Stills from Kathleen's 2005 choreography at Kenyon College, "Small Planet, Short Day, Big Plans" (more of Kathleen's choreography below)
In 1984, I founded Performing Arts Collective in Fayetteville, Arkansas. My hope was to use low-key, highly-collaborative grass-roots methods to bring free classes and low-cost performances to an underserved community. There were previously-professional dancers, both ballet and modern, not teaching and not performing, and it just seemed a wasted resource right there in town, so I set a goal to see them teaching and performing regularly by spring 1985.
PAC offered totally free dance classes with rotating teachers, frequent brief choreographic appearances on local cable TV and at community events such as Springfest, and fully staged concert productions.
The local press regularly wrote about us, and even ran a large feature article with a photo spread during our first year. Our very first full-length concert production (spring 1985) was well-received in both Fayetteville and Eureka Springs.
In the beginning, I handled every aspect of Administration, handling scheduling, publicity, class spaces and concert venues, finances, everything. For the first concert, I was even hanging lights. I designed our "little leaper" logo, which also graced our T-shirts. I regularly taught the beginning modern dance classes, and I choreographed, composed, and performed in the concerts myself. Nine people became deeply involved in PAC, and additional musicians and dancers occasionally joined us for specific events.
Even now in 2011, Fayetteville still has Dance Coalition, whose 1996 founders included members of the old PAC!
The scanned article is hard to read, but says in part: "The Performing Arts Collective was founded by Kathy Pierson, who recognized the need for an umbrella organization to bring together area dancers and musicians, collaborating and supporting one another's creations," and then there is a mention of our ongoing free dance classes, and then:
"Although the Collective is an independent, community-based group, there will be a special performance by University of Arkansas dance faculty members, Terry Brusstar and Aubrey Watson. Also, Joe Paul and Eliza Wood of the Northwest Arkansas Hapkido Association will present a related martial arts piece."
Aubrey's choreography, in this off-campus venue, was seen by a broader-than-campus audience, and the choreographed hapkido demonstration was so beautifully done that it brought the house down.
My choreographic endeavors were first seen at University of Arkansas Fayetteville, by invitation of Dance Department Chair Terry Brusstar.
Earliest works included
I had brought from Goucher College
Heavy Traffic, High Winds... An outdoor piece repeatedly performed in front of the University of Arkansas Student Union during National Dance Week 1982, with an electronic score I had concocted on the Music Department's by-then-antique but still wondrous Buchla Synthesizer. The large ensemble of dancers began the piece by walking incognito among the lunch crowd, curiously crumbling slowly to the ground as the strange music began emanating from unseen speakers. It was fabulous how much this could catch the crowd's attention! Then the choreography quickly picked up momentum and moved aggressively between/among the innocent bystanders.
It was after these early works,
Escape From The Ozarks, University of Arkansas 1981
Heavy Traffic, High Winds, University of Arkansas 1982
Gate Gate, University of Arkansas 1983
Mysteries, University of Arkansas 1984
Healing Gestures, Simple Joys, UArk, and PAC in Fayetteville and in Eureka Springs 1984, 1985
Mother Daughter Sister Self, PAC 1985
The Earth and The Air, Appel Farm Arts Center New Jersey 1986
Threes, Appel Farm Arts Center New Jersey 1986
July, Appel Farm Arts Center New Jersey 1986
Wheels and Circles, Folding Unfolding, Appel Farm Arts Center New Jersey 1986
Trouble in Parachute, Appel Farm Arts Center New Jersey 1986
August, Appel Farm Arts Center New Jersey 1986
Christmas, Baltimore Actors Theatre Conservatory (not with my own music, with numerous tracks off the
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album) 1990
Small Planet, Short Day, Big Plans, Guest Artist year at Kenyon College 2005
I also did music, script, staging, choreography, etc. for two full-length original children's musicals - MAJOR productions - at St. James Academy in Monkton, Maryland, 1989 and 1990.