Stills from Kathleen's 2005 choreography at Kenyon College, "Small Planet, Short Day, Big Plans" (more of Kathleen's choreography below)

Performing Arts Collective and Kathleen's own choreography, a narrative:

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.

Kathleen's choreography

Part of what uniquely informs my work as musician for dance is the fact that for seven years I taught modern dance and choreography, performed in my own choreography and in the works of others, and constantly created my own new choreography.

My choreographic endeavors were first seen at University of Arkansas Fayetteville, by invitation of Dance Department Chair Terry Brusstar.

choreo: Escape From The Ozarks

Earliest works included
Escape From The Ozarks,
notable for its large
"doorframe" prop
from which the three
dancers variously hung,
and for the peel-away costumes
which began as hayseed overalls
and ended up as
flames painted on white leotards.

I had brought from Goucher College
the concept of Contact Improv as well,
and this piece involved
numerous weight-bearing
two- and three-person

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.

choreo: Heavy Traffic, High Winds

choreo: Mysteries

Mysteries was a serious work
for the concert stage.
These three dancers
(Gail Leftwich, Susan Pehrson, and Pamela Jones)
brought a sophisticated beauty
to the line-oriented motif.
I myself, obscured under
monk's hooded cape,
played ominous bell-like sounds
from downstage left,
as the dance approached
and shrank back
from that darkened corner.

It was after these early works,
that I formed Performing Arts Collective

choreo: Mysteries

List of my original, publicly-produced choreography (all with my own freshly composed music):

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.