By Laura Puscas, co-founder and artistic director of CoMo Dance
Kimberly Taylor is a company dancer for the Columbus Modern Dance Company and is currently rehearsing for CoMo’s annual springtime performance, Mother’s Day Tea in the Sculpture Garden. Kimberly joins director Laura Puscas to answer some questions about continuing to perform modern dance during the global pandemic.
Laura: Kimberly, tell me more about how you began dancing. Where did you get your training?
Kimberly: I joined a dance group in high school when I was 15 and I immediately fell in love with moving and choreography. I went on to get my training at West Virginia University where I received a minor in dance. During this time I was a member of the WVU Orchesis Modern Dance Company.
Laura: What do you enjoy about being in a part-time professional modern dance company? As an artist, how do you balance rehearsal and everyday life?
Kimberly: Dance is a huge part of who I am. I can’t imagine not doing it. Being in CoMo allows me to continue doing what I love without out interfering with my family time and my job as a first grade teacher. I appreciate that our dance rehearsals are later in the evenings and only a few times a week. I get to spend the evening with my boys, put them down to sleep and make it to rehearsal. It’s a healthy outlet that helps me be a better wife, mom and teacher.
Laura: What are your favorite performances across all your years with CoMo?
Kimberly: Nothing beats the wonderful privilege of working with Miki Orihara to reset the choreography by Martha Graham in the classic modern piece Heretic. It was an honor to learn the movement from a former Martha Graham Company dancer and wear the costumes the Martha Graham Company lent us. The movement was tough and we poured our heart and soul into it. The night we performed it, there was this amazing energy that we could all feel, almost like Martha was right there with us. It was an emotional evening and an experience I will never forget.
Laura: What has it been like to dance with CoMo during the turbulent 2020-2021 season and now into 2021-2022?
Kimberly: It has been a blessing being able to continue moving and expressing myself creatively during the pandemic. Dancing with CoMo has given me the opportunity to feel connected while remaining socially distanced and safe. We have the option to meet virtually one night a week and/or in person (socially distancing and wearing mask) in the studio one night a week. While doing it virtually was a major learning curve for all of us, we made it work. We’d move our furniture and make a space to move in. It was like a safe little box. It provided the calm that we needed during a time of such uncertainty.
I’m impressed with how CoMo has remained active in the community and has found ways to think outside of the box, and continue performing, while staying socially distanced. The company did two collaborations with Chamber Brews as well as inviting a guest choreographer Dian Jing to work with us on one of the collaborations. We found interesting sights around Columbus to film ourselves dancing and live streamed it, so it was available to everyone. We did a performance in a dancer’s garage (all filmed individually) and the edited product made it appear we were all together. Our current project is the annual Mother’s Day Tea, which is being held in the sculpture garden at the Columbus Museum of Art.
Laura: What is your favorite thing about CoMo’s annual Mother’s Day performance?
Kimberly: My favorite thing about the Mother’s Day Tea is that it is outside. It’s refreshing being able to connect with nature, feeling the cool ground beneath our feet as we move. Plus, it gives our audience a reason to be outside and the opportunity to see a beautiful spot in Columbus they otherwise may not have visited.
Laura: What are you looking forward to most when dancers and audiences are fully vaccinated?
Kimberly: I cannot wait to do interactive movement again with the other dancers! It limits where the movement can go when there can be no contact. I miss feeling the touch of another dancer… a simple pat on the back, grab of the hand, a wrap around the body or lift into the air. I also miss performing on a stage with lights and sound, knowing there are rows of people sitting together, side-by-side enjoying the show.
Laura: What’s the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Kimberly: The best thing about the Columbus art scene is that it is still thriving, even during a pandemic! You can see it on social media that artists are coming together and finding ways to generate creative works and interesting ways to showcase them safely via live streams or performances rotating the audience in an outdoor venue.
See Kimberly dancing live at Mother’s Day Tea in the Sculpture Garden on Sunday, May 9 at the Columbus Museum of Art at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., no ticket necessary. A free virtual stream of Mother’s Day Tea will also take place at 3 p.m. on CoMo’s YouTube. Learn more at comodance.org/performances. You can also catch Kimberly in CoMo’s dance for film work Collective Solitude (streaming now) and on May 8 at the Dublin Dance Foundation’s Movement Mission benefit concert.