Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexsa Durrans.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Alexsa. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
In my most specific and oldest memories of myself I was always concerned with space and how people moved in it. I was the kid in dance class that would get so annoyed when the others couldn’t understand how to create a straight line or space themselves out evenly on stage. I was also obsessed with parking structures – how cars move about, what/why/which spot my mom would choose to park in, and how all the cars funnel in and out of the space, it was so cool to me! I always just saw the big image of what was being translated in terms of how objects and bodies spatially relate to each other on stage – I didn’t realize that was a specific skill set or even useful until much much later in my life when I was at UCLA getting my B.A. in Dance.
When I was in college my understanding of how dance and movement enacts so much community-based work and embodied knowledge sparked this fire in me, like oh ya – this can be something, a tool per say, for me to navigate this space. Choreography became a connector for me – to the politics of the body, specifically of my body, and to expression and joy. Meeting this moment was really important for me, it was when I realized that formalizing a practice in movement was a mode in which I wanted to operate in this world. It seems to me that where I am at is an accumulation of ideas and skillsets that I have understood to work for myself and the people I work with.
Has it been a smooth road?
Structurally it was very unclear for me how I could create dance once I graduated. The logistics of space and time and of course money were so overwhelming- and I know most artist feel similarly. For a while it felt as if I was just treading water – taking jobs here and there, choreographing solos in group shows, and making my own work when I could. Looking back, those years that I perceived to be stagnant were actually me building this huge foundation of understanding and community that I see very clearly now. It’s not that I had a blind faith in what I was doing, I was very much questioning what choices I was making and why. There are always moments along the way, like little landing points, where I was able to say to myself okay yes, this is working, assess, and continue on.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am continually searching for new language to describe my practice and what I feel “I do”. I use the word practice because it is ever-evolving and very integrated into the life I wish to construct around me. I am a choreographer, dancer and producer. I facilitate spaces for other body-based movers, healers and creatives to build their practices. I am co-curator of HI SOLO Series, a bi annual dance evening that features Los Angeles based movers and also the annual art and performance show Weekend at Berenice.
My collaborator, Miles Brenninkmeijer, and I have created space in our home by way of building a stage in our yard – this space is offered to our peers for rehearsal use, class offerings, and performance. This process is still new, but I think our goal with this shared space offering is an acknowledgment of the value of space for dancers and the monetary constraints we face. Our specific choice to share resources is an attempt to decentralize the idea that dance has to be created within certain parameters.
I think what I do is unique in this community- but it’s also a practice that I have built with so much guidance. I spent a lot of years listening and experiencing how other community leaders structure their time and spaces and I have been very lucky to have incredible mentors. I see a need for physical space to connect. Where can we sit and have these conversations? Where can people develop their practice? At the end of the day it makes a lot of sense for me to be doing this – it is deeply fulfilling for me to connect my friendships and partnerships with the work that I create.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I think Los Angeles is a phenomenal place to be – I have been here for seven years and of course have had my ups and downs. I think this city (specifically pertaining to dance) has so much literal space, that is allows for a lot of creative space. Like anything, it takes a huge time investment – the more you give to your community the more you build yourself into foundational support.
It excites me to see what work (creative and structural) is being supported in Los Angeles right now. The breadth of ideas and collaborations is so unique to this city and I like to think that the movers of this city are committed to building networks and structures that are genuine to how Los Angeles dance and performance functions. I think if we continue to do so we can grow our platforms and support structures for dance in LA.