Today we’d like to introduce you to Simon Schuh.
Simon, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Coming from a football-crazed town such as Green Bay, Wisconsin, there was not a lot of room nor acceptance for boys my age to pick up dancing over a sport, but that’s exactly what made my journey so special. I danced at a local studio named “Barb’s Centre for Dance” and took ballet more extensively on the side with “Green Bay School of Dance” at that time. Being a young male dancer in the area, I knew from a young age that I wanted to pursue this professionally, and was yearning for male guidance in dance. When I met one of my mentors, Brian Rabenda, I knew that the next step I wanted to take was to dance for him. At first, my mom drove me four hours to Chicago every weekend (sometimes Thursday – Monday) to make this happen. Hours of driving and spending nights in hotel rooms for me to follow my dreams was a pivotal point in my life because I knew that I wanted to make a lot of people proud of the dancing I was doing, and it fueled me to keep doing this. Sure enough, the next year we moved to Chicago and I was dancing full time under Brian Rabenda and Ahmad Simmons’ wing, receiving my dance education in the heart of a city thriving of arts exploration. Brian and Ahmad were one of the toughest yet most rewarding teachers to ever dance for, and I would not be dancing to this day if it wasn’t for their constant ability to push and cultivate my own voice in dance. Brian became a father figure in the dance world to me, and it was his constant support that made me realize my dreams of dance were shifting. I realized in high school that I wanted to dance in the concert world post-college graduation, and soon went to the Chicago Academy for the Arts, where I could take my academics during the day, and dance in the afternoon. Randy Duncan, Patrick Simoniello, Natalie Rast, and Deb Goodman were the four teachers who taught me ballet and modern and were instrumental on giving me the dance training and support I needed when figuring out what I wanted to do post-high school. My life took a turn when my parents moved to South Carolina, meaning that in order to finish out my dance training in Chicago, I would have to stay behind and live with a host family — who turned out to be the amazing DesLaurier’s. If it wasn’t for them, a lot of my dreams would have stalled short and I wouldn’t be able to continue on the path I was taking. Having my dad in Green Bay and my mom in South Carolina also gave me immense independence and I grew up pretty quickly. Having another set of strong male figures in the dance world like Patrick and Randy was a blessing in my life, as they taught me what it meant to be a strong male-identifying dancer in the field and advocated for excellence in my trajectory post-high school. I cannot thank them and everyone else at that high school enough as it opened me up a world that I never would have seen if I stayed in Green Bay. With all the help along the way, I was accepted into the University of Southern California’s (USC) Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, under the direction of William Forsythe and Jodie Gates. I currently am there today.
We’d love to hear more about your work. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Being a performer for all my dance training, I never got the chance to choreograph until my senior year of high school, where I had to create a senior piece. I had such a talented group of dancers to work with so I quickly realized how much I enjoyed it and wanted to further this experience at USC. However, when I got to USC, choreographing became a therapeutic way to display what I was going through. Choreographing gave me this agency that I wanted, and I knew that a lot of my choreographic outlet was a form of storytelling. I became interested in showing audiences raw, visceral emotion paired with intense physicality to bring my pieces to life. I was fascinated with constant forms of partnerships, character development, and poetry, to try and shed light on the hardships/injustices of life that can connect us all to one another. I want to bridge the gap between viewing my work from an artistic lens and an innate human lens so that everyone who watches my work can relate to it on the same emotional level. Ever since watching the Paris Opera Ballet do a site-specific work titled “Frontier,” at the Palais Garner, I have been interested in creating site-specific galleries, bringing visual art to life. This is where I would take paintings and sculptures that resonated with me from different art galleries/museums and use those pieces to become performance art inspired, placed within a gallery itself. My wish is to have my pieces be displaced in multiple locations so that concert dance does not have to live in a theater setting and can reach multitudes of audiences worldwide. I also wish to dance extensively and perform with companies that are either in the USA or Europe.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
My advice for other artists is actually what William Forsythe told me ironically outside of Trader Joe’s one afternoon. He stopped me and told me “thank you for your attention to detail. It will take you farther in your career than you will ever imagine.” Details can be applicable to all art forms and resonate with people in so many ways, so that would be my advice for other artists. I believe lessons in life come to people at pivotal moments, so I wouldn’t wish to have learned a lesson earlier because It wouldn’t be applicable to the time i was supposed to learn that lesson for myself.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
People who reside in Los Angeles can come to USC Kaufman, where multitudes of shows are dedicated to student works and collaboration shows with other artists within USC. I will also be premiering a new work in Hollywood, February 5th! Support to me is always keeping the idea of collaboration alive, so I love when people reach out to me to collaborate on new projects, or explore other areas where dance can be prevalent.
- Phone: 920-246-4608
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/schuhsimon
- Facebook: facebook.com/simonschuh
Benjamin Peralta, Madison Olszewski