Beginner's Guide to Collision Theory: The Finale Apr 11, 2013

by Heidi

1. KT Niehoff is a longstanding force in the contemporary dance community in Seattle.  A life-long vocalist and NYU graduate with a degree in Theater, KT was taken by surprise when shortly after college she realized her true passion was dance.  After attending dance class furiously in New York to improve as quickly as possible, she ended up moving to Seattle along with Michelle Miller to be a part of the Pat Graney Dance Company.  Upon arrival, KT admits she had a, “What have I done?!” moment after leaving the robust dance community in New York.  However, KT is not one to mope; she instead set out to strengthen Seattle’s contemporary dance community. Along with Miller, KT founded Velocity Dance Center in 1996, four years after moving to Seattle.  KT was the director of Velocity for the next 10 years, until 2006, and started the nationally recognized programs, Strictly Seattle and SCUBA.  She currently runs 10 degrees, a beautiful dance studio in Capitol Hill which offers residencies and is also where KT’s company rehearses.  


2. As a choreographer and artist, KT is drawn to multidisciplinary and audience interactive performances.  Early in her career, she choreographed for traditional, proscenium spaces.  One of these pieces, Relatively Real, premiered at On the Boards in 2005.  However, making work for the stage was lonely and unsatisfying for KT, so she left the stage in 2006 and has rarely gone back since. In 2007, KT started Lingo Productions, a group devoted to pushing the boundaries between artist and audience.  One of their first works as a group in 2007, The Lift Project, pushed those boundaries quite literally as performers took the weight of passerby’s at the Pike Place market and pushed them up part of the hill climb, daily, for a month. Other performances by Lingo Productions have tested the boundaries between performer and spectator in pieces like Inhabit, a 2007 production where dancers transitioned between dancer and party-goer over the course of a 2 hour long party, or A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light, held in the basement of ACT, which featured a live band, theatrical dance performances and functioned like an underground night club. 

3. KT’s career has been remarkably fruitful and made a huge impact.  She’s a current MAP fund recipient, has been an Artist Trust Fellow, and a 2006 MANCC Fellow.  She was named Dance Artist of the Year by Seattle Magazine in 2007, was featured in Dance Magazine’s “International Women of Dance” issue in 2008, and was on the cover of Dance Teacher Magazine in 2012.  Her work has been shown around the country at prestigious venues such as ACT Theater (Seattle), On the Boards (Seattle), The Joyce SoHo (NY), SUSHI (San Diego) and The Southern Theater (Minneapolis), as well as internationally in Japan, Ecuador, Germany and Canada. 

4. Collision Theory began last year at the 2012 North West New Works Festival with an interactive dance and letter writing performance called, Paper Trail.  It was the first of the many performances, films, fashion shows, parties, and letter writing campaigns of Collision Theory held for audiences ranging in size from one to hundreds.  KT explains the point of Collision Theory, or the connecting line, is not in an aesthetic continuity or connective narrative, but is in the continuity of the audience.  Collision Theory: The Finale is not only the finale of this year long project, it also marks the finale of Lingo Productions. The piece, viewed in its entirety seems like an encapsulation and perfect capstone representing many of the ideas KT has played with over the course of her dance career surrounded by the community she helped to build. 

5. If you can't wait for The Finale, tide yourself over by checking out this trippy dance film by KT called Parts Don’t Work (2011). It was filmed at the now defunct Fun Forest amusement park under the Space Needle and has shown at the American Dance Festival, NEXT Dance Film Festival and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival.