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.


Mentions: 029 Part One of What I learned from 40 years of not being famous

This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox! This episode was recorded at the ASBX home studio. Artist Soapbox theme music by Bart Matthews.

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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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If you have feedback, questions, suggestions, please email artistsoapbox@gmail.com. FEEDBACK IS EVERYTHING TO ASBX.


Artist Soapbox

Artist Soapbox is a platform for original scripted audio fiction and an opportunity for artists to discuss their creative work in their own voices. We do this through our interview podcast, our blog, live events, and original audio dramas.

Artist Soapbox is an anti-racist organization. We believe Black Lives Matter. In addition, as a podcast production company, ASBX has signed the Equality in Audio Pact on Broccoli Content.

Artist Soapbox is more than just a podcast.

We lead writers groups, accountability support, workshops, and events. We produce and create audio dramas too! Listen to the Master BuilderThe New Colossus Audio Drama, Jesus Pancake, Declaration of Love, Food for Thought, and ASBX Shorts. Stay tuned to hear about more projects written by the Soapbox Audio Collective Writers’ Group.

Audio Dramas

Jesus (1400 × 1400 px)-2

Jesus Pancake

Jesus Pancake is the newest scripted audio fiction series from Artist Soapbox. Nine episodes of zany dark comedy.


The New Colossus

The New Colossus Audio Drama is a totally unhinged dark comedy reboot of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE SEAGULL.


Master Builder

This audio drama was adapted from Tamara’s 2018 stage play produced by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and inspired by Henrick Ibsen’s classic, The Master Builder published in 1892.


Declaration of Love

Co-producers Aurelia Belfield and Tamara Kissane of Artist Soapbox commissioned eleven NC playwrights to craft short audio scenes based on the prompt “Declaration of Love.”


Food for Thought

Three pilot episodes of new scripted audio fiction series inspired by the prompt Food for Thought.


ASBX Shorts

ASBX Shorts are six short audio fiction pieces created and produced by North Carolina artists. Artist Soapbox Shorts were specifically contributed by the artists to aid in fundraising and to get everyone excited about Jesus Pancake, our new audio fiction series in development.

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