Each day, we strive to make ourselves better than we were the day before. We strive for growth, for change, and for the opportunity to find ways to accelerate each of those processes. While self-reflection is a vital tool to our evolution, it is often essential that we turn to our tribe, our community, and our family to give context, clarity, and a sense of direction to where we are headed next. In the professional dance community, one of the avenues we often turn to for the context and clarity of our work and artistic vision is a dance festival. In the festival format, dancers and artists whose paths may not have crossed otherwise are given the opportunity to network, view and digest each other’s work, and gain vital knowledge and inspiration to push the art forward.
For the artistic team at Trifecta Dance Collective, the journey to producing the third annual Trifecta Dance Festival was an undertaking of enormous proportions that required as much introspection as it did feedback and participation from the thriving dance community in Chicago and the greater Midwest region. What began as a limited two-day festival with a handful of participating artists has grown to a five-day event series that includes six performances featuring 13 companies and student/youth choreography, a dance film screening, master classes, an affordable professional photo shoot for industry professionals, and so much more. What’s even more impressive is that this growth spurt happened in a short three-year period.
So how did the artistic team at Trifecta Dance Collective achieve such a massive and impactful way to connect the dance community? It was thanks largely in part to the passion, foresight, and dedication of TDC’s co-founders and co-artistic directors Krissie Odegard Geye and Carrie Patterson. Five years ago, this powerhouse team joined forces to create Trifecta Dance Collective, whose growth was instrumental in the development of their festival.
DancerMusic Editor Kristi Licera recently caught up with Krissie and Carrie to learn more about TDC’s journey over the last five years, as well as more on the exciting offerings of Trifecta Dance Festival. Here’s what they told us:
Beauty can combat evil. This idea churned around in my head for a while… I wanted to think that authentic art deriving from the purest intent could transform lives.
Kristi Licera: As individuals, we strive to choose paths in our lives that not only lead to happiness, but also bring us closer to who we are meant to be. With time on our journeys comes clarity: clarity of self and of the ideals that are most important to us. That clarity helps inform our vision of the future. The same can be said of the growth and development that Trifecta Dance Collective has experienced. Over the years, the company’s mission and vision have developed to encompass more than the pillars of empowerment, engagement and expansion that the company was founded on. Can you tell us more about that journey and where the company stands today?
Krissie Odegard Geye: The Trifecta Dance Collective was initially created to bring our work of powerful movement into the professional sector. Throughout our five-year journey with the professional company, we received a great crash course into what it took to create, manage, and run a company. We had a lot to navigate. We failed, recouped, and learned how to create the culture we desired. We pushed our way into sustaining a functional, stable company and learned to inspire and lead.
Early on, we began applying to showcases and festivals. We wanted to see what was out there and how we stacked up next to similar-sized companies. We applied to do a showcase in Anita’s Way in an amazing space in the heart of Times Square. We were given the opportunity to perform in the space for three days. Anita’s Way provides quality, diverse, public art in the middle of the chaotic, beautiful, electric NYC bustle. Hundreds of people, reaching across all socio-economic, age, and ethnic demographics witness quality public art simultaneously.
During Anita’s Way, my daughter and a student of mine were given a great opportunity to perform privately for singer/songwriter Sara Groves. We traveled to St. Paul, MN to meet Sara and perform two dances for her that I choreographed to her songs. She told us about a story she read that inspired one of the songs she wrote. It was of Karim Wafsi, the conductor of the Iraqi National Orchestra. After a bomb detonated in his city, he took his cello to the heart of the destruction and began to play. His reasoning? Art was more powerful than destruction. Beauty can combat evil.
It is our hope that the world will empower community members to interact with one another and expand connection and growth that will reach across community demographics.
Krissie: Beauty can combat evil. This idea churned around in my head for a while. I had to let it marinate – really sink in. Did I really believe that this was true? I wanted to believe it. I wanted to think that authentic art deriving from the purest intent could transform lives. I began to look for signs that this was a reality.
Sara’s story was confirmed. Beauty was indeed more powerful than art. Beautiful art can change the trajectory of a person’s life. Beautiful art can combat oppression, destruction, and misused power. It was a transformative moment, watching these beautiful kind, good, talented professionals and youth perform in the heart of Times Square to fight off the wrongs of the world. Our mission was becoming for focused, more clear.
Carrie and I met three amazingly beautiful souls; widowed women who deserved to be in the spotlight. Mary, Geri, and Donna taught us so much. We loved them. We honored them with beautiful, intentional, artistic work and they served as the flagship members of our “In.Grained” Series, which was designed to empower and give a substantial platform to community members who feel silenced. During the performance with them, I knew. I knew we finally figured out what it is we were meant to do. The “In.Grained” series was it. It worked. It highlighted good people that deserved a platform to speak from and inspire others in an artistic, beautiful way. It connected people.
This newfound reality is solidifying the pillars in which the company was built. Our goal to engage audience members with quality, inspiring movement still stands. It is our hope that the world will empower community members to interact with one another and expand connection and growth that will reach across community demographics. The formula to reach this result was initially unknown to us. The “In.Grained” series proved to us that, through powerful vulnerability and emotional connection between audience and performer, our mission can be realized, one beautiful soul at a time.
This season, we are pleased to produce 5 nights of performances, showcasing over 65 separate works by artists throughout the Midwest.
Kristi: This is the third year that Trifecta Dance Festival will be produced and performed, and much like the growth of the company, the festival has evolved with each iteration. Can you tell us more about how you developed this year’s festival, and how the clarity of the mission and vision of Trifecta Dance Collective has informed the evolution of the festival?
Carrie Patterson: We are thrilled to witness the amount of excitement and growth that the festival has gained over the past three years. In our first year, we produced one night of “A New Light” (an Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase), one night of “Fresh Perspectives” (the Student Choreography Showcase), and two nights of TDC works.
This festival joins artists and audience members to ignite dialogue about what they see, how it resonates with them, and how witnessing live art is a unifying moment between performers and audience.
Carrie: This season, we are pleased to produce 5 nights of performances, showcasing over 65 separate works by artists throughout the Midwest. This includes two performances of “A New Light” Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase , the “Fresh Perspectives” Student Choreography Showcase, the newly added Dance Film Festival, and a youth performance of “Nosce Te Ipsum”, a full-length contemporary work performed with guest artist and professional dancer Cathy Roe. We are also thrilled to produce two nights of the new “Celebration of Dance”, featuring TDC alongside the Chicago-based companies Chicago Repertory Ballet, Elements Ballet, Ensemble 180, Esoteric Dance Project, forward. the movement, Giordano II, Hot Crowd, Inaside Chicago Dance, LOUD BODIES, Moonwater Dance Project, Noumenon Dance Ensemble, and Winifred Haun and Dancers. Master classes and photo shoot opportunities are also being offered.
We hope that this annual festival can strengthen and bring together this already amazing community of artists that Chicago has to offer.
Carrie: We hope that this festival can be a true celebration of the beautiful, vibrant, and diverse work in our arts community and give audience members a way to see that beauty and art can be powerful. This festival joins artists and audience members to ignite dialogue about what they see, how it resonates with them, and how witnessing live art is a unifying moment between performers and audience. We hope that this annual festival can strengthen and bring together this already amazing community of artists that Chicago has to offer.
Trifecta Dance Collective presents Trifecta Dance Festival January 22-26, 2020 at Stage 773. For tickets, festival passes, and more detailed information about the schedule of events, visit www.trifectadance.org/festival.