VETERAN OF MOVEMENT
“The Hannah Kahn Dance Company has been sharing its passion for dance with the Denver community since 1988.” This statement says so much about the rich history and commitment this modern dance company brings to the Denver dance scene and how significant its contributions are. Hannah Kahn is the company’s founder, artistic director, and choreographer. When asked why she wanted to show work at the Presenting Denver Dance Festival, Kahn expressed a desire to work amongst other artists. “It is easy to be isolated,” she acknowledged, referring to usually creating work in her own space. Kahn was excited to see the variety of dance within the festival in terms of genres, choreography, and music choices.
At the Presenting Denver Dance Festival Master Class and Preview Performance on March 17th, Kahn and her company members presented five small sections of the developing full-length work to be performed at the festival this summer. Kahn found the music early on in the process; this was fortunate, as it took some time to gain rights to the music from the owner in Germany. Kahn’s choreography process is anchored by the dancers’ application of her unique, physical style. Utilizing a more traditional style of dance, Kahn sets the movement but allows and encourages her dancers to be “creative within the limits I give them.” The pieces highlighted the dancers’ technical ability as they moved fluidly as an ensemble in the jumps and shifting formations. Kahn’s early training of Graham, Limon, and Duncan was evident in her work and the dancers executed the style beautifully.
Dance is how Kahn’s life has been structured. At the young age of 68, Kahn was very much present in this master class. She guided participants through her vigorous phrase work with “mmbop, bop, huhs” and words of encouragement. Although she admits that a dancer’s life is not the easiest to uphold, financially and physically speaking, she still has a passion and desire to teach and choreograph. When describing the effect of dance on the audience she likens dance to poetry; not all of it is meant for everybody. She admits her style might not be flashy enough for all viewers, and believes in order to appreciate the work the viewer needs to have a kinesthetic connection with it. The effectiveness of teaching her unique style to the younger dancers through demonstration, executing the movement on both the right and left, using specific wording to get the dancer where they need to go, is evidence of Kahn’s extensive performance and teaching experience.
When Kahn speaks to and about her company members it is clear that she highly respects and appreciates them, both as individuals and artists. Kahn is well aware of the financial demand that has been set on these artists in the Denver community over the past several years. She completely understands that the dedication artists bring to dance is not often compensated by a living wage. She is extremely grateful for the time and commitment these dancers bring to her company, and it shows. Come witness this company’s unique movement style and dedication to their artistry at the Presenting Denver Dance Festival in June!
Sutton Anker currently lives in her hometown of Littleton, Colorado. Her love of dance took root at a young age when she began dancing at a local studio. This passion grew and carried through into college and beyond. Sutton earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance Science from the University of Wyoming, followed by a Master’s of Science in Dance Science from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. Her technical training is in ballet, release technique, Horton, modern, tap, jazz, vertical dance, hip-hop, pointe, and functional fitness. Throughout her B.F.A. at UW, Sutton performed in various productions including From the Ashes: A Cinderella Ballet, Duet and Power/Full (a Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company production), The Nutcracker, Boxed Set, and Six Songs from Ellis.
Sutton has a keen interest in motor learning, motor development, and pedagogical techniques, taking several kinesiology classes in her undergraduate and graduate programs. Sutton has presented at several dance science conferences, including the 2010 Performing Arts Medical Association Conference (Specific Stretching for Individual Needs), the 2013 International Association of Dance Medicine and Science Conference (Effect of Mirrors on Dancers’ Ability to Learn Movement), and the 2016 International Association of Dance Medicine and Science Conference in Hong Kong (Master’s thesis – An Investigation of the Pedagogical Rationales for Current Mirror Use in a Ballet Technique Class).
Sutton currently works at Foothills Park and Recreation District in Children’s Programs. She has a passion for empowering kids’ creativity and educating youth on physical and mental health. Sutton continues to engage in dance by teaching at local studios, participating in classes and workshops, volunteering with Presenting Denver, and pursuing her research interests.