One of the best aspects of being a student in a university dance program is the reassurance of having a network of incredible alumni that are already working in the fields we are looking to pursue (performance, choreography, film, administration, and so on). With this assignment, which Sofie calls the Global Dance Community, we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to this unbelievable network. I was fortunate enough to be partnered with my close friend, Brianna Rhodes, to schedule and conduct an interview with dance videographer, Ellen Maynard. Below is a sample of one of her many dance films, Undertow:
After some communication confusion, we finally scheduled an interview with Ellen on Monday, April 11th. We did so through a facetime call; Brianna and I in my dorm room, and Ellen in her New York apartment. Although this wasn’t the ideal way to hold a conversation (due to the slight lag), we managed to gather quite a bit of information about her life and the life of young artists living in the big apple.
Ellen Maynard was born and raised in San Diego, and began dancing at early age by the suggestion of her mother. In middle school, Maynard became more interested and invested in her dance training and made the decision to focus in dance at Canyon Crest Academy in High School. After graduating in 2009, she made the transition from the west coast to Columbus, Ohio, where she pursued her BFA in dance at The Ohio State University.
One of my first questions for Ellen was about the difference between dance culture and technique across regions, since she had experience with dance on both coasts and in the Midwest. I was not completely sure what her response to this question would be. As far as I was knew, there could be no difference, but I was curious none the less. Luckily, Ellen had a fabulous answer to my question. In the terms of technique, she explained that west coast contemporary focused on moving through space, avoiding stationary or focused movement, and had a generally very expansive quality. We agreed that this reflected the quality of the landscapes in California—constant rolling hills and mountains; acres of wine country; long flat beaches next to miles of blue wavy ocean. She also juxtaposed this with the culture of dance classes in Ohio and on the West Coast. Many dance classes here permit stationary study of movement, in fact, it is not uncommon to stand in the same spot for half to seventy five percent of the class.
After graduating from Ohio State in 2013, Ellen headed to to the Bates Dance Festival for an internship in dance videography which became her focus at OSU. There, she connected with Peter Richards who would later provide a great deal of work for her in New York. Ellen is now living in New York City where she does freelance videography with The Fleet, dance documentation group she formed with two of her close friends and peers.