Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Tara Rynders
Photo by Claire Roeth
#88: Tara Rynders
Dancer Tara Rynders is on a global mission to bring her moves right out into the streets, and she's been doing it, country by country, since 2011, when she launched You & Me, an ongoing series of site-specific interactive performances that's been on the road ever since. Now she's back in Denver, preparing to travel abroad -- but not before hosting a round of intimate You & Me performances and dining this weekend and next, featuring a multidisciplinary pool of regional artists in a relaxed setting. Visit You & Me online for more information and tickets; for more about the artist, here's her 100CC questionnaire.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
I would collaborate with my great-great-grandmother Maria Isabel. She was born and raised in rural Mexico and met my great-great-grandfather Henry when he was "visiting" from Arizona. She was a saloon dancer during the vaudeville era, and as the tale goes, she was whisked off her feet and taken to Tombstone, Arizona, as my great-great-grandfather's new wife.
I feel very close to her even though we have never met. From stories of her, we are very similar in personality and looks. I imagine growing up with her learning, all her sweet hi-kicks and her fancy shoulder rolls. Luckily, I grew up in Reno, so I was able to pick up some of those moves early on.
My collaboration would be us taking a trip through time and history together, taking me back to pre-great-great-grandfather time and creating a duet together with feather boas, fancy hats, a cane and lots of makeup. It would extend into the wee hours of the morning, and all the guests would join us in dancing and singing, and we would end up passed out, either from alcohol or pure exhaustion or both, somewhere outside where I would be listening to the tales of my Maria Isabel as she instilled into me new understanding that would last for generations to come.
Photo by Cortney McGuire
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I recently just returned from our You & Me European tour, where I was able to spend one to two weeks in five different countries, working with local artists, dancers, musicians and chefs in each city. What is interesting to me in the world right now is how the majority of dancers that I met are all using dance as a foundation to build upon in their lives to create with and explore with. It is the essential building block that allows for further creative exploration to be had in new and exciting environments.
One Italian artist and dancer, Cristina Crippa, is bringing a dance form called contact improvisation, created by Steve Paxton in 1970, into Italian hospitals and is working with nurses and doctors exploring how their movement and touch can affect their patients and patient outcome. Each dancer I met had a story of how they were using dance in non-traditional ways through non-traditional means in non-traditional spaces. This is interesting to me because it is the heart of my work.
Taking dance out of the proscenium and into real-life space has been a helpful tool for me, my process and my ability to reach others through dance. Seeing dance in natural environments creates a sense of familiarity and allows for the movement of life, trains, people, bikes and animals to influence the performance. I cannot and never have been able to create choreography in a dance studio. I create choreography in sites, in relation to other people, nature and the location. I am a relational artist through and through. I like to provide a hook that allows others to grab onto and come inside the dance with me and experience it with me in their own way.
This can definitely be done in the proscenium, but I personally just don't know how to create that experience. Kat Gurley -- the artistic director of Wild Heart, a Boulder-based dance company that I dance for -- is very gifted in creating this experience in the proscenium.
Tara Rynders in Helsinki.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I'm just glad that people are making art so I can't really say I want to see anything die.
What's your day job?
I am a registered nurse in the ER at Rose Medical Center. I have to say that my day job has heavily influenced me as an artist. Dance and nursing are very similar for me. Intimacy is a core theme in my art and as an ER nurse, I am having one-on-one intimate experiences with every patient I see. I am hearing stories that no one will ever hear, I see the joy of families when a loved one is revived and experience first-hand that moment when someone just found out that their loved one is now gone. These are moments that I feel honored to be privy to, and it is in these moments that I experience real people, real loss, real pain, real joy and all the fluff of what we own or what we wear or anything else that creates hierarchy and judgement between us is gone, and it is just You & Me and the rawness and truth of the situation. This to me is the beauty of life. It is what I think is important. It is why I create and why I work in the ER.
During grad school, my sister, Hannah, who was 26 at the time, went into a coma for months, and the doctors didn't know why. I took a semester off from school and spent every day with her in her rehabiliation center in California. I bathed her, helped her eat and became her voice, fighting for her mind and body to return. She is now 99 percent mentally my sister but she is completely disabled, wheelchair-bound and unable to speak. She uses an iPad to communicate, but is essentially locked in her body. The moments I had with my sister deeply influenced myself as an artist. This experience alongside my work as a nurse inspired my project You & Me.
I wanted to use art to allow others to experience another person in a way that seems to be a lost art in our culture. We are too busy, too distracted and too tied up in ourselves or our phones to see each other -- myself times ten included in this statement. You & Me allows for an evening of trying new things, playing, feeling, being seen and seeing others and life from a new perspective.
At nights in the rehab with my sister, I would play Hannah Montana's "Party in the USA," my sister's favorite song, and I would dance around the room doing crazy and sweet dance moves that always made her laugh. I have unfortunately seen what it looks like when someone cannot move their body, and so I choose every day to consciously move mine and dance with every opportunity, knowing it can be gone so quickly. I learned from this experience with my sister and as an ER nurse that our bodies and our lives are so very frail, and that anything can change in an instant. Dancing in my sister's room created space for her to feel my movement and hopefully feel some freedom through me. This is my hope when I dance with others in You & Me -- to offer them a space with me to feel freedom through movement.
Photo by Heather Gray
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would like to create You & Me centers all around that world that have after-school art programs and hire artists who go into schools to work and create with students. It would house workshops based on the ideas, themes and ideals found in You & Me. It would have a center for disabled young adults to create art together, it would house studios for emerging artists and dance studio space for resident dance companies, it would be a center where collaboration across all art forms and mediums could take place, it would have a community garden that offered free dinners prepared from the garden once a week all summer long, it would have all this and probably a lot more. I think this would be nice.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I wonder about creating a state law that allows for artists and dancers and creative people in all art forms to work full-time as artists and get a stipend from the state to be able to do this. I wonder about daily K-12 art, music and dance classes in the Denver Public Schools system. I wonder how we might open up more of our homes as spaces for performance, gallery exhibitions and concerts. I wonder about an artist-exchange program between cities.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Michelle Ellsworth, who was my advisor and professor at CU-Boulder. She is a performance artist who comes primarily from the land of dance. She comes up with ideas and makes them happen and when she can't make them happen by herself, she finds other people who can make them happen with her. She is an extremely hard worker, and each performance she creates has endless hours and hours and hours poured into every detail of every moment. She is constantly changing and creating up until the very moment she is on stage. She is a generous artist and friend.
You & Me Germany.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
This fall, I will be working with a community of international artists to create You & Me Germany. This summer, I will be teaching a dance for camera workshop at Perry Mansfield. I will also be teaching a workshop at the Moving Arts Lab at Earthdance in Plainfield, Massachusetts, and performing with Wild Heart at the Dairy Center for Performing Arts. As co-artistic director of the San Souci Festival of Dance Cinema, I will be co-curating our 2014 festival. AND I am hoping to make a baby with my loving partner Tim Rynders.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?
Jess Webb (mother, cellist and incredible creator of visual art), Rachel Oliver (dancer, artist and incredible plate handler), Sean Hudson (visual artist and plant collector, who has an incredible lens through which he views the world), and Kat Gurley (dancer, proscenium genius and incredible teacher of life and dance).
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
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