S P A C E 2022: Rachel Catalano

Rachel Catalano is another one of our artists, currently in residence at BalletCenter Studios. When we interviewed her, she explains how she started her dance career and her process behind creating her piece. Rachel Catalano (she/her) is a dancer & choreographer based in San Diego, California. She began her formal training in the Midwestern US with over a decade of classical ballet instruction before transitioning into her current passion for contemporary movement with an emphasis on somatic healing. Recently, she started Fresh Congress Contemporary Dance in San Diego in 2021, where her first two shows have been highly praised and warmly received by the community. We are stoked to share her new work she’s developed for the residency on October 28th and 29th at the City Heights Performance Annex!

Tell us about your history with dance, performance, and art practice. How has it influenced your voice as a choreographer?

I trained in classical ballet pre-professionally before moving into modern-focused training. I was 15 when my ballet instructors told me I would never have a career in ballet based on my body type. To this day, I am one of 3 dancers at that studio that has had a successful career as a dancer. In part, I’m grateful that their lack of faith in me sent me in a direction of exploration. I trained in various hip hop styles, floorwork, and contemporary techniques (my current favorite ways of moving and choreographing), all because I was put in a box. 

What does your typical creation process look like? This could include pre-rehearsal idea development, rehearsal process, and any other relevant aspects of your process.

Typically the concept is how I like to start the creation process. It’s also usually some sort of healing or understanding of myself that I am currently walking through. In this case, unpacking trauma in relation to my religious upbringing. 

How has your approach to dance creation changed or been different during your residency?

I started this process similarly, except that I asked all my dancers a list of questions around their experiences with religion throughout their lives. Not only did this open up my creation process to a sensitivity of my dancers and their stories, it also has helped my dancers to connect personally with the story we are telling.

Other than dance, what mediums are important to the overall theme of your piece? This could be music, projection, spoken word, etc. What role will these aspects play?

I have a lot more elements to this show than I usually do and I have felt privileged to have the literal and metaphorical space to explore more mediums and dream a bit bigger. I am including spoken word laid over music, projections, shadow puppetry, and props in this show. All of which paint a clear picture of my childhood.

What would you like the audience to know about your work in this show?

I would like the audience to know that this show is a window into my very real, lived experiences.  I believe we all get to see and walk through the world in whatever way we choose, but our stories have power, even if they are not met with agreement.

What are your hopes and dreams for the San Diego dance scene?

I would like to see a more human element to the dance scene in San Diego. Beautiful dance and dancers are everywhere in this city, but the ability to be raw in front of your audience is something I’d be interested in seeing more of and participating in.

Rachel will be presenting her work at our 4th annual S P A C E Showcase on October 28th and 29th at 7pm. Rachel’s work will be joined by work from Zack King and Micah Parra. Use the link below to RSVP to the event. We hope to see you there!