Our Monthly “MEET THE ARTIST” Series- KELLY SILLIMAN, Choreographer in Residence

Name: Kelly Silliman
Age: 32
Astrological Sign: Pisces
Hometown: I was born and raised in Bloomfield, CT; I now live north of Charlottesville in Dyke, VA.
Role in C’ville Ballet: Board Member and Resident Choreographer.  My studio, The Dance Barn, is the official rehearsal home of Charlottesville Ballet.
Food: My favorite food has been basil pesto for as long as I can remember.  I love cheese and vegetables.  I also have a serious and barely-controlled sweet tooth.  Ben and Jerry’s……Mmmm!
Color: I like reds and purples.
Book: My two faves are Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  I also love The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and pretty much anything by Barbara Kingsolver or Margaret Atwood.
Movie: It’s probably Good Will Hunting…I love me some old school Matt Damon.
Quotation: “Aw, I see what’s goin’ on here.  We done disturbed the freak hive, and all the worker freaks is trying to protect the queen!” –Glee
Spot in C’ville: I like the McGuffey Arts Center and the Downtown Mall.
Business/Store in C’ville: I’ve got to give props to Maya Restaurant.  (The “Free Range Chicken Breast” is sourced from Sweet Dog Farm!)
Tell us about your dance background and training:
I trained in ballet for ten years before discovering modern dance as a teen.  I studied modern and ballet and spent a lot of my time choreographing in high school, but my main interest was musical theater.  In college I started teaching dance at a local studio and loved it, and realized that teaching and performing on the local level was what I wanted to do with my life.  My full bio can be found here: http://www.dancebarn.net/faculty.html
What genres of dance do you enjoy? I like modern and ballet best, followed by jazz and theatre dance, tap, hip hop, ballroom, and various obscure styles.
What kind of pointe shoe do you wear?
I currently am using a Bloch pointe shoe, maybe a Serenade?  I am ambivalent about it, although I like it a lot better since I made it a 3/4 shank, but I’m not dancing on pointe enough to complain, or spend too much time finding the perfect fit.  My all-time favorite shoe was a Capezio Prelude but I don’t think they make them anymore.
Do you have a favorite ballet:
Of the classics, I like Sleeping Beauty.  I haven’t seen enough live contemporary ballet to really choose a piece from that genre.  My favorite modern company is Alvin Ailey. All that said, in general I prefer smaller, local companies’ work to their larger, more famous contemporaries.  I feel more invested in watching when I know a company has roots in the community.
What’s your favorite ballet/dance step:
I love turns in ballet, especially traveling turns.  In dance in general I love floor work and really athletic choreography.
Tell us, why do you dance?
I can’t imagine not dancing.  I get twitchy if I go too long without using my body, and no other movement practice brings me as much joy and satisfaction.  I love the combination of athleticism and soul-searching artistry.  I love discovering new things about my body in every class and rehearsal.  I love that I can offer so much and still have so much to learn.  I love the sheer physicality of dance, and I love the creative outlet.
What other jobs/activities/life pursuits are you involved in?
I own my own studio, The Dance Barn, in Stanardsville, VA.  My husband and I own Sweet Dog Farm, where he raises pastured poultry as well as goats, dogs, cats, and kids.  We home school our four children, ages 11 months to 8 years old.  I perform and create work as an independent dancer/choreographer.  I love to read.  I am constantly striving to live with less impact on the earth, and with a greater focus on local, sustainable living and community.
What other talents or passions do you have?
I can tie shoelaces in a bow with my toes.
Anything else you’d like to express: I am thrilled to be working so closely with Charlotteville Ballet.  Since I moved to this area in 2003 I have wondered why Charlottesville didn’t already have a professional ballet company, and it is really exciting to be involved with this growing group of amazing dancers.  It is positively decadent as a choreographer to work with professionals on a regular basis!
I am especially looking forward to bringing together some of the Charlottesville Ballet dancers with local modern dancers in a new work I’m creating called Ordinary Joy.  We will be performing the piece at Miki Liszt’s First Friday Series on September 3rd at McGuffey Arts Center.  I also hope to do a Greene County showing in The Dance Barn’s studio theatre!
Kelly Silliman
Kelly’s full professional bio can be found online at www.CharlottesvilleBallet.org.
Thanks for enjoying our “Meet the Artist” segment–
and look for a new Charlottesville Ballet artist profile next month!

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