Sometime people find modern dance too abstract or inaccessible. But it isn’t always having about having a clear narrative. It’s exploring an idea through movement.

KW: #12. Why does Moving Collective typically do only one performance a season?

TB: Mostly it’s because of time. I have a lot of dance projects I do independently from Moving Collective in addition to teaching dance full time. Moving Collective is not a dance company in a traditional sense, more of an organizer of dance. We usually work with pick up choreographers and dancers, although many of choreographers and dancers work with us regularly. So while it does offer a venue for me to create and perform, it is not my only option.

KW: #13. When not performing, what is the group up to?

TB: Amanda and I are the only two that work at it regularly. If we aren’t prepping for a new season or concert, we are working on independent projects. I currently am creating a new work for the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance and applying to present a different work at a dance festival in the spring. The same is often true for any other choreographer or dancer that has worked with us.

KW: #14. As a choreographer, from what do you draw inspiration?

TB: Everything! I am constantly reading, listening to NPR, observing people, looking at art and listening to music. All of these ideas get stored away in my brain or my notebook. Then I wait for the opportunity to create or create the opportunity to explore.

KW: #15. Which comes first, the music or the movement concept?

TB: Each time is different. Sometimes I hear music and it immediately tells me a story or how to move. Other times, I like to explore how the dancers I’m working with like to move and go from there.

KW: #16. What can you tell us about the upcoming program, Moving Views?

TB: All the choreographers have a distinct voice so it will be a diverse program. We’ve got some “traditional” contemporary dance, a work with live musicians, and a collaboration between film and dance. We got something for everyone.

KW: #17. What would you be doing if you were not a dancer?

TB: The first thing that comes to mind is sleep! But in all seriousness, if I couldn’t dance, I would still want to be creative. I love design and I am intrigued by architecture. Architecture and dance have many similarities regarding shape, texture, space and form. I think I would build things if I couldn’t dance.


Moving Collective presents Moving Views

November 8, 2014

Ursuline Arts Center
3114 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY 40206
For tickets go to:


Keith[box_light]Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at the Louisville Visual Art Association during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for[/box_light]