056: Failure or success? Choreographer Anna Barker invites audiences in through humor and the human experience

Who determines your success? What does failure mean to you? Choreographer and dancer Anna Barker has been playing with those questions for the last 5 years to create original dance-theatre performances interrogating our relationship to success and failure. We discuss Anna’s creation process and style, how she makes modern dance accessible to audiences, and what’s next on the horizon — including translating dance into film!

Anna Barker is a choreographer and performer based in Durham, North Carolina. After spending 10 years dancing in Philadelphia and New York City, Anna relocated back to her hometown and founded her dance theater company real.live.people with collaborator Leah Wilks. Since then, Anna has created and produced three evening-length works in Durham: it’s not me it’s you in 2014, Feature Presentation in 2016 and Again, but this time with feeling in 2018. Anna is the recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council’s Fellowship for 2018-2019. Anna has presented work as part of the American Dance Festival, Duke Performances, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, APAP NYC, The North Carolina Dance Festival, WAXworks at Triskelion Arts (Brooklyn), and at Elsewhere Collaborative, The Haw River Ballroom, The Carrack Modern Art Gallery, the Durham Arts Council, the Carrboro ArtsCenter, The Living Arts Collective, Dance New Amsterdam (Manhattan), and the New York Film School (Manhattan). Anna is a freelance choreographer and movement consultant, and teaches Pilates locally at Bull City Pilates and Massage and at Ninth Street Dance.


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Time break-down:

[0:00] Episode intro and Anna’s bio.

[3:24] Keeping people engaged in modern dance: Anna tells us why, and how.

[7:43] Anna describes experimenting with multi-media and humor in her dance-theatre pieces

[13:01] Mid-performance discussions and push back from the purists

[16:02] How Anna keeps the integrity of her work

[18:52] Why does Anna keep returning to the topics of “success” and “failure” as themes for her work?

[25:43] What led Anna from “taking a break” to creating her own work.

[30:37] Anna shares her personal definition of “success”, her thoughts on who determines success, and her process

[41:18] Failure in public vs. failure in private

[50:07] How Anna plans to use  her North Carolina Arts Council fellowship to create a dance film

[55:56] What work does Anna have planned for 2019?

[58:30] Thanks and sign-off

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