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August 26, 2008

Profile - Beth Rodriguez - Postmodern Dancer

Submitted Photo
Submitted Photo

If necessity is the mother of invention, then where does innovation lie on the spectrum? For postmodern dancer Beth Rodriguez, 31, it’s in cooking dinner, turning on the shower or simply fooling around. 

  “I dance probably every day around the house,” says Rodriguez, who started as a youngster at the University of Louisville Dance Academy. “It was just this thing that I sort of liked to do.”

Rodriguez ended up with a bachelor’s in dance and a master’s in dance education, which she used to teach dance at Groove With Me, a youth development organization for women in Harlem, N.Y., and Hospital Audiences Inc., a nonprofit that brings the arts to people with special needs. 

Rodriguez explains her dance style as experimental, contemporary and site-specific: “Sometimes you can be influenced by the architecture. You can try to mimic those shapes (seen at the site).”

While she visits her dance sites prior to performances, Rodriguez allows her dancing to be affected by real time and often improvises. She often uses previously recorded and modified music, as well as some pieces written especially for her. 

Influenced by postmodern dance pioneer Yvonne Rainer and choreographer Doug Varone, whose dancing she describes as energetic and dangerous, Rodriguez worked for almost a decade in New York before debuted in Louisville with Moving Collective in January 2007. 

“The modern dance scene is growing in the middle of the country,” she says. “It’s definitely not just in New York anymore.”

While in Louisville, Rodriguez began teaching adult movement classes, as well as choreographing and performing works through Beth Rodriguez Dance Projects, an open-door dance company — that is, dancers may come and go as they please.

While she moves between New York and Louisville, her latest dance series, “Point of Contact” — a trio performing to music by Louisville artist Rob Collier (of Century of Aeroplanes) — showcases Rodriguez’s work in free, monthly public showings around town.

Postmodern dance is an effort to reconnect with audiences outside of a theater, she says. It’s about experimentation and the creation process, which is, it would seem, the mother of something else entirely. —Caitlin Bowling