Sunday, May 17, 2020

Artists Reach Out: Katherine De La Cruz

Dear friends,

Welcome to Artists Reach Out: reflections in a time of isolation. I dreamed this series of interviews out of grief for my work both as a documenting arts writer and curator of live performance. In this time of social distancing, we are called to responsibly do all we can to safeguard ourselves and our neighbors. It is, literally, a matter of life and death.

But there's no distancing around what we still can share with one another--our experiences, thoughts, wisdom, humor, hearts and spirit. In some ways, there are more opportunities to do so as we pull back from everyday busyness out in the world and have time to honor the call of our inner lives.

So, let me introduce you to some artists I find interesting. I'm glad they're part of our beautiful community, and I'm eager to engage with them again (or for the first time) in years to come.

--Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody

Katherine De La Cruz

Katherine De La Cruz
(photo: Chello Cruz)

Katherine De La Cruz is a dancer and choreographer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduating senior at Hunter College where she double majored in Dance and Anthropology. As an anthropology student she was a McNair Scholar and was awarded various departmental honors. She conducted research in North Carolina under the guidance of the MURAP program at UNC Chapel Hill.

Her anthropological research led her to study her childhood passion: Dance. As a Dance Major, Katherine has danced in numerous student pieces as well as choreographed two original works. She danced at New York City Center’s Fall For Dance Festival, performing alongside Monica Bill Barnes in her piece, The Running Show. Her first work, Autumn Heat, premiered in Fall 2019. Her senior choreographic project, Pixel Element, was not premiered due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Due to the shift to distance-learning, Katherine was thrust into the world of filmmaking. En La Luz is a dance film born out of an uncertain and depressing time. It is a work that speaks to the inner strength one must find in difficult times. The work focuses on the way light can be manipulated, shut out but eventually let in. While this is Katherine’s first shot at directing, film has become a new medium through which she aims to create and explore. She will continue to dance in her living room until she can dance in stages all over the world.

Katherine De La Cruz
(photos: above, Joshua Pacheco;
below: Nykeema Williams)

Do you have a current or planned project whose progress is affected by the pandemic?

This semester I was working on my final choreographic project of my undergraduate career. The piece, Picture Element, was supposed to premiere early May at The Kaye Playhouse in Hunter College. However in March, Hunter College closed its doors and moved to distance learning. This meant that my piece was left unfinished and was not presented. I was also going to take part in the Estrogenius festival but was unable to due to the pandemic.

Briefly, tell me about how you got involved in the arts and in your particular practice.

I loved dancing from an early age but was unable to train consistently during my childhood and adolescence due to financial issues. I mainly trained in ballet, on and off, in middle school and high school. I was always drawn to the arts in general so I participated in any arts-related after-school program I could find. I took acting classes, fine arts and dance classes through those programs.

I stopped dancing in college and pursued an anthropology degree but then, in senior year, I was drawn to dance again and decided to take an extra year to pursue a Dance degree as well. I began training in modern dance styles for the first time at Hunter College, and this is where I began cultivating a more personal practice with dance performance and dance-making.

In a more specific way, what are you practicing? And what are you envisioning?

For me, dance has become more than just something I do. I have begun to see movement as healing not only within my own body but for people who watch my work. I envision dance that is not just aesthetically beautiful but also invites the audience to be introspective about their own lives and desires.

How does your practice and your visioning align with what you most care about?

I think my practice ties in with what’s central in my life, because I see community and growth as most important. If dance can create a space beyond the traditional competitive perspective, dancers can improve not only in their technical skills but also emotionally and psychologically.

How does your practice function within the world we have now?

Viewing dance as medicine is very crucial in this time of so much suffering and sickness. Seeking out community during a time of isolation is crucial in keeping the bonds that makes us feel human. Through seeing dance as a medicine for the dancer themselves as well as for the audience, we can create art that reaches beyond the scope of an entertainment experience. I think dance needs to respond to what we are experiencing directly and evolve instead of trying to go back to “normal.”

Briefly share one self-care tip that has special meaning to you now.

Currently my self-care tip is not pressuring myself to be productive all the time. While I like to do different activities to keep my mind and body engaged, I have also grown to be kinder to myself when all I want is to take a nap. Take the nap!


DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve as Senior Curatorial Director of Gibney. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.


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