Dancing to a different beat

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By Kirsten Laskey

Ronn Stewart, artistic director of Moving People Dance of Santa Fe, is returning to familiar turf.

When his nonprofit dance company performs at 2 p.m. Sunday at Duane Smith Auditorium, Stewart will be able to see his old workplace. For three years, he was the co-artistic director of Dance Arts Los Alamos (DALA). Seven years ago, he started Moving People, and although he left the local area, Stewart said he was able to apply his experiences in Los Alamos to the Santa Fe company.

Plus, students from DALA, such as Andrew Silks, travel to Moving People to take classes.

“I learned so much at Dance Arts,” he said.

Stewart called the DALA board his “surrogate parents,” and said he learned a lot about operating a nonprofit business. “I’m really grateful for that,” Stewart said.

He moved to New Mexico on his 23rd birthday, with nothing in his pocket. Stewart recently learned that the ashes of dancer and choreographer Martha Graham were spread on Bureau of Land Management land behind his old home in Chimayo, where he lived when he was a newcomer to the state. As a result, Stewart said it felt like destiny brought him to northern New Mexico.

Perhaps it did. Moving People now teaches 35 students, and Stewart has performed shows at the Santa Fe Opera.

Additionally, it is the only home-based contemporary professional dance company in Santa Fe.

Now, Stewart wants to introduce his company to the rest of the state. Therefore, taking the dance company to Los Alamos seemed like a natural decision.

“It’s just a no-brainer, really,” Stewart said.

Los Alamos is encouraged to see what Stewart has created. The performance will feature five individual dances. Stewart describes it as a “mixed-repertoire dance concert.”

“I always think about the evening overall,” he said, “I really want to create a diverse evening.”

This is not recycled material.

“I honor the traditions ee knowing where the craft came from. But when it comes to making art, it has to be 2008,” Stewart said.

The dance company is “not a living museum,” Stewart said, “I want to study the craft so I can say something right now.”

He describes Moving People as being “pretty cutting-edge.”

By making dance contemporary, the goal to impact a modern audience. Hopefully, the audience will think, laugh and cry throughout the upcoming show, Stewart said. He stresses that in the company, its members are people first and dancers second.

“I’m really about building a community around a professional dance (company),” Stewart said.

“We are people first,” he added. “We’re going to do something with our bodies and it will move you.”

Within the hour-and-a-half concert, these dancers will show just what the human body can do, Stewart said.

He encourages people who diligently watch “Dancing with the Stars” or “So You Think You Can Dance” to experience dancing in real life and hear the dancers breathe and see them sweat.

“I really think you will get an adrenaline rush,” Stewart said. “You will see sweat fly across the stage ee it’s a different type of experience than TV, movies or theater. Come see us to get your juices going more.”

There is a lot of excitement behind this reunion between Los Alamos and Stewart. “We’re excited,” Stewart said. “There’s a little magic going on ee I’m proud of the company and I’m very excited to come to Los Alamos.”

Tickets at $20 for general admission, or $10 for students can be purchased at CB Fox, Los Alamos Arts Council, Duane Smith Auditorium or calling Moving People Dance of Santa Fe at 505-438-9180.