The end of Ririe-Woodbury's season will find one of its longest-running performers departing. Alexandra Bradshaw takes part in her final performance with the company as the 2017 version of Spring Season
runs April 13-15. The show will have an amazing solo from Bradshaw, as well as the world premiere of "Elizabeth, the dance." Before her final curtain calls, we caught back up with Bradshaw to talk about this show, as well as her memories of working with the company and what's next for her. (All pictures provided courtesy of Ririe-Woodbury.
First thing, how have you been since we last chatted?
Hi, Gavin. Wow, it has been a while! Since the last time we chatted, I have been mostly great. I’ve toured all over the USA and to Zimbabwe. I’ve also collaborated on numerous outside projects with dance artists, filmmakers, rock bands, photographers—as well as my spouse, classical guitarist, Jon Yerby. I have adopted another rescue dog. Two years ago, I broke my foot during a performance and experienced the patient joy of a long recovery. I am all healed now! The human body is unstoppable. All in all, many adventures and dance moves have transpired.
The big thing we're chatting about is that it's your last performance with the company. What brought on the decision to leave?
This will be my last performance with the company as I am starting graduate school in June at the University of Washington in Seattle, working toward my MFA in Dance. It has basically been an impossible decision to walk away from this incredible dance job. I've spent the last 11 years working as a professional dancer—the last six years here with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. My time here has been the most grounding and transformative of my entire career. Something deep in my gut, however, tells me that it is the right time to move forward.
How has it been for you working with the crew during this final season?
I always enjoy working with these guys. I mean, have you seen them? They are magical. But I am absolutely having extra fun this time and falling in love with each of them over and over in my sentimental state.
What are your fondest memories of Ririe-Woodbury as you look back?
Oh, my. Well, as my husband Jon once famously proclaimed, “There were some tendus and some tendon’ts
.” Forgive the obscure dance humor. Some milestone performances for me include my first ever performance with the company when we rose out of the orchestra pit in Larry Keigwin’s “80s Night.” That also happened to be the last time my father ever saw me perform before he passed away. Another would be the company’s 50th anniversary
performance which included classic works like Joan and Shirley’s “Play It As It Rings” and Daniel Charon’s first ever premiere with the company. Also, my first show back after a long injury hiatus in which I performed one of my all-time favorite works, Doug Varone’s “States Rendered.” I was honored to dance at the Joyce Theater in New York City and the L’Onde Theatre in Paris, France. Over these past six years, I have worked with more than 30 choreographers, taught thousands of students and shared the stage with nine incredible dance colleagues. Off the top of my head, I can recall at least 17 duets performed with Bashaun Williams. Some exceptional tour shenanigans include being attacked by a baby tarantula in Wickenburg, Ariz.; witnessing Mary Lyn Graves escape the clutches of a black bear cub in Tahoe, Calif.; singing Celine Dion karaoke with Brad Beakes at Applebee’s in St. George, Utah; and driving through seven blizzards in our intrepid tour van named “Shiela.”
What were your first impressions of this year's Spring Season?
When I heard that Ann Carlson was coming back to make an evening-length work with us this year for our Spring Season
, I practically levitated.
How has it been putting together this particular show?
I feel extremely fortunate to spend this final creative process working with choreographer and performance artist Ann Carlson. I have been lucky to work with Ann on two projects over the years. The first time was in 2012 when she worked with us to re-stage her piece "50 Years" (which originally premiered with the company back in 1996) and now again to build "Elizabeth, the dance." I have always felt drawn to Ann’s ingenious wit and relish her distinct approach to dance making. This new evening-length work calls upon our personal life histories and shared dance histories in a way that has been poignantly reflective for me as I transition into a new phase of my dance life.
What's been your favorite piece from this show to work on?
Ann has given me a solo in this work where I attempt to recollect moments from many of the dances that I have performed during my tenure with Ririe-Woodbury. It has at once been an impossible and perfect task. I tell you, it's fascinating to feel how fully each dance still lives in my muscles and how easefully it rushes out of me alongside the memories of whom I was dancing it with. Talk about leaving it all out on the dance floor, Gavin!
We touched on it earlier, but what do you think about the world premiere of “Elizabeth, the dance”?
“Elizabeth, the dance” is at once layered, rambunctious and serene. It is unlike anything I have ever danced or seen. The intimacy of the Black Box offers every audience member a front row seat to the action. And believe me, there is a lot of action.
What are your thoughts going into opening night?
To enjoy every moment on stage with my beloved colleagues and at all cost, to avoid falling off of the wall. You’ll have to check out the show to see what I mean.
What are your plans going out and over the rest of 2017?
Well, I will be investing in a sturdy raincoat and backpack to help survive graduate school in Seattle. I will be teaching in the dance department at the University of Washington while also performing with the UW Chamber Dance Company and taking as many academic classes as possible all the while working toward my MFA. I fantasize about locking myself in the library and reading all of the books. I’m ready to go forth and get my nerd on.