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Art & Life with Denna Thomsen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Denna Thomsen.

Denna, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I started dancing in Omaha, Nebraska on my living room table while “Beat It” by Michael Jackson played in the background. This was the moment my mother put me in dance class. Learning dance was my passion and escape from reality, I went to receive my Bachelor of Arts from Colorado State in 2007. During my time in college, I highly focused on the art of ballet, modern, and jazz and learned the importance of narrative story telling through movement. This is where I made a choice about my artistry: the story is more important than the movement. While my classmates were searching for which professional company they would audition for on the east coast of the United States, I felt drawn to audition for Hysterica Dance Company, based in California, under the Direction of Kitty McNamee and Co-Direction of Ryan Heffington.

On St. Patrick’s Day in 2007, I flew out to my first ever audition, got a place in the company, and would have my first performance at the Ford Amphitheater. Holy hell! This was a huge pivotal point in my career because this company and the members in it have shaped who I am as an artist today. During my Hysterica rehearsals, Kitty McNamee broke me out of my shell, challenging me with the physical and mental boundaries of the human condition. It was the raddest experience I have ever been through! For the first time, I felt free. This is where I also met Ryan Heffington and began a lifelong friendship and soon after mentorship. From this point, it’s all history. All it took was one person to believe in me; to say you! you’re the one I’ve been looking for. Without Kitty McNamee and Ryan Heffington, I wouldn’t be here.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Dance should not be a series of movement for trick’s sake.

I make stories from the movement because the narrative is most important. The human experience is the most amazing thing to witness and I want to be able to touch souls with my art. I want my audience to feel a connection between the performer and their identity.

My work comes from a very personal place that involves collaboration from the dancers involved.

We talk about the human experience: does it make sense for you to do this movement? What would you do differently? Why? It’s all about exploring the opportunities to learn which movement best fits the story. The audience needs to be able to connect or else it’s flat.

If I don’t feel the sense of danger within my work, I failed.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
Because of social media, dance is everywhere and you can’t distinguish who from what genre anymore. The online platform has made it easy for anyone to get recognition, which in turn, has been a great thing for those individuals. On the other hand, it’s hard to distinguish real talent through a tiny screen especially when 12-17 year olds are your demographic. What these children aren’t realizing is that some of these “choreographers” haven’t worked on set a day of their life, they have no experience working with a major artist, and don’t really have the tools to guide them towards successful, sustainable dance career. Babies shouldn’t be teaching babies.

How do you support?
Do your research.
Know your history.
Ask questions.
Don’t follow the crowd.
Go watch live events.
Study the greats.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I am the Co-Founder of CONGRESS, a salon collective serving as a platform for cross-genre dance artists to share their work in an intimate environment inspiring discussion, audience expansion, and positively strengthening our community at large. You can visit for more information.

Social Media Platform @dennathomsen @legalizedance.

Represented by BLOC Talent Agency, Echo Lake Management, MAAVVEN.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @dennathomsen
  • Other: @legalizedance

Image Credit:

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