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Ohio University > Fine Arts > Dance > What's Happening > Alumni Profile: Megan Pitcher

Alumni Profile: Megan Pitcher

Alumni Profile: Megan Pitcher

Feb 20, 2015

An interview with Ohio University BFA Dance Alum, Megan Pitcher, Artistic Director of Meglouise Dance

Is the dance education you received at Ohio University helpful in your current life? What aspect of the program did you find most beneficial in creating your own career?

I am still impressed by the technical foundations of dance training that OU provided. It has supported me well, even through changing aesthetics, new markets, and changes in my training regime. I learned how to learn. (Find in points, pick up stylistic differences, quickly memorize new material. . .) Ever since, I have made that my goal in teaching. No matter what course, studio or theory - I make sure students have that tool.

Creating my career had much more to do with confidence, daring, persistence, patience, and resilience. I didn't learn those things at OU, but the program reinforced the importance of the work and encouraged me to contribute. I was fortunate to teach non-majors classes and workshops before graduating. That experience allowed me to pursue similar opportunities. I was part of The Movement as secretary and president. The experience organizing, planning and producing was valuable. I also took advantage of every opportunity to present work. That supported me later in self-producing, touring and such.

 

How do you maintain your career in dance? Do you supplement your job as artistic director with other jobs or professions?

I have had many soul searching moments thinking about job / career / work. In the end, I identify as an artist and choose to not tie that valuable profession to monetary outcomes. (Instead I set and strive for non monetary goals.) So, I maintain my dance career by making bold new works, challenging the form of dance itself, participating in national and global conversations about dance, and sharing my work through various platforms.

Living as an artist is difficult in this country in the current socio- political state. I have made money through teaching (university adjunct, arts centers, workshops, residencies in schools, and studio), commissions, and running arts programs. Many of those "jobs" are included under the umbrella of MegLouise, though some are paid employment. I have supported the work with grants, residencies, individual donations, ticket sales, presenting stipends, and the like. (Lots of applications for things)

 

When viewing your work I noticed that many of your works are multimedia. Do you have any advice regarding the creation of multimedia works?

I began investigating dance and tech while at OU. I did extensive work as a costume designer, participated in the creation of several dance films, held production positions including those with Troika Ranch, explored making my own dance films, and participated in a virtual classroom contact improv exchange with Chris Aiken.

I realized after some years of professional work that my interest in breaking conventions, new dance methodologies, and the proliferation of media in society were related. Almost ten years after graduating from OU, I went back to school for an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts & Media. I was already experimenting with mixing mediums (movement and textiles, movement and video, also other things), but Columbia essentially quadrupled my skill set. I returned to working with Isadora (though it had progressed far past my earlier work), learned to program in MAX MSP processing, and experimented with other interactive media. I was fortunate to be learning those skills while having the time to apply them to my studio practice. I also worked with sound art, wearable etextiles, experimental film, and other new media approaches.

This is a long answer to explain that I consider my work to be interdisciplinary. It does not start or end with dance, though always includes movement as a medium. I use these new media approaches to address deeply personal and social issues.

I have taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Media Performance and have a lot of advice. Too much? Maybe. In brief:

I caution against using media just to use media. To be fair, it is the same as cautioning against using handstand just to use a handstand. I believe art should be crafted and considered. The medium should serve the purpose; drive the content.

I caution against the trappings of skill-set (In media and in dance). I urge artists to consider first what they are trying to make and develop the skills to serve their purpose, rather than making what they can based on their current abilities. For example: Sometimes dancers learn how to do overlays in a video editing program and then all of their dance films include them. Habits should not be confused with aesthetics.

I urge artists to consider DIY methods and simple solutions. We may not always have access to the highest quality projector or the right equipment and so a piece that demands those things will have more limited presenting options. Sometimes the same ideas can be achieved through more accessible media.

 

As an artistic director of a dance company how do you advertise your company and create an interest within the general public? Do you find that installations, collaboration, and multi media works interest a wider range of people?

Well considered collaborations are great for gaining a broader audience base. I carefully consider venues and workshops as tools for building. It helps to be connected to a community and to have many ways to interact with a work - live, online, in workshop.

I do present work in galleries as a visual artist. That has a very different demographic of viewers, but also different aesthetics and history. I wouldn't encourage dancers to begin gallery presentations of concert work just to build audience. However, some work demands a more fluid, agonistic space.

I think the best way to promote is to have a well articulated artistic voice and to be known for that. Finding others who do similar work helps so you can cross promote. Being part of a wave or a movement builds wide interest. Unfortunately, there are some incredible artists that will never have a wide appeal.

 

What do you find most rewarding about being a dance professional? 

Yikes. So many things.

I'm addicted to physicality and convinced that it has become even more sacred considering it is less present in our contemporary society. I am blessed to move every day, to continually find new physical challenges, and to share that practice.

I can never hold a "job" that does not include moving. I love variety and thrive on new experiences, so I wouldn't do well in a traditional business setting. This work has flexibility and also consideration for humanity.

It is an honor to make and share my work. I am humbled by every opportunity and eternally thankful. I also love learning about and experiencing the great work of others. Being an artist means that I have to stay up with current developments.

I love teaching and supporting other artists on their artistic path. Similar to that physical addiction, I really love bodies. I get geeky about them, how they work, and the opportunities they provide. 

 
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