Name: Angie Simmons
Hometown: Centralia, Illinois
Current City: Denver, Colorado
Education: MFA in Dance Choreography, University of Colorado, BS in Dance Education from Illinois State University, 1000 Hour Certification in Massage Therapy from Boulder College of Massage Therapy
Profession: Artistic Director, Choreographer, Massage Therapist, Educator
Company: Evolving Doors Dance
Spouse: Amy Shelley, drummer and sound design artist
Angie Simmons is an independent choreographer, dance educator, and the Artistic Director/choreographer of Evolving Doors Dance (EDD), a contemporary modern dance company she founded in 2006. Her work with EDD focuses on dissecting human interactions, empowering women, issues in the GLBTQ community, and evoking and engaging audiences. Angie has been awarded Neodata Endowment Project grants for the last several years, various Boulder Arts Commission grants, as well as a 2008 BCAA Neodata Endowment Fellowship Award for her body of work in Colorado. She has choreographed, taught and performed in New York, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, and throughout the midwest, and currently teaches and creates dance work in the Boulder/Denver area.
Angie holds an MFA in dance choreography from the University of Colorado at Boulder, with an emphasis in the Alexander Technique, and a BS in secondary dance education from Illinois State University. Angie currently dances with Cindy Brandle Dance. Aside from her performances with Evolving Doors Dance, Simmons has also performed professionally with Isis Movement Company and Tribe of Human in New York and 3rd Law Dance/Theatre and Louder Than Words Dancetheatre in Colorado. Angie has also worked on individual projects with Gabe Masson, Tom Evert, Marcela Alvarez, Jon DeMone, Doug Woods, Kim Neal Knofsinger, David Dorfman, Toby Hankin, Nada Diachenko, Megan Flood, Maruisz Olszewski, Anna Baer, and Lynda White.
A Chat With Angie Simmons:
What brought your to Denver, Colorado?
I came to Colorado to pursue my MFA at CU Boulder and fell in love with the metro area and the community of people. I love the weather, mountains (which I’d never seen before my grad school audition at CU)!
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always wanted to be a choreographer. I’m lucky that I get to live my childhood dream. Back then, I thought I’d be a ballet dancer and choreographer, but when I was introduced to modern dance in undergrad I never looked back.
Who/What motivates you?
My motivations fluctuate. I’m frequently motivated by the skill and vulnerability of the dancers I work with. I’m fortunate to work with some amazing and passionate human beings and I’m indebted to them for embodying the work I envision. Sometimes, I’m motivated by a specific topic or focus that I go on to make work about and other times I’m motivated by the overwhelming desire to bring art to our community and our community to art! Finally, I’m very motivated by the body and learning. It is exhilarating as an educator to bring people closer to an understanding of how they can learn from and harness that, whether they are five or ninety-five, whether they have taken a million dance classes or just one.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I like to measure my success with more than just artistic achievement. I am proud of the life I have sculpted and worked to cultivate in Colorado, the communities I am part of, and the important relationships in my life. I’m also proud of my work. I have founded two successful dance companies, a student company that I directed for three years and a professional company that I have directed for the past six. I have taught many, many dancers and have had a hand in their growth. Unless I’m writing a bio or touching up my resume, I rarely look back over my past achievements. It’s something every artist should do on occasion. It is satisfying and a good reminder that all the work I’ve put into things has a tangible conclusion. However, I tend to spend most of my time planning for whatever is coming next and how it can be more interesting than what I’ve done before.
What is something you still hope to accomplish?
I hope to work with my dance colleagues to both present and bring quality dance to metro area audiences! I am currently working on some outreach plans that involve our EDD dancers in workshops settings with GLBTQ youth and young women. I would like to complete our board of directors so EDD can become a 501c3 organization. And in my wildest dreams, my position as an artistic director would be a full-time one, with a salary. I hope to continue to cultivate the resources to bring this into being. Along with this, I want to be able to pay our company dancers a living wage. Paying our dancers is very important to me. I think, as dancers, it would behoove us to all understand our value and break the habit of undervaluing ourselves and what we do.
Tell us something about your creative process.
My creative process is just that…a process. I try different approaches, as the dancers to do different things from one rehearsal to the next, and work on begin able to edit as an artist. Not everything makes it onto the stage and I love to experiment with the cast to find the best and most interesting versions of things. Sometimes I use my own movement phrases and sometimes I give a lot of verbal cues and ask the cast to respond to them with movement, which I then piece into a phrase of dance. We also do a fair amount of workshopping in rehearsal, where there might not be any set dance involved. In these instances, we might use theatre or improvisational exercise to further explore our topic. This provides me with more and more food for thought when it comes to crafting the final product.
Who is your favorite dance company or dancer? Why?
Picking just one favorite dance company or dancer is a challenge! Different artists bring different qualities to the table and I’m drawn to people for different reasons. I’ve been a long-time fan of Bill T. Jones for his vision and courage as an artist, tackling subject matter that is difficult or taboo. I love the work of Alexandra Beller for her interesting and unique movement style and also for her unabashed acceptance of all bodies as dancerly. I find Faye Driscoll’s work provocative and boundary-pushing. I also admire local choreographer Patrick Mueller for his artistic passion and choreographic depth. Denver folks reading this blog should definitely check out his work! These are all choreographic artists. When it comes to a favorite dancer, I fall in love with the dancer who gives him/herself up for the dance, is willing to be vulnerable without pretense, doesn’t mind being ugly, is willing to throw themselves at another human being and believes they’ll be caught, isn’t too proud to take class because they know that they’ll can’t ever stop growing, and comes to the table with energy and passion that is palpable and shameless. Oh, and I love a moster skills technician who isn’t afraid to throw it all away but knows when and how to use it!
What do you do in your spare time?
In the spare time I can carve out of my schedule, I enjoy cooking. I think what we put into our bodies as humans is very important if we expect them to function well, so I find exploring new recipes and creating in this way is really fun and satisfying! So many dancers (And humans) don’t know how the relationship between the body and food works! It is something we, as a body of artist AND as a planet of people should take the responsibility to learn for ourselves!
Tell us something funny about yourself.
I cannot roller skate. I never learned as a child and now I don’t have much of a chance or reason to skate, so I have never learned.
Anything else you want to say?
One of the things I adore about Denver and the metro is the overwhelming potential to be an arts mecca of the west! This city has some of the greatest venues, most amazing artists, and wonderful people. I have felt, for the past few years, that I’m standing with my artist colleagues on the precipice of a boom in Colorado artistic growth and offering. I’m very excited for the moment when we all take that last step over the edge and fill this city with some amazing works and support each others’ efforts but also push each others’ boundaries a bit. As a community of artists, I think we have so much more power and voice than we know. And as an overall community, I think there is a hunger for amazing, fresh, new art. We are all willing to seek it out in places like New York or San Francisco. I’m excited for the moment when the masses of our continent flock to arts openings and are overheard saying,” Yeah, but have you seen what they are doing in Denver right now?! You HAVE to see it!”