Kelsey Greenway ’16 found the inspiration for her Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre’s (VRDT) Final Showings performance through patty-cake. They played while wearing oven mitts, so Greenway told her dancers to toss the mitts between themselves, creating what she calls a “beautiful undulation of bodies traveling down the stage.”
Greenway said that when putting together “Haha yea,” she wanted to experiment with the male form’s capabilities. “I wanted to investigate the discomfort of reality and question movement clichés using antithetical aesthetics and subtleties of physicality,” she wrote in an emailed statement.
In the end, Greenway deemed the mitts used in the beginning stages of “Haha yea” as so essential to the piece’s creation she hung them up on stage in homage.
When Greenway is not choreographing for VRDT, she is also involved with and choreographing shows for FlyPeople and Future Waitstaff of America. She acted in “Legally Blonde the Musical” and in “The Vagina Monologues” at Vassar.
She wrote in an emailed statement, “Being a part of [the Monologues] was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The women in that show are some of the most beautiful and well spoken individuals I have ever met. It is still hard for me to put words to it, but I have never shared such a safe and accepting space like that one.”
This year, Greenway co-choreographed “Drowsy Chaperone” and worked on Senior Projects for Charlie Biers ’14 in the Political Science department and Mike Graceffa ’14 in the Drama department.
When incorporating dance into his Political Science thesis, Biers sought to include different aspects of knowledge and humanity that are usually undervalued by society. He chose to work with Greenway based on her previous work as a dancer and choreographer.
“She did a piece on women in political spaces which spoke to issues of validity and respect within male dominated spaces and finally an improv piece at the end where I asked dancers to dance simply for their own enjoyment thinking about what it meant for them to be human and compassionate,” Biers wrote in an emailed statement.
He continued, “Kelsey has the ability to not only give you dedication when she works with you but also help you grow as a result. Being in dance groups with her as well as having her in my senior project as helped me to heal and mature which is an incredible gift to have. Creative energy just seeps from her whether it is acting, dancing, singing, or just creating in any given space.”
Graceffa asked Greenway for assistance developing and choreographing his senior project. “I have a vision and I knew she was the one to help me make this vision a reality. As a creator, she has such a genuine, virginal eye. Old things can become new again and things can be conceived I never thought possible,” he wrote in an emailed statement.
He asked her because of her willingness to take creative risks. “She is not afraid to take chances and is definitely one of those people who find beauty in the oddest places. She is also so awesome to work with and just be around. We occasionally spend time in the studio just improving together and rolling around on the floor like crazies. She really brings out this uninhibited quality in myself not just as a dancer but as a person. I love her and value her for that.“
Greenway is currently co-directing the show “RENT” and will dance in the musical “2023” on campus.
Last year she took a dance class titled “Exploring Movement,” which tackled questions regarding identity, gender expression and the mind.
“Some days [in the class] we would be exploring the difference between stereotypical female and male gestures, and other days we would stare at our faces in the mirror for seemingly endless periods of time until we cried.”
“The mind has this dangerous habit of messing around with stuff it cannot or will not comprehend. It’s convoluted, as if it’s always trying to prevent itself from knowing itself,” wrote Greenway.
But she finds that when she is dancing, she is at ease in that perpetual state of uncertainty. Dancing allows her to examine and discard life’s complexities, ultimately giving her peace of mind.
Greenway also discussed how thankful she is to go to a college that is supportive of the arts and filled with talented artists.
“There is really every opportunity for students to get involved and everyone is so supportive of each other’s art forms, which I love.”
She would like, however, to see more collaboration among organizations and with artistic communities outside of the Vassar bubble, such as in New York City which is renown for its concentration of art. She would also like to see a dance major or minor established within the college.
Greenway is a cognitive science major, choosing to narrow her focus to its applications to dance and the embodied arts. She hopes to study abroad with the Dance Jerusalem program, which is jointly sponsored by Rothberg International School and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, next year.
Beyond Vassar, Greenway wants to audition for dance companies. “I hope to further explore the concepts of embodiment theory, spatial relations and proprioception as applied to dance,” she wrote.
“The dance world is rapidly changing and I would love to be a part of promoting and advancing the change. And basically I just want to keep creating, choreographing, collaborating and traveling.”