Eight with a Katemate: Taylor Stender
Welcome to “Eight with a Katemate“, our new blog format where we interview team members with 8 questions and share their stories with YOU, our readers!
Today, we are excited to be featuring SKDC member, Taylor Stender! Taylor’s created some incredible art while being on our dance company – read on below to learn more about her!
1. How long have you been on Sister Kate Dance Company?
2. Why did you want to be a chorus girl?
- I wanted to be surrounded by kick ass ladies who did jazz in an unapologetically feminine way. When I started to learn swing dancing, and subsequently was introduced to vernacular jazz, most of the examples of Really Good Dancing that I was exposed to were from a more masculine angle. When I moved to Seattle I saw Sister Kate during the Jump Session show at Benaroya Hall (in 2010?) and was blown away. This was a style I felt fit me and my identity.
- I wanted to learn routines that I’d watched so many times over the years like “All I Do” from Singing In the Rain. To push the limits on the types of choreography that I could do (I come from a modern dance and color guard background). I love finding the challenges in each new routine and the sense of accomplishment of finally nailing it.
- Let’s be real though, I have a dramatic streak that likes performing, being on stage, and having a new excuse to cover things in glitter and rhinestones. I am both a ham and cheese.
3. What classic movies / dancers inspire you the most in your dancing?
Always and forever Ginger Rogers. She could go from high energy and punchy Charleston and tap to graceful and elegant
partnered dancing. I love the lines that she created and how her sense of performance could make you believe she was being spontaneous while still hitting all her marks.
Recently, I’ve really enjoyed watching all the big numbers from musicals of the 30-50s (oh man, the carousel number in Zeigfield Follies with Lucille Ball, or We’re in the Money featuring Ginger Rogers) and looking for the chorus girl who’s personality shines out even in a uniform line of dancers. I think that inner sparkle is what inspires me the most.
4. You’ve created some great group choreographies over the last few years on Sister Kate. Do you get inspired by a concept first, or a song?
5. How do you come up with the stories you tell in your choreographies? Where do the ideas stem from?
My first choreography for Sister Kate, the Summer Routine to “Blue Horizon” by Sidney Bechet, was dreamt up based on how the song felt to me. It sounded like sitting on my porch in Texas trying to get the humid air to move around me to cool off. The feeling of once you starting fanning yourself you can’t stop, and you’ll do almost anything to stay cool. Then inevitably my brain started to up the ante with a whole lot of “what ifs”. That routine was originally conceptualized as a burlesque routine with a flash dance style water dump at the highest and longest clarinet note during the crescendo of the song. But that’s a little ambitious to achieve as a chorus girl act… Who knows, maybe it will still get life as a burlesque routine later…
6. What’s the most challenging part of choreographing for a group on stage?
7. And you’re part of a secondary troupe that focuses on Burlesque, correct? Tell us about that.
Being a part of The Trinkettes has also pushed me in a new ways. I’ve found more comfort with my body and my voice in this endeavor than I have within other artistic ventures. I remember the first group choreography I created for the Trinkettes: it was wayyy more solo jazz based (more similar to SK style choreo). In contrast: the last group number I worked on had us all stripping out of dresses and into pasties and panties, and I mimicked some self pleasure while introducing an act on stage at our last show. It’s delightfully liberating to explore this other side to me in the inclusive and supportive community of burlesque. The SeaBQ community holds a lot of the same qualities that attracted me to join Sister Kate!