Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather VonReichbauer.
Heather, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I always loved dancing and jumping around. I inherited a pair of old tap shoes from my aunt and I was off to the races. I believe that I made such a racket at home that I was enrolled in dance classes at 3 years old. I loved dancing, but what really interested me was making dances. As a child, I spent hours in my room dancing to albums and creating dances. I remember one particularly stunning number with a top hat and cane performed to Taco’s version of Puttin’ on the Ritz. As an 80’s kid, I grew up with the birth of music videos, Fame, Dirty Dancing, Flashdance, and Electric Boogaloo. I watched hours of MTV and learned the choreography to all the Janet Jackson videos. My dream was to be the next Paula Abdul. I couldn’t think of a better career than being a professional choreographer. I never thought of pursuing a college degree in dance until I had a visit on Ed-Op day from a small liberal arts college about 3 hours from my hometown. It was during my time at Coker College that I was introduced to modern dance. The program was very small at the time and I got to create work for the dance concert every semester. I gained a love and appreciation for the modern dance genre and watching works by these dance pioneers really made me want to be a maker. I pursued my graduate degree at The University of North Carolina Greensboro and got my Master of Fine Arts in Choreography.
As an adult, I spent most of my life as a freelance artist. I lived in NC before moving to Texas and wore many hats as an arts administrator, adjunct faculty member, and freelance choreographer. My love of jazz dance paid off tremendously as a freelancer in NC where I got a lot of gigs choreographing musicals. In fact, I met my future husband when I was choreographing “Rent” and he was playing in the pit.
In 2012, I relocated to Houston for work and began a new adventure in Texas. I am currently an adjunct faculty member at Houston Community College and Artistic Director of Bones and Memory Dance. I never imagined I would be living in Texas, but the Houston dance community is great. My work has been presented at Mind the Gap, 254-Dancefest, Barnstorm Dance Festival, Choreographers x6, Houston Community College, and Houston Fringe Festival. I am a former Artist in Residence with Dance Source Houston and most recently created an original evening length work based on the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe entitled “Madness, Memories, and Woe” that premiered at MATCH this past spring. I am excited to see what new opportunities will emerge in 2019!
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a choreographer and storyteller. I am an avid reader and I draw inspiration from books. I really enjoy weaving together a narrative using movement, music, and text. I tend to be drawn to the macabre and gothic stories. I love Shirley Jackson, Agatha Christie, horror movies, true crime stories, and am obsessed with My Favorite Murder podcast.
In 2016, I created a work inspired by Appalachian murder ballads that are a large part of the culture in NC. Last spring, I created an original work inspired by the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe and will be premiering a new work in January about Lizzie Borden. I love to dig into the lives of real life and fictional characters to bring these people and ideas to life on the stage. I love the theatrical marriage of movement and story.
I hope that people viewing my work are entertained and take away a new piece of knowledge about the story that I am sharing. I want them to see the importance of making art a part of their lives and encourage them to seek it out.
In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
I think two of the biggest challenges for artists are lack of funding and being asking to work for “exposure.” Dance is one of the most underfunded art forms and a lot of dancers end up working for free. I find myself self-funding most of my projects, so I must be savvy and responsible about my budget and spending. As a choreographer, it is important to me that I pay my dancers for performances. It may not be what they are worth, but I want them to know they are valued and appreciated.
Artists should not be expected to work for free or for “exposure.” We need to value an artist’s talent and time the way we value people in other career fields. Artists can’t pay their bills with exposure.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I am premiering a new work in Dance Source Houston’s Mind the Gap on January 15th at MATCH. Pretty Pears All in A Row is inspired by one of my favorite figures, Lizzie Borden. It centers around the part that pears played in Borden’s alibi.
The best way to support my work and learn about new projects is to follow Bones and Memory Dance on Instagram and Facebook. You can also visit the website to get more information on upcoming performances.
- Website: www.bonesandmemorydance.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/bonesandmemorydance/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bonesandmemorydance/
Amy Smith and Pin Lim