Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Marie Hoffman, Anthony Aceves, Alex Rasmussen of AkomiDance
Current Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Marie, Anthony, and Alex, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Before jumping in, can you tell us a little about yourselves and AkomiDance?
The directors of AkomiDance have been connected to one another since 2005, with dance as the centerpiece of our relationships. Since our official establishment in 2015, we have created many well-received works on our company of professional dancers and have introduced the Orange County Dance Festival, which premiered at the Rose in April, 2016. Our intention was to create an event that included various southern California based companies and choreographers for the purposes of delivering concert dance to our Orange County community.
What else should we know about AkomiDance?
Orange County Dance Festival is our signature accomplishment. Our relationship with The Rose has enabled us to produce an unparalleled annual event - complete with a pristine facility, state of the art technical capabilities and a top-notch crew of industry professionals. We take great pride in OCDF and have been thrilled with its continued growth and success over the past four years. Our newest addition to OCDF - Rising Artists - which was scheduled to premiere in 2020, would have contributed to the evolution of our festival, creating additional opportunities for emerging artists in our community.
Can you tell us about what you've all been working on recently?
In addition to developing and maintaining OCDF, our primary focus for the past several seasons has been the production of an evening length, site-specific showcase, centered around the various spoken-word pieces created by Anthony Aceves between 2016 and 2020. As we adapt to our current reality, we have redirected our focus to the continued development of our growing library of dances for film. We are hopeful that our community will reopen soon, and have begun planning for OCDF and Rising Artists 2021.
Starting a new dance company is no easy feat, what are some of the obstacles you've faced in getting AkomiDance to where it's at today?
As is the case with many regional artistic organizations, our primary hurdle is securing consistent funding for our projects. Now that we have been granted our 501C3 status, we are able to begin the process of acquiring grants and subsidies. We are devoted to delivering live concert dance to our community and toward this end, we are constantly striving to convince a broader audience that live dance is relevant and necessary. In our current fast paced, technology based culture, making our community aware of the benefits of engaging in live theatrical experiences has become a passion for us. We embrace the fact that this is not a one-step process, nor is it a one-person job. It is a continual, communal commitment, and one that we approach with hope and enthusiasm.
Are there any lessons that you've learned in your four years growing AkomiDance?
As artists, we are predisposed to creative, out of the box thinking. We have learned it is best to ask questions, that it is most efficient to be specific when asking for help, and that you cannot fully understand all possibilities if you are only willing to accept the limitations. People are more willing to give and help once made aware of how they can contribute. Go to live shows. Make connections whenever you can, and promote your fellow artists throughout your community!
Where do you find inspiration?
The people and the work itself, our AkomiDance family, the SoCal dance community at large, and other creatives we have worked with that stay in our lives. Serendipitous experiences are so defining and important. These people, and these works, are all a result of where we have been. All the different turns we have taken in life, brought us to this one place in time for the purpose of continuing dance - our ongoing collective passion.
What role do you think it or the arts play in today's society?
Art creates conversation. That conversation can be about anything - different aspects of life that can be joyful or traumatic; it can open dialogues about difficult social issues in a way that can be safe and non-threatening. Art transcends other forms of communication and is present in everything we consume in society: movies, tv, marketing, social media trends, the list is endless.
As we make our way through this global pandemic, what are your hopes for AkomiDance's future?
We look forward to our future with eager anticipation - we cannot wait to find out what is in store for our dance community. We believe that the importance and relevance of live theater - and specifically concert dance - is more evident now than ever before. We embrace the possibilities that we will encounter as our community reopens and our audiences are hungry for live interactions. We look forward to reuniting with our dancers, our crew, and our public at The Rose, and beyond.
What role do you think AkomiDance and the arts in general play in helping to unify society?
The arts are undeniably powerful and have the ability to unite individuals from all walks of life. Whether in illuminating elements of unfamiliar cultures, or opening avenues of dialogue between those of differing social opinions, the arts serve as a vehicle of communication. We, as artists, have a responsibility to our community to facilitate this communication and to make artistic experiences accessible to everyone. We all need to be a part of the conversation.
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