Annielille Kollman began her dance training with the Ballet Philippines, then studied with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center when she moved to the United States. She is a former company member of the Dallas Black Dance Theater and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. In her 3 years of choreographing, Annielille has self-produced two shows in Richmond, Virginia and choreographed works for the Latin Ballet of Virginia and her own company, MalayaWorks Dance Theater.
Dance Canvas: Tell us about first experiences with dance.
Annielille: “I started dancing at the early age of 5. During the time of the Marcos regime in the Philippines and up until its end, my grandparents were activists. My grandmother served as mayor and my grandfather ran for congress; both fighting against the corruption of the ex-President. At that time, I was an impressionable young girl who danced during campaigns and listened to the fight for justice.”
Dance Canvas: How did you transition into your professional dance career?
Annielille: “I found it difficult to express myself and to be heard in the Philippines. As a young woman eager and impatient, I packed a suitcase and without looking back, I spread my wings and flew to New York City. I auditioned for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center to further my dance studies. Many of the techniques in the program were very new to me but the history spoken through Ailey’s works was inspiring.
After concluding my program, I joined Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. Through this company, I had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Ron Brown and Katherine Dunham to name a few. After 4 years with the company, I joined Dallas Black Dance Theater and worked with Nejla Yatkin, Nathan Trice, Christopher Huggins, Diane McIntyre and many others.”
Dance Canvas: What inspired you to start your own company?
Annielille: “I moved to Richmond, VA to plant roots with husband and daughter. I found very little opportunities in the area for me to create and dance. I started Malayaworks as a way to express and invite the community to create and dance as well. I am in the process of building a repertoire. I am making the name Malayaworks Dance Theater known.”
Dance Canvas: Are there any struggles that come with starting your own company?
Annielille: “The struggle in Richmond lies on finding dancers and finding funding. As of the moment, I rely on ticket sales and crowd funding to cover production costs. I also struggle with time management. Being a mom, a dance teacher, a choreographer, a rehearsal director, and my very own administrative staff can be overwhelming.”
Dance Canvas: What does the word “Malaya” mean?
Annielille: “Malaya, in my native language, Tagalog, means freedom, emancipated, or liberated. Most of my works are driven by social, political and economic viewpoints and my goal is to represent marginalized voices through dance.”
Dance Canvas: How would you describe your choreographing process?
Annielille: “I am usually inspired by an idea. I have statements I want to express and store those in a keepsake. Aside from ideas, I am also visually stimulated by nature. Theatrical images, art, and many others that eventually serve as metaphors.
My works are mostly conceptual. I let the ideas move me for months, day and night, constantly absorbed by the emotional feelings brought to me by an idea. I research and read about it. I ask everyday people their viewpoints.
For new works, I come in the space with an idea of the framework, movement phrases and an improvisational task that will also turn into a phrase. Giving a movement phrase lets everyone have an idea of my style. Sometimes, I give improvisational exercises which allows the group to work together and find camaraderie between the dancers. I add little bits of movement and imagery every rehearsal, slowly building the picture. Once the first draft is finished, I make changes “to tie loose ends.” I also purposely change my process because by doing so, the finished work will not look like the last one.”
Thank you, Annielille! Click the video below to see clips of Annielille’s work with MalayaWorks Dance Theater!
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