// ARTIST IN SERVICE KT NIEHOFF //
KT NIEHOFF is Velocity’s 2015-2017 Artist in Service.
FROM KT NIEHOFF:
“As a co-founder of Velocity Dance Center I have been a part of the family from the beginning. As the organization approaches the two-decade mark, I am honored to reunite with Velocity on two overlapping endeavors – my next performance project, Helium Poised, to be developed through Velocity’s Made in Seattle program, and a post Velocity’s Artistic Director Tonya Lockyer and I are dubbing Artist in Service.”
FROM TONYA LOCKYER:
“When KT approached me with her initial idea for Helium Poised, I recognized a wonderful opportunity to celebrate her legacy but also to look to the future by helping devise a project bringing together the many facets of her creative identity. KT is a multifaceted maker. She is a choreographer, producer, entrepreneur, a creator of social experiences, and a builder of public spaces like Velocity and 10 degrees that are valuable community resources. . . her performance projects focused on dance and social engagement were ahead of the curve. As with many entrepreneurial artists, these aspects of KT’s creative life have often been separated. But what happens if we see all these endeavors as artistic engagements? KT brings a choreographic lens that is both poetic and practical.”
2016 marks the 20th anniversary of Velocity Dance Center. As the co-founder, along with Michele Miller, I have been a part of its journey from the beginning. Velocity was established in 1996 in one room on the 2nd floor of the Oddfellows Hall, where it grew from a single room studio managed by Michele and I to three studios, a convertible studio theater, a staff of five and a Board of 12. Michele and I left in 2006 and since then, Velocity has continued to thrive, becoming the sophisticated arts organization it is today.
As an artist and producer with 25 years of experience, I have been thinking about the word “generation” and all it encompasses. How generations of artists support and thwart one another, growing through encouragement as well as resistance. And how aptly the root of the word – “generate” – applies to artists as well. We make and make and make again. Over and over we build ideas, dances, classes and movements that shape the objectives and aesthetics of each era.
As Velocity approaches its 20th year, Tonya and I have constructed a post we are calling “Artist in Service.” We are laying the framework for this newly created title together – developing platforms for artists in my strata to become mentors both in the studio and out – scheduling, taxes, finances, advocacy, and entrepreneurial strategies. We are also developing a prospectus that imparts the stories and accomplishments of Seattle’s dance scene. Contemporary artists push against the restraints of their field and forge new territory – a remote existence by nature. Teaching the living history we are all a part of allows each artist to establish their place in a larger context, empowered by the knowledge we are all pushing forward together.
From May 2015 – March 2017 we will present a series of entry points under the Artist in Service program. Stay tuned.
KT NIEHOFF is an entrepreneurial generative artist, performer, and producer working in the field of multi-disciplinary, new performance.
As a child she was trained as a classical choral singer. In the late 80’s she moved to NYC to study at the Experimental Performance Wing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she began building and directing her own works.
Upon graduation, KT became an industrial strategist working largely in contemporary dance. She was an instrumental collaborator in the building of the studio theater at Dance Space Inc. at 622 Broadway NYC, where she started her first production company with Michele Miller, supplying quarterly opportunities for dance artists to show work.
In the early 90’s she moved to Seattle, WA to perform with the Pat Graney Company, touring throughout the US, Europe and South America performing Ms. Graney’s seminal work, Faith. Simultaneously she was a founding member of the D-9 Dance Collective, a cooperative of nine women that commissioned, produced and performed new dance works by local and national choreographers. She was, along with A.C. Peterson and Kara O’Toole, the founder and co-editor of DanceNet Magazine – a monthly publication of op-eds, reviews and calendars for the Seattle dance community. During this time she continued pursuing her interest in architecture by designing and building her own house.
In 1996 KT narrowed her focus to pursue two, parallel paths – 1) form a company to consistently create and direct her original compositions and 2) found the Seattle based arts space, Velocity Dance Center, with co-founder Michele Miller. During her 10-year tenure at Velocity, KT instituted five instrumental programs to facilitate the growth of the Seattle dance community: Strictly Seattle Summer Dance Intensive, The Guest Artist Series, SCUBA National Touring Dance Alliance, The Bridge Project and Velocity’s comprehensive dance teaching program for beginning to professional adults. With Miller, the center grew to include a convertible studio theater, three rehearsal/teaching studios, and a private Pilates studio.
Her career as a generative artist began with a commission from On the Boards in Seattle, and by 2006 she had built five evening-length works that toured performance venues and colleges throughout the US and in Japan, Canada, Germany and Ecuador.
In 2006 she left her post at Velocity to pursue her creative works full time. It was at this point her focus shifted to audience/artist proximity, resulting in the majority of her work happening outside the proscenium. Her wide-ranging training and experience facilitated her growth from a collaborative choreographer to an interdisciplinary creator designing every aspect of her work – audience integration, music, design, movement, and choice of space, food and drink elements. Her works have evolved to be immersive, multi-sensory, multi-dimensional pieces, embedded into theaters, city streets, books, images, films, dinner tables, bars, private homes, mailboxes and conversations.
KT has been at the forefront of creating performances that have larger social constructs and push against their defined constraints. Since the beginning of her career she has engaged in active inquiry surrounding the merging of concrete and virtual realities, art and life, work and play and how art integrates most effectively in society.
As an educator, KT has built three pedagogical systems that she has taught and refined for 20 years. Reinvent Your Eye – Tools for Abstract Composition is a class for generative artists in any field that uses highly structured improvisational scores to examine the components associated with creating non-linear, non-narrative art works. Physical Practice is a ritualized daily training class for professional dancers. And her workshop Frame by Frame takes the new dance filmmaker through every step of the process – sound and choreographic elements, story boarding, location scouting, styling, and directing – as they create their own short dance film. She has taught this work at numerous festivals and universities including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Oberlin College, Cornish College of the Arts, Texas Christian University, Mt. Holyoke, The University of Washington, The Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts and the SNDO, Amsterdam.
Notable fellowships, awards, articles and grants include:
New Filmmakers NYC Official Selection (’15), Miami Short Film Festival Official Selection, (14’), MAP Fund recipient (’12-’13), Cover Feature City Arts Magazine (’13), Cover Feature Dance Teacher Magazine (’12), Artist in Residence ACT Theatre, Seattle (’10 & ’12), San Francisco International Dance Film Festival Official Selection (’10), The National Performance Network (’06-’12), Dance Magazine’s “International Women in Dance” featured artist (’08), MANCC Fellow (’06), The Stranger Genius Award for Velocity Dance Center (’05), The National Endowment for the Arts (’05, ’06), The National Dance Project Creation Award(’05), The National Dance Project Production Award (’03), Arts International (’03), Artist Trust Fellow (’01), Meet the Composer (’99) and multiple awards from King County’s 4culture, Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture and The Bossak/Heilbron Foundation.
Currently KT is working on a new piece, Helium Poised, commissioned for the 20th year anniversary season at Velocity Dance Center. Helium Poised is an extended multi-disciplinary project built through a choreographic lens. A series of community conversations, workshops and fashioned performance encounters offered throughout the development stage of the piece highlight the evolution of contemporary dance – as defined by audiences and artists alike – what our assumptions are of dance as an art form, the job of a choreographer as a maker and the role of the audience as witness vs. engaged participant. These events all lead to a final performance honoring my history as a dance specialist and my future as the author of holistic, multi-sensory contemporary performances.
Simultaneously she is running 10 degrees, her art + event space opened in 2011, which she designed and built. 10 degrees is a commerce driven venture that supports the philanthropic artistic mission of the space through private event rentals.
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