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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

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Visiting Dance Professor Nathan Andary: The curiosity of a creator [VIDEO]


"I'm a mover at heart," said Nathan Andary, visiting professor at the Ohio University School of Dance

He speaks in a soft voice, occasionally dropping to a whisper. There is little bravado in his voice. His unmistakable charisma flows from his body. His true voice is dance. Andary constantly moves his hands and arms in his own artistic sign language, illustrating each elaborate idea.

As a boy growing up in Kentucky, Andary was perpetually active. He played the French horn and participated in baseball and basketball. 

His father was an artist and his mother was a doctor, and their careers influenced Andary's future calling. In 6th grade, his father planted the seed of dance in the young boy's life, as he encouraged him to enroll in classes. 

"It was an odd thing but wonderful at the same time, not knowing any better I said sure," said Andary. 

Little did he know, dance would capture his heart and project him into a career of diverse and rich performance experiences and in-depth study of movement, all of which he would later pass on to aspiring dance students at Ohio University.  

In high school he planned to be a physical therapist: the logical blending of his love of organic and biological chemistry and his background in movement. However, after 200 contact hours as a physical therapy assistant, it was clear that he was on the wrong path. Andary came to Ohio University to study dance. 

"I came here to college and it all kind of came together, through the dance program, I got to move, I got to be inquisitive, I got to learn more about the body," said Andary. "I couldn't get enough. I couldn't get enough," he repeats. "It was the perfect match."

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in dance in 1999, he set off to obtain the career he was groomed for. He danced with the Salt Lake City Ballet, worked in a dance repertory company, performed the avant- garde Japanese dance form, Butoh, and in 2001, he started his own company, Andary Dance. 

"It started off very simply. I wanted to make my own dances because I wanted to explore. I wanted to try something new. In doing so I wanted to see how the dance making practice related to other art forms," said Andary. 

The explorative and interdisciplinary company has created pieces where dancers interacted with commissioned works of art such as a 10-foot-tall neon sculpture by Josh Wexner and three 30-foot shape oriented paintings by Antonio Peters. His choreography has utilized the concepts of collaboration, exploration and the relationship between dance and other art forms. 

Constantly touring with his company and others, his curious spirit led him back to school. After performing in New York he decided to move there and attend the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. He received his certification in movement analysis. Laban Movement Analysis is a way of understanding the body’s architecture and its relationship to space. 

"Our organs move three dimensionally; we need to access that through our breath — breathing into the backspace, trust with our ears, sense the air through or felt ability of the skin and its molecular interaction with the air," said Andary. "This kind of working process deepens the awareness, sensitivity, and the students’ explorations to a much deeper level."

In 2012, his study of the body, movement and artistic creation led him back to Ohio University. As a visiting professor, Andary teaches Laban Movement Analysis, introduction to pedagogy and a non-major modern dance class. 

"As a certified movement analyst, he brings a distinct approach to the delivery of his courses that is interesting, challenging and fun all at the same time," said Travis Gatling, director of the School of Dance. "He plays a very pivotal role in our students' learning experience, as his approach to teaching aligns with the current trends in dance."

His goal as a professor is to impart two main ideas to his students: to be explorative and to embrace instability in order to find stability. 

"I like that he doesn't give set answers to things. He is exploring and figuring it out with you, taking the experience that he has with whatever knowledge that we have and creating a vision together," said junior dance major, Kristopher Terry. 

Andary's limitless explorations have led him full circle, teaching the very classes that enlivened him as an artist and fostering discovery for himself and his students. 

"Keep moving, the moment you stop moving is the moment you stop thinking and you stop generating questions. Move to question and question to move because a question is about movement," said Andary. "A question has instability about it. Isn't that beautiful? I love that."