I met choreographer Alex Ketley in 2010 in Tallahassee at MANCC's five year anniversary celebration. We hit it off instantly and decided to find a way to work together. A few years later, Alex asked me if I would be interested in participating in an iteration of a project that he had been working on for a few years called No Hero, where he and his company members had spent time in parts of the country that are far away from art-filled urban centers, meeting strangers, interviewing them about their experiences with dance and, when it seemed appropriate, dancing for them. He wanted to try this again with me in the American deep south. It sounded terrifying to me, so I said yes.

We met up in Austin, Texas and from there drove eastward. We decided to stay off the major highways but beyond that, didn't map out a trajectory or an itinerary. Our three week drive took us through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. After a week of just the two of us, dance artists Sarah Woods and Michelle Boulé joined us and we continued for two more weeks as a quartet.

Our decisions about where to stop along the way were fairly arbitrary and intuitive. We'd go into a store, cafe, store, hotel, or sometimes just up to someone along the road and engage them in a conversation. First it was just about their lives and work and what it was like to live where they did. Then, if the conversation continued, we'd start asking them about what kind of relationship they had to dance and performance. And then we'd offer them a performance as a kind of "thank you" or gift for having had the conversation with us.

Throughout the three weeks we stopped in a variety of sites and tried out practices of movement and sound improvisation. These practices, held either during the day or night, were another kind of conversation, held exclusively between us, the environment and the occasional passerby, that paralleled the interactions we were having with strangers.

Alex Ketley went on to transform this project into a stage performance. For more information on that click here.

For more writing on the project, click here.

Background photo from a video still.