A new company on the city’s dance scene, Watershed Dance Theatre, will make its Atlanta debut Saturday with Watershed Moments at Emory University’s Performing Arts Studio.
“It’s scary and exciting at the same time,” Artistic Director Sarah Emery said. “I am charting unknown territory and making connections as I go along, which seems backwards in some ways. I know it would be easier to become more rooted in Atlanta before taking on an evening’s production, but I enjoy pushing myself to do things that are outside of my comfort zone.”
Emery, who recently relocated from Charlotte, brings years of experience as a dancer, director and choreographer. She served as a principal dancer with the interdisciplinary artists’ collective Moving Poets from 1998 to 2006 and was coartistic director from 2013 to 2015.
Watershed Moments will feature “With Eyes to the Earth” (2015) and “The Dinner Table” (2018).
“This is my third visit for ‘With Eyes to the Earth,’ which is fitting because the piece is about evolution,” Emery said. “It started out as a five-minute solo that I choreographed on myself for a collaborative event in Charlotte. I had seen a time-lapse video of a dandelion and found it intriguing to see its life cycle in one sitting. I used this as my inspiration.”
This time, Emery has changed all of the choreography and music except for the original solo. She’s also taken herself out of the piece and is working with local dancers Lara Davis and Bekah O’Toole. “This allowed me to see some of the challenges that existed with the costumes and music and work with them in a way that made more sense,” she said. “The music has changed from intense, Prokofiev strings to a more calming cello and a bit of vocals.”
“The Dinner Table” began as a 10-minute dance film that depicts a relationship unraveled by differences.
“I worked with the Atlanta film production company, Pictures In, and Atlanta dancer/actor Aaron Nedrick to bring my vision to life,” Emery said. “It was accepted into the Atlanta Dance Collective’s Femme Fest, and we hope to get more exposure in other film festivals as well. While working on the piece, I knew that I wanted to expand the short story into something larger, so I kept in the back of my mind how it could be worked into a full-length, live performance.”
That full-length, live performance debuted at Charlotte’s BOOM Festival in April. “Unlike ‘With Eyes to the Earth,’ I have not changed a thing with this piece, and we can’t wait to show it here in Atlanta,” Emery said.
Looking to coming seasons, Emery’s aim for Watershed Dance Theatre is to present one production a year and foster additional performing opportunities. “Long term, I would like to develop our own space where we can perform and hold classes for emerging professional dancers,” she said. “I am certain that other goals will present themselves as we continue our journey in creating watershed moments.”