Hannah’s Heart to Heart on Art to Art

About nine years ago, Danceworks decided it was time to buy a light board for our productions instead of constantly renting. We offered a “Pay What You Can” series of summer performances to raise the money. The money was raised; we bought the light board and also ended up with an annual summer dance series. This eventually grew into what is now called the Danceworks DanceLAB, which supports the development of new dance works by independent and emerging dance artists.

One of the annual productions on the series is Art to Art, popular since it was first envisioned by Sarah Wilbur in 2004. It encourages something that Danceworks highly values: collaboration. It’s a concert featuring works created by two or more artists in different disciplines. Local choreographers join film, music, theatre and visual artists in this audience favorite.

Hannah Marquardt
Hannah Marquardt

Hannah Marquardt, Danceworks’ customer satisfaction manager, is an artist who, like many of our staff, balances performing and teaching with administrative responsibilities. She has participated in Art to Art since 2007 and shares her thoughts on why she enjoys being a part of it. –Deb Farris

The concept of Art to Art was different than anything else offered at the time. I had always done pieces with music and choreography, and it was great to be encouraged to collaborate with other art forms. I was invited by Ashley (Johnson) Trottier who was collaborating with Bob Watt, a local folk artist with quite a following. Ashley used his paintings as a jumping-off point for the choreography and on the stage for her set design. She also integrated his poetry through spoken word into the piece. A lot of people who came to see Bob’s work got exposed to dance as well.

In 2010, I was one of the choreographers and collaborated with a singer, Susan Wiedmeyer (also a “Danceworker!”). In 2012 and 2013, I’ve been a dancer, working with Catey Ott Thompson as choreographer and Kai Marquardt (my husband, incidentally!) as the collaborating visual artist.

The talkback sessions that are integrated into the development of the work to provide feedback are really valuable. They provide perspective that you wouldn’t otherwise think of. MIAD instructors, UWM faculty, visual artists and directors from local dance companies all attend and offer their perceptions, along with the other choreographers participating in Art to Art. A bond develops between the artists, and you learn by watching the other artists’ pieces develop. It creates excitement about the event. It is inspiring to learn what the process is like for artists of different disciplines. My starting point as a choreographer is very different than artists of another genre. You develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for other disciplines.

The progression of Art to Art over the years has been fulfilling to experience. The pairing of artists from different disciplines always brings an interesting juxtaposition of art forms. And Art to Art’s production elements—film, lighting design—and overall quality of work produced has really developed over the years as well.

Hannah and Catey Ott with Kai's sculpture
Hannah and Catey Ott with Kai’s sculpture

I like the fact that the visual art that is integrated into the piece will be around after the dance performance is finished. My husband Kai, for example, can build something that will be around for years and years. Once I am done with my performance, it’s over. We’re at two ends of the spectrum. Unless you see a dancer’s performance on a video, it lasts only in the viewers’ memory and is left to their own interpretation.

All of the artists and choreographers have put their signatures on each piece. I think it will be the best Art to Art that Danceworks has produced! There’s a little something for everyone

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