If you have attended a Dance Canvas Performance Series in the past few years, chances are you have seen the work of Britt Whitmoyer Fishel. A distinct voice in the Atlanta dance community, Britt has presented works with Dance Canvas in 2015, 2016, and 2018, as well as with her resident company, Atlanta Dance Collective. Her work features film, projection and multi-media as an extension of her choreography.
Recently, Fishel moved to Philadelphia, PA to pursue a new phase of life as a member of the Dance Faculty of Bryn Mawr College, and Drexel University. Her work from the “Distaff Series; The Ewe and the Mare” was featured at this years 2019 Women in Dance Leadership Conference at Drexel University.
We caught up with Britt to chat about what life has been like for her since her move and what’s up next on her plate:
Tell us about your new position!
“Since moving to Philadelphia, I have joined the Dance Faculty at Bryn Mawr College, and Drexel University. At BMC, they were looking to add Screendance to their curriculum, and so I was able to help them write and get the course approved. It was an easy decision to pursue that path, as the marriage of dance and technology is an important and large part of my research and practice. I additionally am teaching modern technique this year at BMC. At Drexel, I am teaching Jazz technique this year; both opportunities seemed serendipitous.”
How has your transition into the Pennsylvania Dance Scene been?
“It has been a purposely slow transition. Even after moving in June, I came back to Atlanta for a week-long gallery exhibit at The Bakery. I felt I was in between two places, and even after that was finished, my focus was on presenting research at Dance Studies Association’s Annual Conference at Northwestern University in August. It’s only been since September that I’ve felt I had the time to get myself and my family settled in PA, and get organized with my teaching schedule.
That being said, teaching alongside so many active dance artists in Philadelphia has been an easy entrance point into the community, and the coveted PhillyFringe was pretty much the entire month of September, and boasts dozens of dance shows. It was a great launching point to re-immerse myself into a community, and get a sense of what is going on in the city.
We saw that you may re-stage Distaff; is that for a specific project?
“A couple of my dancers have coined the hashtag #DistaffForever, which has shifted from endearing to foreshadowing. My research over the last couple of seasons has been fluid. Even now, while I am working on new material entitled GRIN, it’s essentially a continuation and response to Distaff; It’s all connected. So yes, Distaff will live on this year. An excerpt of it has been selected for Koresh’s Come Together Dance Festival in November. It has to be reworked for the excerpt, however I am happy to be using some original dancers for this performance. In May, Distaff and GRIN will bridge together as an evening length work at The Performance Garage, here in Philadelphia.”
“…while I am working on new material entitled GRIN, it’s essentially a continuation and response to Distaff; It’s all connected. So yes, Distaff will live on this year.”
What is your favorite part of your new position(s)?
“Helping the next generation of movers and thinkers discover new ways of approaching dance, through technique, composition, and the screen, is incredibly thrilling. Merging my creative practice with my pedagogical practice is personally rewarding. I love listening their conversations and their processes. I learn just as much in space from them, as they are hopefully learning from me. It’s important to realize the value of everyone’s insight, and as educators it’s our job to help mold the tools they already possess, while adding more to the toolbox along the way.”
Do you feel that this change of scenery has inspired/changed your process at all?
“Of course this relocation has and will continue to change my process. As artists, we are ever evolving, and living in Philadelphia, engaging a different community, will effect who I collaborate with, and the opportunities that are provided within the scope of the work. That being said, I have learned over my many years that when you find dancers who are enthusiastic about your research and process, you don’t let them go. You want to work as hard as you can for your dancers, as they want to work for you. I will be working in collaboration with artists, not only in Philadelphia, but in Atlanta and New York City this season, which will be a change from previous years. My process remains extremely collaborative and I am looking forward to adding in the new voices. “
Do you have any advice to impart upon our new choreographers for the 2019/20 Dance Canvas season?
“As you are in process, journal as much as possible. Read as much as possible. It will help you find your voice, and the root of what you want to say through your work and research. There are times where you think you may be saying on thing, but in the process and journey of the research, it has changed. THAT IS OKAY. I am a big believer in process over product, and that the strongest product comes from an even stronger process. Contribute in feedback sessions, and receive the feedback. Talking about the work with others, and having outside eyes on the work in process can aid tremendously. Be generous with your dancers; they are working hard for you and your vision! “
For more on Britt, visit her website https://www.brittfishel.com/ or follow her social media below!
*Dance shots by Meagan Nicole Photography
** Distaff Series shot by Lizzie Baker