MANDY KIRSCHNER SALVA
We conclude our Artist Close-Up series with dancer Mandy Kirschner Salva, formerly of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Stephen Petronio Company, and now, Second Story Dance Project. Filled with gratitude and delight, Mandy shares her perspectives on the growth of our Second Story endeavor. She also offers us a glimpse of the joys and frustrations of working with children present in the studio.
Reflecting upon the past year, Mandy finds it amazing that we’ve just concluded rehearsal number 37! She is so happy with the way in which Second Story has grown from an experimental idea into a full-fledged collective. Mandy believes that our recent works-in-progress showing proved to our patrons -- and to ourselves – that we can do it. Our creating while caregiving model really works! Inspired by our success thus far, Mandy is eager to have more performance opportunities. She would like to finish and premier a couple of pieces currently being developed to allow family, friends, and Westchester residents to see what’s happening in the dance world north of the city.
Mandy notes that dance is an art form in which its practitioners experience an unusually high level of intimacy and vulnerability. Consequently, members of any size dance company must open themselves up to one another, enabling them to develop close bonds and operate as a cohesive unit. Accordingly, Mandy feels that her Second Story colleagues are such a nice group; the dancers work well together and have created a very comfortable, accepting environment.
Rehearsing once a week for a relatively short 3-hour period can be frustrating since the dancers cannot move forward very quickly. However, given the demands of full-time parenting, Mandy acknowledges, “we’ll take what we can get.” Luckily, the time and day of the week works out well for everyone, minimizing absences.
Working with our kids in the studio is the only way we can continue to choreograph and dance. We are fortunate to have created an environment that allows us to develop our art and care for our children simultaneously. Yet, the presence of the children is a continual distraction; moving back and forth between creating and caregiving makes it impossible to focus on our work for long periods of time. Moreover, it is frustrating to interrupt an intense phase of creativity to attend to the kids’ needs. But, as Mandy reminds us, “that’s what we signed up for.”
On the other hand, Mandy feels that the presence of the children is quite special. She wants her kids to see what she does professionally…to know that she “had a cool life” before they were born! It is fun to share her artistic pursuits with her children. She loves that they “know who I am.” Moreover, it is clear that the kids really enjoy the time they spend in the studio.
Mandy is convinced that the creating while caregiving model is ultimately worth it. Moreover, the unique Second Story environment provides an even richer and more memorable experience than a traditional rehearsal set-up. Distilling our model to its very essence, Mandy explains, “We have figured out a way to do what we want to do while doing what we have to do!”
Sherri Muroff Kalt, founder of Process Portraits, LLC and author of Portrait of an Artistic Journey: The Creative Process in Real Life Context, is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in psychology. She began her career in marketing and sales in New York City with L’Oréal, Monet Jewelers, and Givenchy. READ MORE